Things To Consider

Can my milk be used to help another baby?

Some mothers wonder if the breastmilk they express can be used to help another baby. There are human milk banks. If you would like to know more about this, ask your doctor or the hospital staff if there is one in your state which might accept your milk. Milk donors need to be screened by having blood tests before they can donate their milk.

A frozen memento?

Many parents like to keep mementos of their baby. You might like to freeze a small container of your breastmilk to remind you of the special bond you had with your little one. As no one will be using it, you can keep it as long as you like — only you need know it is there. You can discard it when you are ready. One mother kept a little jar of her breastmilk in her deep freezer for a number of years and found it a comfort when she came across it from time to time. She did not have any more babies and it remained her silent memorial to motherhood.

Funeral day

How you approach your baby’s funeral is a personal matter for you and your family. In some states you may choose not to have a funeral if your baby died before 20 weeks gestation. When planning a funeral, your family priest, minister or a social worker can help arrange the details with the funeral director. Ask if there is a private room where you could express your milk or change nursing pads. In most cases, the funeral will be held within a few days of the baby’s death. If your baby was stillborn or died very shortly after birth, your milk may come in on the actual day of the funeral. This may make the day even harder for you. You may need to deal with full breasts and leaking milk. It will be an emotional time and you may have many let-downs. Some families have a special viewing and farewell cuddle of their baby before the funeral service. If the service is followed by refreshments, it will be a long, physically-tiring and emotionally-draining day for you.

Some tips that may help:

• Be prepared for leaking milk.

• A soft cloth wrapped around your chest may be more comfortable than a bra if your breasts are very swollen. The hospital staff, your community nurse or a lactation consultant may be able to help you with this.

• A consoling hug from a friend, a thought or a memory can bring a flood of milk. On this day especially, choose breast pads that absorb liquid well, so that leaking milk is less likely to show on your clothing. With some types of pads, you may need several layers if you can fit them inside your bra. A new type of breast pad is designed to prevent leakage rather than soak it up. It consists of a non-absorbent material that sticks to the breast. These are sold through Mothers Direct.

• If possible, wear a dark-coloured, patterned top. Wet patches are likely to show less on matt than on shiny fabrics. A jacket, wrap or other loose, outer layer of clothing may help hide wet spots.

Express milk with a weaning breast pump for comfort before you go and when you have some private time during the day. Remember to express only enough for comfort. The more milk you express, the more you will make.
Some women would rather express a little more on the funeral day, to avoid a leakage problem and deal with any extra milk later, in private. Others prefer not to touch their breasts any more than they have to.

• If you feel your milk leaking or letting down, cross one or both arms firmly across your breasts to stop the flow.

• Take a spare set of clothes, especially if you will be out for a while.