Lina Seda, PA has donated more than 5000 ounces of breast milk to babies in need including an infant dependent upon NG tube-feeding, the baby of an HIV+ mother, and one baby struggling with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES), a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal tract. This is an incredible voluntary act to help babies and support their mothers.
FEEL LIKE A NATURAL WOMAN?
When Seda and her husband welcomed the birth of their son last year, she admittedly underestimated the difficulty of breastfeeding and faced initial challenges with milk production.
“We all have an image of it being so easy and natural” she says, “but I wasn’t making anything, not even when I pumped. I went in for a check-up and my baby was losing weight, so I had to supplement with formula. I didn’t want to be too hard on myself, but I wanted to keep trying.”
Like many other women, Seda wondered why it’s so hard to breastfeed. Even though she longed to nurse her baby, she recognized that fixating on the situation would add unnecessary strain to her life.
Seda sought practical advice from a lactation consultant. Soon, her milk supply increased, but she then struggled to get her son latched on efficiently. As the difficulty continued, she suffered repeated engorgement and mastitis, pumping through the pain to feed her son who responded well to fresh breast milk from a bottle.
“I started making so much that I thought I would store it for once I went back to work. Well, my beautiful little boy doesn’t like old milk.”
She learned that her milk contained a high fat content and that the excess lipase can alter the flavor profile for some infants, like hers, while others detect no difference.
PUMPING WITH PURPOSE: Managing Breast Milk Oversupply
In an effort to connect with mothers experiencing similar issues, Seda discovered a Facebook group called “Human Milk for Human Babies” and joined in their conversations. That’s when a worried mom reached out to her, sharing serious concerns about nourishing an infant diagnosed with Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES).
“Her baby wasn’t gaining any weight, couldn’t tolerate anything but breast milk, and she wasn’t making enough,” she explains. Soon, others contacted her with milk needs, and as Seda continued to overproduce, she considered options to assist these parents. Seda realized the importance of changing the narrative around “breastfeeding failure” to include finding breastfeeding opportunities. She developed a passion about helping new parents feed their children and keep them healthy, no matter if they breastfed or bottle-fed.
Seda decided to register with a milk bank so that she could donate her excess breast milk to the babies who need it.
“I joined Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin; they do all the testing – bloodwork, check with your OB and pediatrician, test for everything possible,” she reports. “They’re even affiliated with [Wellstar] Cobb and Douglas, so I can donate there!”
Once she researched details and identified necessary resources, Seda committed to a system of pumping, storing, and arranging for milk delivery. She celebrated the realization that her oversupply could meet someone else’s desperate demand.
“I have two deep freezers in my garage. I pump and freeze it all right away. If the milk stays in a deep freezer, it can be good up to one year,” she details. “I don’t do small batches; I’d rather do larger amounts. I write little messages on my bags, too. It keeps us all connected.”
Seda plans to keep this all going through her baby’s first year and then re-evaluate. She urges curious mothers to look into these programs for themselves.
“It feels amazing because not only am I feeding my baby, but I’m also feeding NICU babies, and I’m feeding babies who can’t take anything else … It feels so good to be able to help so many babies,” she extols.
BABY, YOU’RE OKAY: Breastfeeding or Bottle feeding both work
“You think that you’re supposed to be Supermom and supposed to know it all. It’s okay to reach out and ask for help. I feel like if we were more open, it would be easier for so many women,” Seda counsels. “The only advice I have about breastfeeding is that whatever you decide to do, don’t be stressed out about it. If it doesn’t happen, it’s okay. How many millions of babies have been okay with formula?”
Seda appreciates the support she receives from colleagues and co-workers as she takes on this mission. “I’m very thankful that everyone I work with is open to this and they have no problem when I need to take a break to pump,” she effuses. “I’ve never felt any type of attitude about this. I went back to work when the baby was 3 months old… and I never felt like it [pumping] was a burden. If I got pregnant and had another baby, I would absolutely do this again! Why not?”
Women supporting women, and mothers supporting mothers—very much the necessary extra effort that binds communities together.
For more information about breast milk donation and breastfeeding resources, visit these links: