Published on August 10, 2016

Donor Breast Milk

This blog is dedicated to the staff of Mary Greeley Medical Center’s Birthways and NICU departments. I wish I could list you each by name and specifically mention why you are so wonderful. Thank you for the exceptional care you gave my entire family, Tatum, Tacie, Tessa, Taylor, Ryan and myself during both of our stays in your unit. You will forever be a part of two of my favorite stories.

Let's roll! Heading home from the hospital.

Let's roll! Heading home from the hospital.

When Tessa was a baby, she took to nursing like a champ. She just knew what to do. I learned more about the benefits of breastfeeding and felt we were doing what was best for our baby. It is an obvious money saver. It contains antibodies that fight off viruses. Babies that are breast fed have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and all around healthier. It can lower the risk of cancer for both mom and baby. And so on and so on… I was so proud of our success with nursing, that I couldn’t imagine not giving it a try.

The plan was to also nurse the twins. The thought of it sounded exhausting, but I assumed it would be as easy as the time before. I knew I was lucky with Tessa, but never had a plan B for the Twins.

When Tatum and Tacie were born, I tried nursing. Born at what we thought was 37 weeks, the nurses said the girls’ seemed “young”. They tried to nurse, but couldn’t latch and didn’t have an interest in eating. These kids just wanted to sleep. But I kept trying.

Once our visitors left our hospital room the night the twins were born, I thought it was going to be time for some rest. It felt like one very long, exciting, yet exhausting day. It was about 11pm when the girls’ body temperatures and blood sugar levels started to drop low enough that they became “NICU Babies”. My nurse worked with the NICU nurse to try and raise their temp and blood sugar.

Tacie’s numbers were the lowest. She needed to eat, yet I was really hoping to avoid formula. The NICU nurse brought me a pamphlet and introduced me to the University of Iowa’s Donor Milk Bank program. This was new to me and as a mom, I was skeptical and had to comprehend what this meant. “Milk from another mom?” “Who is this lady?” “What if she did drugs?” I read the pamphlet over and over to help clear my thoughts and answer my questions. Finally I gained some clarity. The University of Iowa wouldn’t have a program that was not safe for babies. Mary Greeley Medical Center wouldn’t utilize a program that would put their patients at harm. My “what ifs” were justified, but I knew the answers all along. Donors are screened to make sure they meet specific qualifications to be eligible to donate. Milk is pasteurized, tested for bacteria, then frozen. With that, I signed a release to give both of the girls’ donor milk.

The girls took to the donor milk, and it helped to begin to raise their body temperature, blood sugar and weight. It didn’t happen instantly, but I was very thankful that Mary Greeley offered the program. By 4am I was finally getting up for the first time after my C-section. By 4:30am, my nurse, Mandy brought me some Italian Ice (similar to sherbet), my first ‘meal’ in about 29 hours. By 5am, I was finally getting that rest I was hoping for that night. It didn’t take long to be reoriented to sleep with babies!

We tried bottle feeding, but due to their latching issues, they were fed using a syringe and a very small tube. One of our nurse’s showed Ryan and myself how to feed the girls’. We would put our knuckle in their mouth to get them to start sucking, and then insert the tube, and slowly push in the plunger. I have forgotten her name, unfortunately, but that nurse probably has no idea how excited we were to finally get to be part of feeding our babies.

Tacie’s blood sugar number didn’t rise like Tatum’s, and she had to have an IV inserted into her little arm. But the IV helped, and both babies were released from the NICU care the night before I was being discharged.

Having twins born early increases the chance they won’t be discharged the same day as mom. We knew this was a possibility, especially with the feeding issues. The goal of course was to all go home together. But the big picture is their health and if they’re ready. Monday, April 11th was my discharge day. The girls’ progressed to eating from a bottle with a preemie nipple. After being rounded on by the nurses and Pediatrician, it was confirmed that all three of us were going home that day! Halleluiah! We were ready to go home. Julie, my discharge nurse, like all the nurses we had during our stay, was amazing. She sent us off with a smile, hugs, and most likely a prayer!

To learn more about the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa and how you can receive or donate milk, visit or call 1-877-891-5347.

About the Author

Mindy WendtMindy Wendt is a mom with twins on the way! She also works in the Human Resources Department at Mary Greeley Medical Center. She and her husband Ryan currently have two daughters, Taylor (14) and Tessa (3).



Birthways at Mary Greeley Medical Center is where expectant mothers from throughout central Iowa come to deliver their babies. See why more moms choose Birthways.

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