'I usually donate 50ml per day' - The reason mum donates breast milk

Sarah has been donating her breast milk for the past few months. 

Sarah has been donating her breast milk for the past few months. - Credit: Rachel Morris

A mother-of-two who donates her breast milk for it to be transported to help premature babies was inspired by her grandmother. 

Sarah Bennett, from Kesgrave, has been a milk donor since February.

"I can do between 50ml and 150ml per day. I've got a whole draw in my freezer dedicated to milk now!" said Sarah.

One of the challenges facing Sarah is that her nearest hospital, in Ipswich, does not have a milk bank - with the closest being Addenbrookes, more than 60 miles away.

Addenbrookes Hospital provides Sarah with 50ml bottles, in which she freezes her milk.

When Sarah has expressed a full litre, a ‘blood runner’ volunteer is dispatched to deliver to where the milk is needed. 

As part of World Day of Human Milk Donation on May 19, she opened up about the importance of breast milk donation and the need for it in the region.

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"It is such a practical way of helping others when you're a mum who can’t always commit to being somewhere at a particular time," said Sarah, 41, who lives with her husband Mark, 45, and, daughter Abigail, four, and son Peter, who is just about to turn one.

Sarah was inspired to do what she could to help other mothers and babies after hearing a story told to her by her grandmother, Brenda Dean.

Brenda was living in Brazil when she gave birth to Sarah’s mother.

While she was in hospital, a nurse asked her if she would be prepared to feed another baby as well as her own, as the child’s mother could not do so herself. 

"My Gran lived quite a life, and that was one of the stories she liked to tell me. She passed away a few years ago, but she was such an inspiring, amazing lady," said Sarah.

"She was so kind, and that was one of the things I loved about her. When she told me that story, I thought it was such a beautiful thing to have done for another mum and baby."

Several decades later, Brenda's granddaughter was inspired to do the same, after she had spare milk after Peter was born.

Breast milk is highly beneficial to babies who are born prematurely, as the milk provides them with antibodies to fight infections, to which they are more susceptible. 

Sarah has linked up with the UK Association of Milk Banks (UKAMB) and is passionate about raising awareness of the need to donate. 

She is also a member of the Rotary SWD organisation, which has been hugely supportive of Sarah, and doing all it can to help raise awareness.

One thing the donor has learned is that when she expresses milk, she must also avoid many types of medication, such as ibuprofen, and herbal teas such as chamomile.  

This is because premature babies have less developed organs, and so hospitals cannot risk anything entering their bodies which they might find hard to digest. 

However, Sarah is simply is pleased to have been able to help many premature babies in need of milk. 

"It's such a privilege to be able to donate your milk, because there is such a small number of people in the country who are able to do it, and it's for such a short amount of time.

"Babies reduce their milk intake as time goes on, so I will stop when I'm not able to produce 50ml a day, which will probably be in a few months."