A grieving Maine mother whose son was stillborn at 20 weeks continued to lactate and she decided to use her loss to help others. Going against the advice of her doctor on how to stop her body producing breast milk she instead began to pump the breast milk and donate it. Her selfless act produced over 92 gallons of breast milk.
Amy Anderson’s son Bryson developed complications in utero and at 15 weeks was diagnosed with a lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO), which her baby did not survive. Amy and her husband, Bryan have two other children, Brody, 8, and Owen, 2 but have lost other children in addition to Bryson. One month after learning of the dire diagnosis the baby lost the fight for his life and was delivered stillborn. The delivery came at 20 weeks back in 2010 and Anderson’s body responded as if she had had a live birth and she began lactating.
The young mother was given advice from her doctor to bind her breasts and also take sudafed to help her breasts to stop the natural lactating process but she decided not to. The birth of her stillborn son was on October 8 and by November 3 she had made the decision to pump her breast milk in honor of her lost son. In the past eight years, the family has lost three other babies, all of whom they refer to as “angel baby.” Amy Anderson says that she had a greater connection with Bryson because she got to hear his heartbeat and was also able to hold him and this inspired her to make an impact on the world in her stillborn son’s honor.
After learning online of just how important breast milk is, especially in providing the necessary nutrients to premature babies, she made it her duty to help other mothers and ended up doing so with an accumulated 90 gallons of breast milk. Daily Mail wrote of Anderson’s initial confusion with how to handle the changes in her body.
“No one prepared me for what would happen to my breasts after Bryson was born. In fact, I was told that it was way too early for breast milk to be produced by my body. But this was a horrible misconception. Within a couple days after delivering Bryson, my milk came in. My… chest was throbbing, and milk saturated everything. No one suggested the option of donating Bryson’s milk… But I was in horrid pain, so I decided to pump ‘just a little’ to relieve my body.”
However, at work she was denied the time to pump and callously told by her employer that her baby was dead and the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law didn’t include bereaved or surrogate mothers. Amy ended up quitting that job and now is trying to fight to change the way the law is worded so as to include all lactating women. She has allegedly just heard back from a state legislator who has offered to help.
“All life has meaning, and my son’s life was no different. I decided to embrace his life’s purpose…I decided to donate Bryson’s milk and turn my tragedy into a blessing.”
According to Today she learned that the second leading cause of death in premature babies is necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which is a painful bowel disease that causes parts of the intestine to die and that breast milk lowers the risk by 79 percent. There have been numerous breast milk banks opening across the U.S. recently and the growing exposure has only helped babies in need.
After eight months of pumping she donated 92 gallons of breast milk. The donations went to five milk banks in four different states and also to Canada, more than 30,000 feedings was the result. Anderson’s milk was actually kept separate from others and given only to babies with the highest needs.
Amy Anderson currently volunteers for Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast and is working towards completing a certification to become a breastfeeding consultant. She also operates a Facebook page that aims to “education and advocacy to Mothers faced with lactation following the devastation of babyloss.”
[Image via Shutterstock]