Experiences of Women Who Donated Human Milk

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Abstract

Objective

To examine the experiences of women who donated breast milk to a hospital-based milk bank regulated under the policies and procedures set forth by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).

Design

Qualitative, phenomenological design.

Setting

The Mothers’ Milk Bank in a children’s hospital in the Northeastern region of the United States.

Participants

Twelve HMBANA-approved milk donors older than 21 years with infants hospitalized in the NICU.

Methods

Edmund Husserl’s design of interpretive phenomenology and Colaizzi’s method of data analysis were used for this study. Participants were interviewed using a face-to-face, semistructured interview format.

Results

Four themes represented the experience of donating breast milk: Ripple of Hope and Help, Dynamic Interplay of Nurturance, Standing on the Shoulders of Others, and Sharing Their Stories. Donors felt proud and accomplished to provide hope for other infants and families. Nurses were crucial in facilitating and motivating donors and making donation achievable in a supportive environment. Donors felt compelled to share their experiences to teach and motivate others to donate.

Conclusion

For our participants, donation of human milk was a positive, valuable, and nurturing experience. Donors reported feelings of increased self-esteem during donation that motivated them to “give back” and continue. The support of a well-trained nursing staff is essential for donors to meet their personal goals.

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