Nevada mom donates thousands of ounces of breast milk

“I think I gave her my whole garage freezer full, twice.”
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 5:27 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Jennifer Mariani is breast milk donor from Gardnerville and she has been for years. But now that there’s a shortage of baby formula, more families are scrambling to get their hands on it.

“I think I gave her my whole garage freezer full twice and that was easily over 2,000 ounces,” Mariani said.

Mariani posted about her stash of milk on Facebook. She says it’s a way to pay it forward after her grandmother struggled to feed twins all those years ago.

“My grandma, she had twins at the same time, so her neighbors helped her breast feed,” Mariani said.

“So it’s something that used to be normal for women to help out other women in this way.”

Mariani’s mainly worked with a family in Reno, meeting up whenever the milk supply is running low.

“I like the idea of donating to someone local. It feels good to be able to meet the mom and meet the baby and just know that you’re doing good,” Mariani said.

But she isn’t the only mom trying to help out. St. Mary’s Medical Center also uses donated breast milk. Any baby that’s in the NICU has the opportunity to use breast milk from one of their milk bank partners.

“If you happen to have a surplus of breast milk, now is the time to help those babies in need,” Amanda Makoutz, a lactation consultant at St. Mary’s said.

The hospital partners with Prolacta. They screen donors and even provide them with freezer bags and a cooler once they’re approved.

“Especially in a situation where formula isn’t readily available or just in a disaster preparedness situation in general, breast milk is always going to be readily available,” Makoutz said.

St. Mary’s also provides lactation counseling before and after birth. Makoutz says the benefits of breast milk, whether you own or someone else’s, are immeasurable.

Mariani plans to keep donating through social media, where she’s met more than four families who’ve used her milk.

“I’ve got another mom that I’m bringing her out some tomorrow after work in Carson [City] because she’s in Reno. I’m going to meet her halfway,” Mariani said.

She hopes that by telling her story, more women will have the confidence to donate and share breast milk.

To learn more about donating through Prolacta at St. Mary’s click here.

For breast feeding support click here.

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