A woman who appealed for mums to give her some breast milk for her baby daughter has thanked those who came forward to help.
Single mum-of-two Joanne Plane, from Great Harwood, made the plea on a Facebook page that connects breastfeeding mums, and was inundated with offers of help from mums.
Joanne, 23, had her premature daughter Evelyn five months ago, six weeks before her due date.
She was adamant she wanted to breastfeed because she was disappointed she gave up so early with her son Jensen, now four.
But various problems, including Evelyn being tube-fed on the neonatal intensive care unit and later struggling to latch on, as well as dealing with her son breaking his arm, she struggled to meet the demand - and with little time to express her freezer stash was dwindling.
Joanne said: “I know every mum goes through this, but I am on my own and it was so difficult and something had to give so I started sleeping a little more when she did, but that meant I missed a pumping session or two.
“The freezer stash of breast milk I’d built up started going down, before I knew it I was all out of breast milk with a low supply and a very hungry baby girl.
“When I supplement her feeds with formula she gets so constipated and has been in a lot of discomfort with it, I’ve given it time but she still gets discomfort from it and I realised that the formula is just no good.”
Joanne went to the doctor and was given some medication to help her lactate, but as that was only recommended for short term use, she asked about milk banks but was unable to get a referral.
She said: “I don’t know if it was because it was a male doctor and he didn’t understand that even though, yes formula will give her just the amount of what she needs, it didn’t have the vital antibodies my premature baby needs and wasn’t sure the funding would be best placed with us.
“I came across the US Facebook page of Human Milk 4 Human Babies before the admin of that site pointed me in the direction of the UK site.
“I never thought I’d have to use donor milk and wasn’t keen on the idea, until I realised once my baby was here that it was the best thing for her and I couldn’t keep up with her demands.
“The site has been amazing, lots of women have come forward to help me and I’m so grateful I wasn’t sure how people would react.
“Some members of my family saw my post and were shocked and questioned it, but the women on the site just understood. Until you’re in that situation, you just don’t know and understand the overwhelming need to make sure your baby has the best possible nutrition to thrive.”
Mum-of-one Victoria Joyce-Clarke, 36, from Whalley Range, Manchester was one of the mums who came forward to help.
Speaking to the Observer, she said: “I have been fortunate enough to be able to breastfeed my daughter without complications for over eight months now.
“I feel the need to help those who have been unable to breastfeed, for whatever reason, as a natural connection to helping other women and to help nourish their own babies as a need as much as my own.
“We are aware of the health benefits of breast milk; the form of baby feeding for centuries, and to donate milk to help other babies whom need it most is something I think many women will enjoy being a part of.”
Lynsey Bartam, one of the administrators for Human Milk 4 Human Babies - UK, said the page was launched in 2010 and is one of 52 in countries across the world, including one in every state on Australia, Canada and the USA.
She said: “I knew that there were many families here in the UK that could not access donor milk - our milkbanks only provide for sick babies in special care baby units - and also plenty of women with milk to share who, for one reason or another, were unable to donate to milkbanks.
“HM4HBUK bridges that gap. We aim to facilitate a space for families who have made the informed choice to share milk. The fact that we have more than 10,000 community members here in the UK is testament to that need.”