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Woman Follows In Her Mom's Footsteps By Donating Over 5 Gallons Of Excess Breast Milk To Strangers

Woman Follows In Her Mom's Footsteps By Donating Over 5 Gallons Of Excess Breast Milk To Strangers
Emma with her mom, Bonnie, and daughter, Emma (Elizabeth Golden/PA Real Life)

When a baby girl ruined her mom's plan to give her milk expressed in advance by refusing to feed from anything but her breast, rather than wasting the bottles she had already prepared, she donated them to strangers – just like her mother before her.

Now stay-at-home mom Gina Mitchell, 36, has donated over 20 liters (over 5 gallons) of breast milk since having her eldest daughter, Emma, three, on June 23, 2016, after hearing her own mom, Bonnie Sinatro, 73, talk about donating excess milk as she was growing up.

Gina, of Woodbridge, Virginia, who now has a newborn daughter, Sage, with her law enforcement officer husband Daniel, 34, said: “My mother was very proud of the fact she had donated breast milk when we were younger – as she should be."

“Every Christmas we would get cards from the families she'd donated to and I remember thinking it was very cool," she added.

“But it wasn't until I became a mom that I realized how important breast milk is and, although I never intended to donate myself, I'm very proud that I do."

Frustrated, after six months of trying to get baby Emma to bottle feed, Gina finally “gave up," accepting she would have to breastfeed her daughter for the foreseeable future.

Gina pregnant (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I'd always wanted to breastfeed, but I thought it would be a good idea to have an extra supply for if I was out, so that Daniel could feed her while I wasn't there," Gina explained.

“We tried on and off for six months, but in the end it became clear she wasn't going to take."

Finding herself with a deep freezer full of breast milk she had pumped in anticipation during the six months, Gina decided to post about it on local pages for new mothers on Facebook.

Gina with her husband, Daniel, and Emma (Elizabeth Golden/PA Real Life)

“I posted on a bunch of different groups and it didn't take long for me to find someone who needed the extra milk," she recalled.

“A woman got in touch, who had adopted a premature baby and she was desperate for whatever she could find.

“At the time, I had roughly 10 liters (~2.6 gallons) in the freezer, and within a couple of days I was dropping it off at the woman's friend's house about 20 minutes away."

“She lived in Maryland and her friend was visiting and took the donated breast milk with her," she continued.

“It felt awesome. I know how important it is for preemies to get breast milk and I felt really good about myself."

But when Gina became a mom for the second time on September 21 this year, when Sage was born, she started donating breast milk regularly, after a friend from a local mom's meet-up group asked for donations.

Gina pumping breast milk while feeding Sage (Emily Dennis Photography/PA Real Life)

“The woman I'm donating to now isn't able to produce enough breast milk to sustain her little one," she explained.

“Getting donated milk has been a real struggle throughout her children's infancy, so I've told her I'm more than happy to keep a running supply open for her for whenever she needs it."

Gina manages to express enough milk to donate some by, whenever she breastfeeds Sage, attaching a pump to her other breast, which then collects the white stuff.

Gina's pumped breast milk ready to be donated (PA Real Life/Collect)

“Now I have two young children I don't have time to sit down and allocate a set time of day to solely pump," she said.

“The manual pump is much more convenient and I've collected a lot in just a few weeks.

“Emma calls it my 'boob cup,' which is a pretty accurate description."

“I can even use it when my breasts become engorged and Sage isn't hungry – it's a real relief," she added.

Guessing that she has donated an extra 10 liters in just a few weeks, Gina believes her “incredible mom" is to thank for encouraging the act of altruism.

“My mom really was ahead of her time when it came to breast milk donations – especially the way she would so openly talk about it," she said.

Emma, Gina, Daniel and Sage (Emily Dennis Photography/PA Real Life))

“Sometimes it can seem like we've gone backwards. I've had a few encounters where people have tutted or stared when I've breastfed in public," she continued.

“I can't imagine how they'd react knowing I donated it too.

“Luckily, I was brought up in such an open family I don't let those things bother me."

Gina's pumped breast milk ready to be donated (PA Real Life/Collect)

“I already tell Emma that 'Mommy is donating milk for another baby,' and I'll proudly tell Sage when she's old enough to understand too.

“After all, we feed our children dairy all the time and when you think about it, cow's milk is made for baby cows. Why not give our children milk that was actually made for them?"

Now Gina is hoping to encourage other new moms to donate breast milk, too.

Gina's pumped breast milk ready to be donated (PA Real Life/Collect)

“People need to open their eyes to donor milk…it really is an incredible thing," she said.

“I've spoken to a few new moms who have a bunch of expressed breast milk in their freezers for whatever reason. Why not donate it?

“Join a local group or bring it up if you're already in one – you'll be surprised by the feedback."