In the midst of a formula shortage, a Bay Area mom is spending $92 a month to donate her breast milk.
She receives no medical reimbursement for using a breast pump and donates thousands of ounces of breast milk.
She says the look on a mother’s face when she receives donated breastmilk is “priceless.
In the wake of an unprecedented shortage of infant formula in the United States, a compassionate mother made an executive decision to pay for breast milk pumping so that babies in need could be fed.
“I spent the money to donate milk,” said Chiara Sottile, a mother of two and news producer from the San Francisco Bay Area (SFBA). “Initially, I was feeding my own son, but how could I stop when things have gotten so bad in this country?” I couldn’t bear to see these families giving their children light condensed milk when they ran out of formula.”
The shortage of infant formula has sent parents across the country into a panic about whether their babies will get enough to feed.
It’s not just the monetary cost
Sottile decided to keep the breast pump she rented to provide breast milk to families who hadn’t been able to find formula during the crisis. It cost her $92 a month, and there was no medical reimbursement. the 35-year-old estimates she donated thousands of ounces of breast milk to breast milk banks and families, including one that adopted a baby.
She pays the price in other ways, too. She says: “There are monetary expenses, but there’s also time away from the kids, busy in the back of the car and in the lockers at the shoot location.” The mother says she feels “privileged” to help absorb these costs, but she is angry at a system that she believes disadvantages nursing parents.
Although she had planned to wean her 13-month-old son months ago, she couldn’t bring herself to cut off her breast milk supply so she could help families who were struggling. “We see babies hospitalized because their caregivers have no better options,” she says, “and my supply is so overwhelming that it’s a gift to be able to share.”
On a recent work trip, Sottile was busy pumping water on planes, in public restrooms at airports and in hotels, she says, netting about 60 ounces. After meeting a local mother, Sottile knew exactly what to do with the milk: “I opened my little cooler bag and gave her the milk,” says Sottile, who had a baby with her who was about to drink evaporated milk. She was stunned and sobbed with gratitude. You can’t expect someone to give you breast milk directly.”
Sottile says that while delivering breast milk coolers to breast milk banks in her area is a reward, seeing the look on the mother’s face is priceless. She says: “The $92 monthly payment, every hour sitting next to a gas station, is worth it.” “There’s nothing better than seeing a grateful parent and a baby who is confident and happy to eat because of you.”
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