Amy Sturm Chambers has helped to feed at least 10 babies with her extra breast milk. “My mom jokingly says I’m a dairy cow,” Amy laughed. “I just have had an abundance of milk since our second baby, Reese, was born in January last year.”
Breast milk in a bottle
Amy’s breastfeeding journey has been anything but conventional. She and her husband, Paul, planned for Amy to breastfeed their first child, Hailey. “Breastfeeding was free and formula was expensive,” she explained. “And, for us, it was what we felt was best for our baby.”
“Breastfeeding with Hailey didn’t go so well,” Amy said. “It took three people helping me in the hospital to try to get her to nurse. She just wouldn’t latch. She was a pistol from the day she was born — Oct. 25, 2015! The hospital gave me a pump and said to see what happens.”
The new family made the best of the situation. “As we were leaving the hospital, I remember thinking, ‘I guess the pump and I are going to be good friends,’” Amy admitted.
For six months, Amy pumped and fed their baby from a bottle with her breast milk. She froze the extra breast milk.
During that time, she saw on Facebook that there was a local mother who had overdosed and passed away. Her baby was two weeks younger than Hailey. “I thought I had a pretty good supply at the time so I gave whatever I could of my breast milk. Ironically, I gave too much and then I had to reach out and ask some moms I knew through daycare for breast milk until we could transition Hailey to formula. Those moms were so kind,” she said.
More than enough
When Reese was born, Amy and Paul again thought Amy would be able to breastfeed. “Reese had jaundice so badly that she had to stay under the glow light for at least 24 hours. The doctors told us that I could pump, but I’d have to bottle feed her in the hospital,” Amy said.
“With Hailey, I used a Medela pump and it worked just fine. But with Reese I chose a Spectra pump and it has been a game changer. My insurance company paid for it,” she commented. “It’s not loud so you don’t feel like everyone’s looking at you. I could pump in the office and it was much easier. There are lots of options on the Spectra.”
Amy decided to pump like she had with Hailey, and feed Reese her breast milk from a bottle. “It just seemed right for us,” she remarked. “When I started pumping, I found I had an over supply of milk. When I realized this, I knew that I would try to help whoever needed it. After all, I knew how it felt to be without enough. I’d gone through that with Hailey.”
Paul and Amy currently have four freezers, mostly filled with breast milk. “Paul’s dad gave us one that he had and we have two deep freezers along with our regular frig,” Amy said. “I’m ready to have my freezers back,” Paul adds with a smile.
With Reese having turned one-year-old in January, Amy said she’s working on shutting down the operation. “I’m proud of what my body has done. I wasn’t really good at sports or at the top of my class growing up, but I can definitely feed babies!” Paul commented, “Amy has done great and it’s awesome having two healthy little girls.”
Helping feed babies
“I feel blessed and grateful to be able to help someone else whether one time or ongoing,” Amy said. Her breast milk has helped babies from Lexington, Richmond, Frankfort and even North Carolina. “A friend from here has a close friend who lives in North Carolina. She had her baby prematurely and I was able to send 5,000 ounces to him. I’m so happy that baby is thriving,” Amy remarked.
Amy said she has given milk to families who learned about her through friends and also from a few breastfeeding groups on Facebook. “People could post anonymously that they needed milk and you could message them on that board as a safe place,” she said.
As of the time of this interview, Amy had about 7,000 ounces (which she said expires one year from time of pumping) in the freezers. She has plans for much of it.
“There’s a mom in Frankfort who’s having a baby through a surrogate so I’ll give a ton of it to her,” she said. “I grew up with her husband. A while back, I gave them about 1,000 ounces and she was so grateful. I will probably have enough milk saved to feed that baby for six months. Paul told me that to them it’s a wonderful gift.
“Then, there’s a mom in Richmond who’s in need because of illness. Someone at work reached out and asked if I would be willing to contribute to that baby, so I’ll do that too.”
Amy estimates that she has pumped between 20,000 and 25,000 ounces of breast milk. “It was an inconvenience sometimes but so worth it!” she said. “At the end of the day, you just want your babies to be healthy and growing. This is one way I can help.”