Mothers helping mothers: Janie & Charlotte

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Janie Bigelow comes from a family of caregivers and nurses. Her grandmother, Charlotte Schloeder, worked as a nurse in the OB department at Tri-County Health Care before retiring. Her mother is also a nurse. Their dedication to health inspired Jani to care for others, leading her to a career as a nurse in obstetrics, much like her grandmother. Janie’s story is about mothers helping mothers.

Janie and Charlotte

Nurses are known for providing support in all aspects of medical treatment but even nurses need help sometimes. Janie gave birth to Charlotte Lucille Bigelow in December 2019. After her birth, Charlotte was admitted to intensive care due to respiratory stress. Charlotte couldn’t breathe without the use of oxygen. Additionally, Jani had a difficult time producing milk for her newborn daughter. Charlotte needed milk to thrive, leaving Janie in a difficult spot.

Janie and her family needed milk donations after Charlotte was born. She donated milk so other mothers could have the same support she received.

Fortunately, fellow mothers had stepped up and soon Janie received steady donations of milk. “We relied on others for the nutrition she needed to grow and remain healthy during our stay in the NICU,” said Janie. “Now I know how much blood, sweat, and tears go into pumping and I will forever be grateful for what we received for our baby Charlotte,” said Janie.

Janie didn’t give up. She was determined to produce milk for Charlotte. With encouragement from her family and friends, she went on to produce enough milk. She produced so much that she had a surplus. This milk couldn’t go to waste, especially after she received so much help from others. Janie has been donating her milk in the hopes that she can extend her care as others had done. At this time, Janie has donated 1,200 ounces and she hopes to donate even more after she gives birth to her second child in November 2021.

“I am just so happy to be able to donate back to other families. It makes my heart happy knowing there are babies who are thriving because they received donated breast milk. I had other moms help me out when I struggled and now I can help too!” – Janie Bigelow

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies

Labor and Delivery Supervisor Sarah Riedel manages milk donations in partnership with Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies. The Golden Valley-based organization provides donated milk to mothers in need. Tri-County Health Care is a donation site and Sarah is an Internationally Board-Certified Lactation Consultant. Since the start of the milk depot, Riedel has overseen donations from all over Minnesota.

How to donate

If you find that you’re producing excess milk, please consult a doctor before donating. Then contact a donation site like Tri-County Health Care. After filling out the paperwork, a representative from the milk bank will contact you for a phone screen. From there, you will provide health history information and go through testing. After approval from the milk bank, you will be given a donor number. This donor number needs to be placed on the milk container. The last step is to schedule a date with a drop-off site.

To learn more or donate milk at Tri-County Health Care, please visit our Milk Depot page or contact Sarah Riedel at 218-632-8741.


Milk donations for 2020

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Pregnancy is one of the most difficult things a woman can experience. However, the challenges don’t end after birth. Sometimes new mothers discover they can’t produce enough milk or none at all. This common occurrence can cause anxiety and feelings of failure. Every mother should have the support and the milk depot at Tri-County Health Care helps them make milk donations.

Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies

Labor and Delivery Supervisor Sarah Riedel has managed milk donations in partnership with Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies. The Golden Valley based organization provides donated milk to mothers in need. Tri-County Health Care is a donation site and Sarah is an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant responsible for receiving donations. Since the start of the milk depot, Riedel has overseen donations from all over Minnesota. She knows from firsthand experience how important it is for newborns to receive breast milk.

Naomi Horn donated 1660 ounces of milk in 2020

Naomi Horn: 1,660 ounces

The milk depot received 5,080 ounces of donated milk in 2020. 1,660 ounces came from a single donor. Naomi has three children and knows how important good milk is for a growing baby. She was always blessed with an abundant supply of milk, so much that she threw out excess milk with her first two children. She vowed to do things differently with her youngest, Moriah.

Naomi experienced many issues feeding Moriah; she wouldn’t take the bottle. After four months of trying different bottles, nipples, and temperatures, Moriah finally took the bottle. Naomi produced so much milk in the meantime that she filled two large freezers. Not wanting to waste any milk, she contacted Tri-County Health Care and Sarah Riedel for assistance. In only a few months, she saw her donation drive away. Since she donated so much, a representative from the milk bank personally came to her home and picked up the donation.

Liquid Gold

“It’s liquid gold,” said Naomi about her milk. With her third child, she didn’t waste a drop. She discussed the pressure on women to produce milk. She wants to remind everyone that raising children is a delicate process, and if you can’t produce milk, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. Services like the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies exist to help. Naomi also encourages mothers that produce excess milk to donate. She described donating as incredibly rewarding and an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Donating milk is easy and rewarding.

How to donate

If you find that you’re producing excess milk, it may be wise to consult a doctor before donating. After that, contact a donation site like Tri-County Health Care. After filling out the paperwork, a representative from the milk bank will contact you for a phone screen. From there, you will provide health history information and go through testing. After approval from the milk bank, you will be given a donor number. This donor number needs to be placed on the milk container. The last step is to schedule a date with a drop off site.

To learn more or donate milk at Tri-County Health Care, please visit our Milk Depot page or contact Sarah Riedel at 218-632-8741.