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.
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.