Meet the ‘milk mommas’ who share an unbreakable bond – by donating their breast milk to feed each other’s babies in their hours of need.
Kelly Brennan, 30, gave nine litres of milk to her friend Susie Schmitt, 32, and both women later turned to Kelly’s college classmate Brittany Wigman, 33, for help.
Brittany – an ‘overproducer’ – had more than enough milk to feed her own baby, so gave Kelly and Susie 30 litres from her precious stash.
Despite Brittany and Susie not knowing each other at first, the women – who have nicknamed themselves the ‘milk mommas’ – say they now share an unbreakable bond.
Kelly, a former TV reporter from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said: “It came full circle. I donated my milk to somebody and then somebody else donated it to me
“It is emotionally overwhelming when you see another baby thriving because of the milk you were able to give. The benefits are lifelong.
“Susie, Brittany and I are bonded for life through this – we have helped raise each other’s babies.
“Brittany is now affectionately know as my baby’s ‘milk momma’.”
The donation chain began in February when Kelly’s daughter Caroline, now 11 months, suffered a reaction to her breast milk and moved onto formula.
When Kelly was at her local Target stocking up on the $40 formula, she bumped into an old friend from elementary school, Susie Schmitt, perusing the same aisle.
Susie, 32, had recently given birth to her first child Allison, eight months, but could not produce much milk despite taking vitamins and supplements.
Hearing her plight, Kelly, who had been storing and pumping her milk in case Caroline recovered, offered her old pal nine litres of milk from her own stash.
Speech therapist Susie, who lives with husband Mike, 31, an electrical engineer, said: “We had been to the doctor so many times.
“My body was just not producing milk. Some women don’t.
“Allison was losing weight because I couldn’t breastfeed. Kelly said, ‘Oh my gosh, do you want my milk?’
“After I thought about it, I said: ‘Heck, why not?’ My daughter liked it and she drank it.”
By June, Kelly’s newborn daughter Caroline was able to return to breast milk, but her own supply had dried up.
She said: “I wanted to introduce breast milk again but my milk had dried up. I was trying to re-lactate and I shared about my struggle on Instagram.”
The mum, who also has a daughter Lily, three, received a message from Brittany, who she went to Ohio University with.
Brittany was producing more than enough milk to feed her own babies, so donated 30 litres of the precious liquid to feed both Kelly and Susie’s newborns.
Kelly, who is married to Kevin, 31, an accountant, said: “I cried when Brittany offered me her breast milk.
“I was just so happy that somebody was willing to do that and another mum saw the importance of it.”
Kelly loaded up her car with coolers and drove two hours to Cleveland, Ohio, to collect sales manager Brittany’s milk.
She said: “I packed up two huge coolers of her milk. There was so much milk that I couldn’t fit it all in my freezer so I gave the rest to Susie.”
As well as donating to Kelly and Susie, Brittany, a mum-of-two who is married to Jason, 33, a teacher, has given milk to five complete strangers to feed their babies.
The supermom said: “I happen to be an overproducer of milk. I pump five times a day and I will produce a little over two litres of milk throughout the day.
“I first donated in 2014 and the following year I donated again when I had my son. The first five people I donated to were complete strangers.
She added: “Knowing the health benefits of breast milk and what a rich nutritional resource it is, I couldn’t rationalise just dumping it.
“Plus it really bummed me out that mums are being charged for something that I make naturally.
“I’m bonded with these two women for life – we’ve helped each other raise our babies. It’s a beautiful thing.”