American couple Amy Anderson and her husband, Bryan, both 34, were given worrying news when their son was at 15 weeks gestation. They were told by doctors that their unborn baby had a lower urinary tract obstruction (LUTO), before he was tragically lost at 20 weeks when he was stillborn.
The Andersons discovered their son, who they named Bryson, had died on Oct. 28, 2010 and Amy delivered him two days later. At the time, Amy’s doctor recommended that she bind her breasts but she chose to trust her intuition instead and began pumping her breast milk to donate by Nov. 3.
Amy told TODAY.com, "I thought to myself, okay, I have this milk. Now I need to figure out what to do with it."
“At the time, I didn’t know what I would do with the milk, but I knew I needed to stop trying to prevent my body from lactating,” she added when speaking to Philly Voice.
The mother of two found comfort in pumping milk as she reveals she would look at ultrasound photos of Bryson.
"That was my time to unwind and be with my angel. It helped me work through my grief," she told TODAY.com.
Yet when Amy asked her former employer if she could fit in breaks to express milk during her working day, they said, "Your baby is dead."
Amy's employer then told her that the Break Time for Nursing Mothers law didn't include bereaved or surrogate mothers. For this reason, Amy left the company in a bid to campaign for a change in terminology of the law to include all lactating women.
Amy recently received a response from a state legislator who offer help. "It doesn't matter whether or not you now have a baby to hold. I was a lactating woman with physical needs," Anderson told TODAY.com.
The Andersons had two children prior to Bryson's stillbirth. Brody, 8, and Owen, 2. But Bryson isn't Amy's only "angel baby." She has also suffered three miscarriages.
When Amy discovered that the use of human milk could lower the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a bowel disease that causes parts of the intestines to die and is the second leading cause of death for premature babies, she believed she could make a difference by donating her own milk.
Amy had donated 92 gallons (approximately 350 litres) of breast milk to five milk banks in four different states after pumping for eight months. Amy was responsible for more than 30,000 feeds.
Amy is volunteering for Mothers' Milk Bank Northeast and currently completing certification to become a breast milk consultant.
"Family and friends were always so nervous to bring up Bryson's name and didn't realise that I needed the acknowledgement, but now with what I'm doing, he gets brought up every day, which makes me smile," Amy said.
To find out more about Amy Anderson’s work, visit her Facebook page “Donating through Grief.”