When a Loved One Spills Breastmilk: A Guide on Dealing with Loss

Forgive me working mommy lawyers – but as you know, sometimes you just can’t make it work. It’s been one of those weeks for me. I could beat myself up…..or put it in perspective: Baby O is well; I’m still married, and I still have a job. Be back next week, but in the mean time, don’t want to leave you hanging so here is a guest blog from Y.G. Marley. My favorite line? All Ounces Matter.


by Y.G. Marley

For anyone that’s ever personally experienced this tragic loss, the range of emotions experienced in a relatively short amount of time is mentally exhausting. Below is a brief insight into what your loved one may be experiencing:

Shock and Denial: W.T.F. No! No, no, no – did that just happen? Maybe I can scoop some back into the bottle? A towel! That’s what I need. Soak it up with a clean towel, ring it into a bowl, run it through a sift, boil it, put it in the freezer, good as new. Who am I kidding? Oh my gosh. Really? Really?!


Bargaining: okay – you know what? It’s fine. I’ll just start pumping again, catch that second “let down” and everything will be fine. That’s a thing, right? Second letdown? I see moms post about it all the time in my nursing FB groups. Yeah, if I can just get a second let-down to make up for the spilled milk, even just a portion of it, everything will be fine. C’mon girls. You can do it…any second now…any….

Depression: There isn’t a second let down. They lied, it doesn’t exist, my boobs are floppy and empty like tube socks filled with nickels that are all pooled at the bottom, and my precious liquid gold is gone. Gone. Never to be used again. Never will it quench my little one’s hunger, or provide soothing comfort in a bath. Poof – just like that. It’s not coming back and I worked so hard – so hard for those glorious ounces, just to watch them soak into the ugly colored-carpet in my office, leaving behind only a massive, spiteful stain. A reminder of what once was. And now my baby will starve, and it will be all my fault…How could I let this happen? How did I let this happen?

Acceptance: No, you know what, it’s fine. I’m human – I make mistakes, and life will go on. I have to put things in perspective. He nursed really well this morning, I have a little in my freezer stash that I can use to make up for the loss. He won’t starve, I will continue to pump. It really could be worse. I should be grateful for all the milk my body has been able to produce thus far, and as long as my baby is fed, that’s all that really matters.

What can you do to comfort your loved one through this difficult time?

Offer support. Drop what you’re doing (no pun intended, because this isn’t a time for jokes). If she’s crying, cry with her, hug her or send a tear-filled emoji or gif (but only if you’re texting. Sending a text to your significant other with whom you’re in the same room/house is ill-advised in this situation). If she’s belligerent, act like she is totally entitled and maybe yell with her, but don’t steal her moment. This isn’t about you. Generally, you should just encourage release of feelings and offer comfort (read: ice cream), because these emotions aren’t meant to be internalized, and stress inhibits milk production.

What should you avoid (if you value your life and/or union)?

Do not – I repeat, for the love of all that is good and sacred – DO NOT SUGGEST, IN ANY WAY, SHAPE, OR FORM, THAT IT IS NOT A BIG DEAL. Particularly if you do not know the struggle of breastfeeding/pumping. This crucial piece of advice could be the difference between life and death, your marriage and divorce, a night in the bed or a night on the couch. It is a big deal. It is the BIGGEST deal (at that moment). As my line sister often says, “All Ounces Matter.” Act accordingly.

2 thoughts on “When a Loved One Spills Breastmilk: A Guide on Dealing with Loss

  1. OMG. I just had a horrible flashback to those pumping days. I went through all those stages in 2 minutes. The struggle is real, people!! Thanks for enlightening the loved ones of those going through this.


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