Heartwarming Gift from Martin’s Point Nurse Nourishes Babies Throughout the Northeast

Posted 4/12/2022
Ashton Rego with her child holding her donated breast milk

The difficult delivery of Ashton Rego’s first child prompted one incredible gift. This spring, Ashton — a nurse at Martin’s Point since 2017 — donated 2,000 ounces of her own breast milk for babies and moms in need.

Now six months old and thriving, her son Griffin spent his first night in the newborn intensive care unit. Instead of reuniting right after birth, Ashton didn’t get to greet her son until several hours later. Meanwhile, Ashton and her husband Eric agreed to feed Griffin with donated breast milk. Eric gave Griffin his first bottle at just one hour old, while Ashton was still in the operating room.

“Breastfeeding was one of the greatest goals I had for my parenting journey. While feeling so helpless being away from my baby, it was such a relief that he was being nourished by human milk,” recalls Ashton. “We ultimately purchased donor milk prior to discharge to feed him until I was able to provide him my own milk.”

Baby surrounded by moms donated breast milk.

Pumping for two
Ashton had heard about a shortage of donated breast milk broadcast on social media — and also knew how critical breastmilk can be for vulnerable babies and those born prematurely. This information — combined with her personal experience — got her thinking.

As luck would have it, Ashton was an “oversupplier,” producing about 50 ounces of breastmilk each day — enough to feed twins, noted her lactation consultant. This allowed her to pump enough to feed both Griffin and have extra milk to freeze and store.

First setting a goal to donate 1,000 ounces to Human Milk 4 Human Babies, Ashton realized she could do this without jeopardizing Griffin’s health or her own. On she went, to donate a second 1,000 ounces to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast, a nonprofit that benefits vulnerable babies throughout the region.

“I pumped for 21 straight days — four 30-minute sessions each day,” said Ashton, first working with her primary care physician and getting cleared by the milk bank. It’s important that breast milk is free of certain medications that premature or sick newborns may not be able to process.

Donating milk pins

Reaching her goal

Ashton kept a running total on her calendar, hitting 1,000 ounces for the second time on March 4 — a very big day.

She delivered it to Maine Medical Center in Portland, a milk bank collection depot, using a small amount of her paid volunteer time — a Martin’s Point employee benefit — to make the trip. “I was so ecstatic! While I’m not sure where my milk will be dispersed after it is pasteurized, it was such a good feeling to deliver it to the hospital that saved my baby’s life and where my breastfeeding journey began. I’m thankful to Martin’s Point for their support throughout.”

“I never take for granted the gift I was given — an overabundance of breastmilk,” says Ashton, who has worked in health care since age 16, attracted be the opportunity to care for others, learn continually and engage in critical thinking. “My heart breaks for those whose breastfeeding journey doesn’t go as planned or who struggle to maintain an ample supply.”

It’s important to Ashton that Griffin is involved, too. She took pictures of him along the way and talked to him about the endeavor. “He may only be six months old, but I want him to always feel called to give back. I can’t wait to share the pictures and story with him when he’s older.”

Ashton Rego with her child surrounded by her donated breast milk

To learn more
You don’t have to donate 1,000 ounces of breast milk make a difference for moms and babies in need. In fact, the bank requires an initial donation of just 150 ounces for qualified donors. To learn more, visit the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast website at milkbankne.org.