Pregnancy

Mom donates 18.5 gallons of breast milk after newborn son dies

 (iStock)

A grieving mother whose son died only 11 days after birth resolved to donate as much breast milk as she could, which wound up totaling 2,370 ounces.

Ariel Matthews gave birth to son Ronan in October and documented his story on Instagram. The posts revealed Matthews had a miscarriage and a stillbirth last year, after which she also donated breast milk.

“I think because he came early, I just didn’t produce as much,” Matthews, 25, told PEOPLE of last year’s donation. “So I made another goal, if my body would let me, to try for 1,000 ounces. And then I just decided to keep going with it once I hit it.”

The San Jose, Calif.-based stay-at-home mother began pumping as soon as her breast milk came in, and her total donation surpassed her total body weight. Between all three donations, Matthews has given 2,801 ounces.

“It felt really good to donate it all, especially because I would get hugs from the moms when they came to pick it up and thank yous,” she told PEOPLE. “And that the moms were trusting me to give their babies my milk— it feels really good.

She told the magazine she received pictures from moms of their babies sleeping following feedings.

“I like to know that there’s actually people being encouraged by this,” she told PEOPLE. “I’ve even gotten messages on Facebook saying this has really helped me, that I hope I can be like this.”

Matthews’ donated milk went to two mothers whose milk never came in and one mother who had adopted a foster child.