A few days before her September due date, Catt McGrath, 29, noticed something was off. The mom-to-be woke up and didn’t feel her baby—a boy she’d named Daniel—moving in her belly. She tried not to worry, but a few hours later there was still no movement. She went to the doctor, and that’s when her worst fears were confirmed. “The nurse tried to find his heartbeat and couldn’t find it,” McGrath told People. “I started crying. I knew. Then they did an ultrasound and I could see his head and his spine and nothing was moving.”McGrath and her husband, Dan, learned that Daniel died from a “true knot” forming in the umbilical cord, People reports. If a knot forms in the umbilical cord and remains tight, it can cut off circulation to the fetus and can result in fetal death in utero, according to the National Institute of Health. It’s very rare, and it typically is caused by the fetus slipping through a loop in the umbilical cord. Doctors told McGrath that her “true knot” probably formed earlier in her pregnancy, but it wasn’t until Daniel got bigger that his circulation was cut off. A true umbilical cord knot is usually formed between nine and 12 weeks of gestation.Daniel was stillborn, and McGrath and her husband were devastated. Soon after the delivery, McGrath started to produce breast milk. And that’s when she decided to donate her breast milk.
“I started pumping right there at the hospital, and the first two weeks it was amazing,” McGrath told People. “I was thinking, there are so many babies that need this.” For some new moms, producing breast milk—which can pass important antibodies from a mother to a newborn—is difficult or impossible. Experts have previously told SELF that using another mother’s breast milk for a baby is safe as long as the proper precautions are taken, like knowing the mom’s medical history and diet.McGrath pumped for three and a half months, donating her milk to a milk bank in her home state of North Carolina as well as to moms who needed additional breast milk in her hometown of Charlotte. Sometimes, it was difficult for McGrath to pump, knowing that her breast milk was really meant for Daniel. But she kept at it. People spoke with one mom, Alexandra Malissen, who used McGrath’s donated breast milk to feed her newborn daughter. Malissen was struggling with her own breast milk supply, so McGrath’s donated milk was a welcome supplement.”It’s unreal to think that someone who is going through one of the most gut-wrenching, life-altering, heartbreaking experiences is still willing to sacrifice and pump for other people’s children,” Malissen told People. “It’s mind boggling.”McGrath, your selfless act in a very difficult time will truly help so many. Our thoughts are with you and your family as you continue to heal from your loss.h/t PeopleRelated:After This Mom Tragically Lost Her Son, She Donated 131 Gallons Of Breast MilkMoms Came Together To Donate More Than 500 Ounces Of Breast Milk For A Baby After Her Mom Was Killed In The Line Of DutyMeet The Mom Who Donated Over 2,000 Ounces Of Breast Milk