Got Milk. Will Share!1
When you think about babies and their food source where does your mind go? Do you think about the mama nursing her baby at the breast? How about giving milk by a bottle? Maybe it is pumped milk from the mum, maybe a bottle of formula, or maybe it is donor breast milk?
Hold up! Donor BREAST milk? Breast milk from some other person fed to another baby? Hmm, where is your comfort level right now?
I know a few lucky babies that have been given donor breast milk in lieu of their own mamas breast milk. Some had personal reasons that they didn’t want to breastfeed and still wanted the benefits of human milk. Some didn’t make quite enough milk and needed a bit to top up a bit with the donor milk. Others had tiny babies that needed lots of food in those first few days before milk is abundant. There are lots of reasons babies may need another mamas pumped breast milk.
Back when I was pregnant, both times, I did think about getting access to extra breast milk via the local milk bank at BC Women’s Hospital. As a diabetic mum there is a chance that when my either of my babies were born their blood sugars could dip, requiring food in an emergent way. If I didn’t have quite enough first milk (colostrum), they would need more milk some how and some way. It would either be formula or it could be donor milk. Luckily for me, I was dripping with the good stuff at the end of my pregnancy.
Last month I went on a pumping spree and was pumping and storing my breast milk in hopes that my baby would actually take a bottle and I could go out for more than 2 hours. Turns out, baby Josie would rather get her food direct from the source and turns her nose up at bottles and artificial nipples. So, in my freezer sat over 800 ccs of delicious pumped milk all bagged up and waiting.
I am so fortunate that I am a mega milk producer, milk drops everywhere and wet shirts are the norm for me. Fat fat baby thighs are what I grow and my milk is more cream than skim. I am thankful for this abundance because I know there are many mums out there that wish for the same experience. Some mums do everything they can and the supply is just is not there.
When I heard a friend might need a little extra milk for her newborn baby, I offered up my stash. I collected it over a short period of time with a manual hand pump and stored it in special bags to be frozen. The milk flows over here, so I might as well share it around if I can. After a short time thinking about accepting my milk, my friend thought it was a grand idea and so I toted the whole frozen stash over to her house.
I have guidelines around lay breast milk sharing. At the same time, if my baby needed extra food I would hope that it could be breast milk. I’d hope that I would know someone, personally enough, that they would donate to me. I have strong personal and professional beliefs in the power of breast milk, so much so that I would seek it out if was in the situation of needing more food for my baby. I know that I would be thinking, ‘come on lactating friend, help a sister out!’.
My personal limit on breast milk sharing is knowing the source and I don’t feel comfortable getting donor milk from an unknown source. However, there is a whole community of breast milk sharers out there. Some people donate and some people sell their milk for money. Some of the recipients are other babies, some are people with health conditions and a select few have a genuine personal enjoyment of the fresh sweet stuff.
What do you think about lay milk sharing? Does it make you feel uneasy or would you take your friends/family members milk if your baby needed it? The poll will be open for one week, so cast your votes on the topic.