Would You Share Breast Milk on Facebook?

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Facebook is the place where old boyfriends contact you out of the blue, former high school cheerleaders befriend former nerds, and conversations about politics get heated. It should come as no surprise then that the number one social networking site in the world is also becoming a place to share breast milk.

It makes sense. Roughly one in 13 people on the planet is now on Facebook. That makes it the perfect place for an organization like Eats on Feets, which was started in July 2010 by a midwife. She was trying to match breast milk donors with people whose children had health issues.

Though not recommended by the FDA or the American Academy of Pediatrics who say it puts babies at risk for HIV, hepatitis B, and other infectious diseases, sharing breast milk online is here to stay, it seems.

"We cannot recommend the sharing of breast milk over the Internet," says Lori Feldman-Winter, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Instead, Feldman-Winter says, mothers in need should turn to one of the country's 11 breast milk banks.

Sharing breast milk is a strange topic. With certain people, the idea is repulsive. To others, it's completely normal and not strange at all. Obviously, the FDA frowns upon it, but women have been sharing breast milk since the dawn of man. I've heard stories of women banding together after the death of a mother and nursing her infant to six months. I've heard stories of women saving the lives of infants who had allergies whose mothers couldn't nurse.

Breast milk is powerful stuff and a gift whose value cannot be overstated. The idea of another woman putting her breast in my child's mouth makes me a little uneasy personally, but that doesn't mean I can't see the value it could have for women who can't nurse.

NPR interviewed Lindsey Ward, a woman who received breast milk over Facebook. She tried the legal "breast milk banks," but found them cost-prohibitive.These banks take donations from pre-approved nursing mothers and the milk is pasteurized. Preemies, who stand to gain the most from breast milk -- including protection against necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious intestinal disorder -- get first dibs.

Ward did contact a milk bank in North Carolina in her search for breast milk for her son.

"They said I'd need a prescription," she says. "And it'd be $3.50 per ounce. And I saw that, and my jaw dropped. And I was like, There's no way we could afford that."

She was able to get the milk she needed through the Facebook group. In fact, eight different lactating moms have donated milk to Ward and my initial discomfort was alleviated by her blog.

I thought my son would never have the breast milk he deserved ... I am completely satisfied now that he is off formula entirely. I feel better about my "failure" at breastfeeding because of Eats on Feets and the generous moms who have donated to us.

The fact is, not every mom can breastfeed, and if this helps alleviate some of the guilt associated with that "failure," then great. I am supportive of anything that ends that ache of guilt for moms. We all have it and it's awful.

It requires a great deal of trust, to be sure. But on some level, one has to have faith in the (literal) milk of human kindness. We have to hope that a woman who was sick with anything that could be passed through the milk wouldn't put herself in a position to donate.

What do you think of the idea of donated breast milk?

 

Image via Dlisbona/Flickr

breastfeeding

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celes... celestegood

I'm an avid supporter of eats on feets on facebook!  It's beautiful how a woman who has tons of leftover breastmilk shares with another who needs it for her child.  Women who are affected by disease don't breastfeed (in general; in pregnancy you are tested for all of the diseases that breastmilk can theoreticallypass on) so I would feel very comfortable accepting breastmilk for my son.  I have seen eats on feets save babies who are very allergic to formula.  I've seen them thrive on donor milk.   It's beautiful and I can't imagine why it would be a negative thing. 

miche... micheledo

I love it and think I will check out the group on facebook.  I don't know that I would use milk from a stranger (I have close friends/family I would ask first), but I would certainly donate!

Kelli... KelliansMom

I love this idea. My grandmother would donate her milk to hospitals all the time even well after she was done having children ...

Lynette Lynette

I donated to a friend last yr. 

Phils... PhilsBabyMama

I think it's great.  I had an over supply of milk with my son and gave my extra milk to a friend who wanted it for her baby.

mol13 mol13

I donated milk to someone I met on Facebook before Eats on Feets was established and hooked her up with a mom I knew in her area as well. Her son couldn't tolerate formula, but she couldn't produce enough milk. She thankfully discovered that they both had a gluten intolerance and now he is a big healthy boy! The donor milk was better than the formula and definitely helped them until they got over the hump.


Human milk for human babies!

david... davidsgirl2010

25 years ago I had a daughter and a friend did too...we were both breast feeding. When we traveled together places, whichever baby cried (I was the driver) my friend would climb in the back seat and nurse that baby....I did not mind it at all. I saw it as an act of love and kindness. She had so much milk. And my daughter was hungry, and didn't care one bit. Women have done this for eons, and babies have been just fine. Kudos to these generous, caring women who are sharing what they have to mothers and babies who need it. I applaud you so much.


Julia's Mother

Randi02 Randi02

I love it :)


No one says the milk has to be untested, you're more than welcome to have the donor tested for disease and infection. It's just a blood and milk test, I decided to have myself tested back in September.


I've donated my milk through Eats on Feets. Every baby deserves breast milk :)

thedg... thedgoddess

I donated my freezer full to my sister when her baby had failure to thrive. Best thing I ever did.

Samantha Putnam

I love milk sharing :)
I am one of the mamas who donated milk to Lindsey for baby Joshua. My husband is the trucker who met Lindsey at the rest area on I95. I am fortunate to be able to make enough milk to not only exclusively breastfeed my own son, but to be able to pump milk to donate to two more precious baby boys. I supply milk to a friend of mine who does not produce enough milk for her son David, and am working on another donation for Joshua.

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