Disclaimer: I am sharing my personal experience about milk sharing and resources available for moms interested in pursuing it. This is not intended as medical advice. There are inherent risks in accepting breastmilk from others so please keep that in mind. The FDA advises against milk sharing so take that for what it’s worth.
I posted last week about a family here in Savannah facing unspeakable tragedy when a woman and her mother were killed in a car accident leaving behind her husband and three children, the youngest of which is a nursling. The baby refused formula and would not eat adding to the family’s stress in a time of grief. A local woman reached out to different social media groups in a desperate plea for donor breastmilk and over three hundred women answered the call. I myself donated and shared among my local community. This was not my first time donating milk though. Last time I donated to a local mama whose supply had dipped. What surprised me was how many people didn’t know about milk sharing so I thought it was about time I wrote this post.
Back in January when I went started PA school and had to pump during the day I was extremely nervous that I would not be able to keep up with Bryn’s needs. I feel incredibly fortunate that I have had an excellent supply this entire time and have been able to provide enough milk to meet her needs as well as stock my freezer. When I realized that I had more than enough I reached out to Katie to discuss the possibility of donating. A milk bank wasn’t going to work so instead she suggest I consider milk sharing. And I did.
So what is milk sharing?
Milk sharing is when someone donates their extra breastmilk to another family. It’s more mom-to-mom than through a bank. A mom can be in need of milk for a number of reasons like low supply, baby is adopted or fostered, or heaven forbid something happens to the mother which is what happened here last week. Now I have to admit if this had been brought up to me before having kids or even right after Emmalyne was born I would have thought it was really weird. Now I see milk sharing as a gift that you can give to another person.
You see, these moms are just trying to keep their babies on breastmilk as long as they possibly can. For some babies breastmilk is medically necessary. For others, the mom is struggling to meet their child’s needs and wants to keep their baby on human milk for as long as possible. I can tell you that for all of these moms, regardless of the reason for their request, are extremely grateful for every donation, big or small.
While I don’t think it should take a tragedy like what occurred here in Savannah for women to step up and donate, I do think that it helped bring awareness to milk sharing as a whole and was a powerful demonstration on how social media can be used in such a positive way. Personally, talking to Katie really opened my eyes to the possibility. Now that I know more, I shudder thinking about the breastmilk that I naively threw away when I didn’t use it with Emmie. That could have helped someone out!
SO, if you’re a mom and you find yourself with an abundance of breatmilk I encourage you to consider sharing it with another mom. I personally went through Human Milk 4 Human Babies which is an awesome organization with chapters all over the country. For ours, if you have milk to donate you can post it to the Georgia FB page or you can simply respond to another mom’s request. It’s really very simple. The same thing goes if you find yourself in need of breastmilk.
Regardless of how you personally feel about milk sharing I hope that this post helped to bring a little more awareness to milk sharing so that it doesn’t take a tragedy for people to know that such a possibility exists.
Had you ever heard about milk sharing before?