It’s World Milksharing Week

Milksharing.  It’s one of those hot topics in the interwebs these days.  But what does it really mean?

We know that breastmilk is the normal food for the human infant.  Ideally this would come ‘right from the tap’ of his own mother.  However sometimes things don’t work as we would hope.

Sometimes babies are born early, sometimes there are physical abnormalities which complicate things, and sometimes there are hormonal imbalances with mom.

When breastfeeding isn’t starting off perfectly there are options moms can explore.  According to the World Health Organization when direct feeding from the mother’s breast is not possible, the next best option is expressed breastmilk from mom, and then the breastmilk of another human mother.

Did your eyes just bug out of your head?

There are some options for milk sharing.  For starters there is Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB) which has many facebook groups for local areas where moms can post and share needs and donations.  There is the non-profit network of Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) banks. And lastly there are for profit groups. Personally, I am concerned about the ethics of the for profit banks, but that’s something you can explore.

Still have questions?  I figured you would.  

I talked to the lovely ladies at the Indiana Mother’s Milk Bank (a HMBANA Bank) about milk banking donations.  Here’s what they had to say – 

The Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank believes that breast milk is best for ALL babies. We provide pasteurized donor human milk to critically ill NICU babies across the midwest.

To become a donor, a mom will need to have given birth in the last year, be a non-smoker who is in good general health, be willing to fill out our Potential Donor Packet and have a blood draw at the expense of the Milk Bank. Once the milk bank receives a mom’s documents we will set up a blood draw at a national lab. When all the blood results are received, our Clinical Coordinator will review the information and approve her. Once approved we will work with a mom to find the most convenient way for us to receive her human milk donation. We can provide her with everything she will need to ship her milk directly to us or we can arrange for her to drop off her milk at one of our 13 convenient milk depot locations  or if she is relatively close to us we will come to her home to pick up her milk.

We ask that our donors be willing to donate at least 100oz of breast milk that has been stored for 6 months or less and was pumped before her baby’s first birthday.

If any you or someone you know is interested in helping babies in need, please visit our website to start the process or you can call Breanna our Donor Mother Coordinator at 1.877.829.7470

And I talked with the lovely ladies at HM4HB this is what they had to say about informal milksharing – 

HM4HB is a global milksharing network, a virtual village, comprising thousands of people from over fifty countries. We are mothers, fathers, adoptive families, grandparents, childbirth and breastfeeding professionals, volunteers, supporters, donors, and recipients that have come together to support the simple idea that all babies and children have the right to receive human milk. We use social media as a platform for local families to make real-life connections and come together as sustainable milksharing communities where women graciously share their breastmilk. HM4HB is built on the principle of informed choice: we trust, honour, and value the autonomy of families and we assert they are capable of weighing the benefits and risks of milksharing in order to make choices that are best for them. We hold the space for them and protect their right to do what is normal, healthy, and ecological.

Two organizations with the same goals – get human milk to human babies – with two ways to go about making that happen.  If you are in need of breastmilk for your baby, or you end up with more milk than your baby will consume, you can decide what the best option is for your family.

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