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.

What do I tell him?

What do I tell him?

Yesterday I was heading home with my husband.  We had spent the weekend visiting his sister and brother in law.  My mother-in-law was behind us with our girls and we had a full load of stuff.  At 38 weeks pregnant, I’m not much fun on a car ride, so Wes turned on one of the comedy stations and was trying to keep himself from getting too bored or tired on the long drive.

We were both laughing along.  He was talking about raising kids and being that we have a 7 year old and a 3 year old and a new one arriving sometime very soon we could totally relate.  And then the subject changed to breastfeeding.  I knew this was not going to end well.

The comedian was talking about being at the doctor’s office with his son and a woman started feeding her baby.  He said that he knew the questions were coming, and what do I tell him?  At this point my pregnancy hormones are welling up inside of me, and the inner ‘go mom’ cheerleader is ready to fight anyone who tries to interfere with a mom feeding her baby.  I looked at the radio and said, “She’s FEEDING her baby!!”  What is so hard to comprehend?

He goes into this big long spiel about how women have these things called breasts, and when they have babies they fill up with milk.  The kid says, ‘like jugs?’  Dad says Nnnnoooo!!  Not jugs, the audience laughs, and he continues fumbling over his words.  Then makes a mental note to write that one down.

Now I know that I’m lucky.  I grew up with a mom who breastfed me, and my younger brother.  I have photos of her feeding me in the hospital, and I have memories of her feeding my brother.  I always knew breastfeeding as normal.  It makes me sad that for so many of us it’s not.

In the times when we would sit around with our aunts, cousins, sisters, and mothers watching them nurse their babies we were much more prepared for what would happen when it was our turn. Today most women have no idea what breastfeeding truly looks like.  How many moms struggle and suffer because we have this attitude of shame about something so very natural and beautiful?

It’s time to take back breastfeeding.  It’s time to tell the world that it’s not a joke, it’s not something to be ashamed of.  It is what mothers do. We get pregnant, we give birth, our body makes milk to feed our young.  It’s quite simply just the way it works.

Let’s focus on supporting mothers, not joking about them.  How can we support you?  What was missing when you started down your breastfeeding journey?


Are You Mom Enough?

Are You Mom Enough?

I’ve seen that line all around the internet today, and I have to say, it makes me upset.  I’m sure by now you’ve seen the newest cover of Time Magazine and you’ve heard lots of commentary on their piece on Attachement Parenting, Bill & Martha Sears, and the cover photo of a mom breastfeeding her toddler.

I’ll be clear by saying that the parenting mechanisms that work for my family may not be what works best for yours, and I fully accept that.  I don’t expect every family to fit the same mold.  What I do expect is that we can respect each other.

I know many moms who make choices that are different from mine, and they do it with the intention of doing the best that they can for their child and what works for their family.  Telling ANY mom that she isn’t ‘mom enough’ is an awful thing.

This is where the ‘Mommy Wars’ start and why they continue.  Because we allow sensationalist headlines to take a hold of us.  We allow the media to say that if you don’t breastfeed your three year old you’re not mom enough (for the record, both of my girls nursed beyond their 3rd birthday, but I won’t judge you if yours didn’t).

Listen moms, you ARE mom enough, and you don’t need Time Magazine or anyone else to tell you that.  You need to trust your instincts, you need to research the things that are important to you, and you need to do the best you can with the information and resources available to you.  For every single one of us that means different things, and that’s ok.  You do what’s best for your family, and I’ll do what’s best for mine.  Let’s stop judging one another for doing things differently and let’s make sure we don’t allow the ‘Mommy Wars’ to continue.  Let’s support each other and help each other.  THAT shows that you’re ‘mom enough.’