Long before formula was invented, mothers who could not or would not breastfeed their Sweet Peas sought out other nursing mothers to feed their children. Before bottles were invented, they got it straight from the source: hence the name "wet nurse".
One such biblical example is the Princess of Egypt searching out a wet nurse for the baby she rescued from the reeds. Women of nobility were known to seek out wet nurses. There is also a sad history of wet nursing amongst slave owners, where they forced their slaves to nurse the master's children and deny that milk to their own children. The future master subjugating in infancy - a sad commentary indeed.
Anyway, now that we are in the age of the internet, mothers with excess milk supply and mothers with low milk supply can find each other. As a grassroots movement to feed human milk to human babies without an exchange of money, it is called community milk sharing.
As it relates to today's quote, community milk sharing cuts the demand for cow's milk, thereby reducing the effect of dairy farming on the environment. Even though community milk sharing is not making a huge dent in the demand for dairy products, my philosophy is that making a change in your corner of the world always counts!!
Aside from community breastmilk sharing groups and connections that are made mother-to-mother, there are also non-profit and for-profit companies who run what are known as "milk banks". Milk banks screen the donor mothers, run blood tests, and test the milk before a donor is accepted. A non-profit accepts donor milk only - no money is given to compensate the donor for her gift. Some for-profits pay the mother for the milk, a controversial proposal since the mother is then incentivized to sell her milk instead of feeding it to her own infant.
Once the milk is received, the milk bank processes the milk: it is pasteurized and packaged. Then it is sold on the open market. It can be purchased by hospitals or private citizens - again, that all depends on the milk bank. This is where a non-profit can recover the cost of operation (read more HERE); and where a for-profit makes their profit.
If you are interested in community breast milk sharing, I am going to direct you to the comprehensive website, Eats on Feets. Eats on Feets was actually started by a Phoenix midwife, and she has taken the responsibility to heart and fleshed out a full range of resources for the donor and the recipient from due diligence through the screening process to suggestions on how to have a respectful milk sharing arrangement (click HERE for their resource page).
So if you or someone you know is receiving pressure or if your care provider is recommending that you supplement, know that there are options aside from buying the formula first. Reach out to your local community, or find a milk bank if you are more comfortable with that, and see if you can feed your baby human milk before you go the formula route.
If you have a stash of breastmilk in your freezer PLEASE DO NOT THROW IT OUT!!! Reach out to your local Eats on Feets or HM4HB Facebook group, or to one of the milk banks. There is someone out there who would treasure your milk!!
Do you know anyone who has participated in community breast milk sharing? How did it go?
More reading on milk sharing
ProLacta (Tiny Treasures Milk Bank)
Mother's Milk Cooperative
Chandler-Gilbert La Leche League
Live, Latch, Love
August 13, 2016 from 4:30 – 8:30 pm
Click HERE for more info
Phoenix La Leche League: Live, Latch, Love
As part of the LLL area conference
August 26th, 5-7 PM
Embassy Suites Biltmore
La Leche League Conference
August 26-28, 2016
Embassy Suites Biltmore
Register Here: www.lllofaz.org/area-conference
The material included in this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog and video contain information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained in this video and on our blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.