So, You Wanna Milkshare?

World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center

Welcome to the World Breastfeeding 2013 Blog Carnival cohosted by and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center!
This post was written for inclusion in the WBW 2013 Blog Carnival. Our participants will be writing and sharing their stories about community support and normalizing breastfeeding all week long. Find more participating sites in the list at the bottom of this post or at the main carnival page.
There was a time when I was pumping upwards of 25 ounces a day; back when I was working and Jemma was reverse cycling and barely drinking any of my pumped milk during the day. The freezer was full and the milk kept coming. I had pretty much pumped myself into an oversupply.
One day it crossed my mind that my extra milk should be going to a mama and baby who needed it. I began researching milk donation and when all was said and done, I donated both fresh and frozen milk over the course of a few months.
First and foremost, I often hear about breast milk being purchased. I do not at all support this means of breast milk transferring. Putting a price tag on breast milk creates and environment for dishonesty. If someone can profit from breast milk they are much more likely to hide eating habits, medications, health concerns, dilute the milk and the like. There is plenty of breast milk to go around and a number of organizations are making free milky matches every day. Reimbursing the cost of storage bags and shipping is definitely ok though, maybe even providing a pump, but breast milk itself – it should cost nothing.
I donated milk three different ways – an official milk bank, through Eats on Feets and peer to peer.
  • San Jose Milk Bank | In my early pumping days I discovered I had excess lipase, my milk wasn’t spoiled, but due to this condition, it wasn’t drinkable by an individual baby. Through a simple application and blood test (paid for by the milk bank), I was approved as a donor. The milk bank organized and paid for overnight shipping of my donation and off it went! The excess lipase was not a concern with the milk bank because there multiple donations are mixed and therefore, the lipase issue diluted. Also, milk bank breast milk is usually distributed to high needs babies who use a feeding tube so taste isn’t an issue.
  • Eats on Feets – Community based milk sharing like Eats on Feets or Human Milk for Human Babies is an accessible way for any mom or baby in need to put out a request for breast milk. It’s organized mainly on Facebook and divided by pages specific to state or region. If a mom has a breast milk need she can post it on the page. Just the same, if a mom has a donation she can post that too. Excess lipase can’t be corrected, but modifications to my storage routine allowed my breast milk to be stored. So, I responded to a need on my local Eats on Feets page. A sweet mama and I partnered and I shared part of my freezer stash with her and her little girl. In addition, since fresh milk (before the excess lipase scalding process) is always best we made arrangements for her to pick up my pumped breast milk a few times a week in my work’s parking lot.
  • Peer to Peer Sharing – When one of my friend’s returned to work she wasn’t quite pumping what her son needed. As we journeyed through the struggles of motherhood she shared her need and I quickly offered a bit of my stash. 

So, there you have it three ways to spread the milky love!

Pumping in a spare office – my designated pumping space
With future donations, my first choice will always be peer to peer milk sharing. It starts with having those conversations early on with friends and family – if you’re comfortable, offering to wet nurse or pump if a mama friend is ever in need. And then, finding a reciprocal situation for yourself. 
Next is community sharing. With strangers extra precautions need to be taken, but mothering brings about a common ground like no other and more often than not, friendships grow and flourish … just as babies who enjoy that shared milk. 
Lastly, the milk bank. There is definitely a need there and I don’t mean to downplay that at all, but it is technically selling which makes breast milk a deluxe commodity. And it just shouldn’t be that way. In my situation, the milk bank was the perfect answer to my excess lipase issue. Had the milk bank not taken my excess lipase breast milk, it would have gone down the drain … and that is never a good place for breast milk.
So, you wanna milkshare? I say, give it a go! It’s a priceless gift to both give and receive. And something that isn’t as new or farfetched as it sounds.
World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival - and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center Visit and The San Diego Breastfeeding Center for more breastfeeding resources and WBW Carnival details!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Below are a list of links for today’s participants; you can find a complete list of links (updated throughout the week) at our main carnival page:
(This list will be updated by afternoon August 5 with all the carnival links.)
  • An Unexpected Formula-Fed Attachment — Kyle (of JEDI Momster and) writing at Natural Parents Network, exclusively breastfed three healthy babies. So when she was pregnant with her fourth, she assumed she would have no breastfeeding troubles she could not overcome. Turns out, her fourth baby had his own ideas. Kyle shares her heartfelt thoughts on how she came to terms with the conclusion of her breastfeeding journey.
  • It Take a Village: Cross Nursing — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares how cross-nursing helped her baby in their time of need, and how that experience inspired her to create a community of cross-nursing and milk-sharing women.
  • Random little influences and Large scale support communities lead to knowing better and doing better — amy at random mom shares how her ideas and successes involved with breastfeeding evolved with each of her children, how her first milk sharing experience completely floored her, and how small personal experiences combined with huge communities of online support were responsible for leading and educating her from point A to point D, and hopefully beyond.
  • Mikko’s weaning story — After five years of breastfeeding, Lauren at Hobo Mama shares how the nursing relationship with her firstborn came to a gentle end.
  • My Milk is Your Milk — Lola at What the Beep am I Doing? discusses her use of donor milk and hhow she paid the gift back to other families.
  • World Breastfeeding Week 2013 Blog Carnival – Celebrating Each Mother’s Journey — Jenny at I’m a full-time mummy lists her experiences and journey as a breastfeeding mother.
  • Working Mom Nursing Twins — Sadia at How Do You Do It? breastfed her twin daughters breastfed for 7 months. They made it through premature birth and NICU stays, her return to full-time work, her husband’s deployment to Iraq, and Baby J’s nursing strike.
  • So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each.
  • Milk Siblings: One Mama’s Milk Sharing Story (and Resources)Amber, guest posting at Code Name: Mama, shares how her views on milk sharing were influenced by her daughter receiving donor milk from a bank during a NICU stay, and how that inspired her to give her stash to a friend.
  • Humans Feeding Humans — Krystyna at Sweet Pea Births shares ideas on how we can celebrate all the different ways modern mommies feed their babies. While we are comfortable with the breastmilk-formula paradigm, she proposes that we expand our horizons and embrace all the different ways mamas feed their infants.
  • When Breastfeeding Doesn’t Go As Planned — MandyE of Twin Trials and Triumphs shares the challenges she faced in feeding her premature twins. She’s still learning to cope with things not having gone exactly as she’d always hoped.
  • Taking Back My Life By Giving Away My Milk — When Amanda Rose Adams‘s first child was born, he was tube fed, airlifted, ventilated, and nearly died twice. In the chaos of her son’s survival, pumping breast milk was physically and mentally soothing for Amanda. Before long her freezer was literally overflowing with milk – then she started giving it away.
  • The Tortoise and the Hare — Nona’s Nipples at The Touch of Life discusses why we care about breast milk and formula with everything inbetween.
  • Finding My Tribe of Women Through Milk Sharing — Mj, guest posting at San Diego Breastfeeding Center shares her journey breastfeeding with low milk supply and supplementing with donor milk using an at the breast supplemental nursing system. She shares the impact milk sharing has had on her life, her family, and how it saved her breastfeeding relationship.
  • Human Milk for Human Babies — Sam at Nelson’s Nest shares her perspective on milk-sharing after an unexpected premature delivery left her pumping in the hopes of breastfeeding her son one day. Sam’s milk was an amazing gift to the other preemie who received it, but the connection was a blessing in the donor mom’s life too!
  • Sister, I Honor You — A mother feeding her baby is a triumph and should be honored, not criticized. Before you judge or propagate your own cause, go find your sister. A post by Racher: Mama, CSW, at The Touch of Life.
  • Every Breastfeeding Journey Is Different, Every One Is Special — No two stories are alike, evidenced by That Mama Gretchen’s collaboration of a few dear mama’s reflections on their breastfeeding highs, lows and in betweens.
  • A Pumping Mom’s Journey — Shannah at Breastfeeding Utah shares about her journey pumping for her son, who was born at 29 weeks.

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  1. […] So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each. […]

  2. […] Of course there are safety precautions to take when sharing breastmilk, but if you’re on the giving end thanks to oversupply or the receiving ends thanks to low supply, know that you have options. Remember: it’s always ideal for your baby to get your breastmilk straight from you, then your expressed milk from a bottle, then another mom’s breastmilk and then either a quality homemade or store-bought formula. Here is a bit of my experience with milksharing. […]

  3. […] So, You Wanna Milkshare? — Milk banks, informed community sharing and friends, oh my! So many ways to share the milky love; That Mama Gretchen is sharing her experience with each. […]