Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Milk Sharing... a whole new community!

I'm sure most of you have heard of banked milk, right? Unfortunately, banked milk must be prescribed by your physician in which most will only prescribe if medically necessary. Medically necessary? Aren't all babies worthy of human milk? The low quantity of breastmilk pasteurized by milk banks is reserved for those babies who need it most, which I completely understand. The babies in the NICU, for example, are at high risk for Necrotizing Enterocolitis (a deadly gut disease occurring in mostly preemies in which a portion of the bowel dies). Babies in the NICU are also at a much higher risk for infection and can use all the immunity they can get. So what do the moms of babies who want to breastfeed but can't, for one reason or another, do?
There lies a great resource... milk sharing! Since the beginning of time women have been sharing with babies other than their own and many cultures still embrace wet nurses (when a woman breastfeeds another child in the community). In October 2010 Emma Kwasnica began a selfless journey of creating a network for mothers all over the world to donate/share breastmilk. Today Human Milk for Human Babies http://www.hm4hb.net/ is successfully driven in 52 countries worldwide! There are several other milk sharing communities as well.
The Food and Drug administration issued a warning against the sharing of breastmilk in December of 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/Health/breast-milk-fda-weighs-risks-human-milk-banks/story?id=12327503. Still, donating and receiving human milk seems to make people uneasy. Someone pointed out on facebook, "you wouldn’t hesitate to get an organ transplant if you needed one (or if your baby did). Donating blood seems totally normal. So why the squeamishness about breast milk?" Despite FDA warnings mothers are marching forward. They are weighing out the possible risks, screening donating moms and continue to search out those with a surplus so that they can avoid giving formula to their children.
I follow a great blog called milksharing.blogspot.com. You can find it in the right hand column of my homepage. Personally, I fully support milk sharing. In fact, I hope to be able to provide pumped milk to an adopted baby in my community. Being able to contribute brings me great joy!

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