I have never been so happy to see breastmilk LEAVING my freezer! Now, before you freak out, let me explain! Remy is now just over 9 months old. During this time, I have been pumping about 36 ounces per day while Remy consumes about 26 oz in a 24-hour period. Given that I have about a 10 oz surplus of milk each day, I have built a healthy freezer stash (up to 1500 oz!). Since we are more than halfway to our goal of breastfeeding/breastmilk for a year, I thought it was time to clear out the stash while also giving to a great cause!
Because of my efficient pumping, I am very lucky to be able to produce enough breastmilk and nutrition for my little one, but not everyone is so lucky. Some moms may not even have their milk come in, no matter how hard they try. “But what about formula?” Modern technology has allowed us to replicate (as much as possible) breastmilk in the form of formula and has allowed so many babies to thrive. But some babies cannot tolerate formula or have sensitivities. So thank goodness for milk sharing!
What is milk sharing?
Milk sharing is the idea that whenever possible, babies should be nourished by breastmilk, either from their own mothers or from mothers and families who are willing to share it. Social media is used to connect families, empower women and nurture babies. While there are multiple milk sharing organizations, I have been able to connect to mothers through Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB), which is a volunteer-only network whose mission is “to promote the nourishment of babies and children around the world with human milk. We are dedicated to fostering community between local families who have chosen to share breastmilk”.
How to milk share
On your local HM4HB Facebook page, you’ll see posts of moms requesting to SHARE or OFFER breastmilk. For moms requesting milk, they’ll post where they are located, how far they are willing to travel, and any diet restrictions from their baby (dairy-free, low lipase, etc.). Some moms that are requesting milk also offer to replace storage bags. For moms offering milk, they will usually post where they are located or where milk can be picked up, how much they have to donate, and any other pertinent information (diet, caffeine, any medications or vitamins, etc.). People will then comment or private message to each post.
My milk sharing experience
Through HM4HB, I have been able to connect to three moms who were requesting breastmilk for their little ones and it has been a lovely experience. What made each experience even sweeter was the ability to meet each family. Seeing and holding the babies that I am able to provide a little nutrition for was an absolute honor. Even better were the hugs that the moms would give me as we said goodbye and held back tears. There is something so emotional about a hug between two moms who are supporting each other in the best interest of their children that no words need to be spoken.
Overall, I love milk sharing and have donated over
200 300 500 2,000 oz of my own breastmilk to 4 6 babies. I will continue milk sharing as long as I am able to! Below are some additional resources as well as links to milk sharing programs.
Have you donated or requested breastmilk before? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!