All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Mum 2 Mum Breastmilk Sharing Orgs, Genius.....or not?

The concept of breastmilk sharing, whilst not new - is something most of us have heard more about than usual over the last couple of weeks, due to a couple of new organisations setting up to facilitate easy sharing.

The first official share setup I saw was a couple of years ago now at, and I briefly toyed with the idea of something similar in the UK.  On several levels it appears the perfect solution, mothers who have too much breastmilk can give it to those who don't have enough - easy!  Liberating for mothers, great for those who have older infants and want to donate and potentially capable of aiding a large mental shift in terms of what we feed our infants.  However there were too many questions I didn't feel comfortable with, and in light of the new orgs - I still have these concerns.

Firstly and probably most obviously what about Breastmilk Banks?  I appreciate they don't by any means catch all areas - but there is surely a risk that those who are within area will either not know of this option (if the orgs do a good job of promoting themselves, this could become an more obvious choice) or it could even become preferable.  Will mothers get more "donor satisfaction" from replying to a real life mum who can express her gratitude for the milk?  Banks are usually run by busy medical staff, who perhaps aren't always as obviously grateful as a specific mother.

As it stands many banks don't have enough milk - the health implications of which are significant.  Hospitals with access to a bank give tiny prematures/NICU babies "first dibs" on the milk, they can then if they have enough extend to older SCBU infants or term babies who need support (perhaps born to a diabetic mother and needs more immediately at birth)  Finally if the bank is full to busting - they can then potentially offer excess to the community.  This rarely happens at the moment because most banks aren't full - although an example today was a message circulated from Cheshire & North Wales that they had an excess of pasteurised donor milk which was available free of charge if a mum needed it.

The trouble for Milk Banks is they're expensive - mums are screened, milk is transported, pasteurised and refrigerated which of course all cost.  If donor numbers fall some banks could easily be put at risk.  And what of the prematures?  For a 26 weeker breastmilk can almost certainly be the difference between life and death, they need such a tiny amount (Just a few mls) that standard donations can help so many preemies!  Will mums of an infant in NICU/SCBU soon be having to hit a website to get donor milk?  then sort screening and pasteurising the milk?  It would seem to me it would make more sense to at least run something like this alongside Bank support, or even by them to ensure they had adequate first? although the latter option perhaps not financially viable?

Which raises other questions - Milkshare gives guidelines about screening and details of how to pasteurise at home, but I can't seem to spot these on the UK sites.  I know whether to pasteurise or not is a topic of hot debate - but as home users are unlikely to be able to implement other techniques for testing milk, aren't most going to do this?  Do doctors freely screen mothers at request?  when it's for a milk bank the hospital sends the relevant forms for the donor to take to a nurse/blood clinic and they take care of screening.   How does this work without this referral (I can't seem to locate this information on the sites either)

So far I'm also a bit concerned at the lack of breastfeeding information accompanying the sharing ie do you really need donor milk?  steps to increase your own supply, relactation etc.  Information of where to get support to potentially rectify the situation or at least only use donor milk as a stop gap; whilst it is a better choice than formula, we should also acknowledge it's not comparable to a mother's own breastmilk.

A lot of mothers also don't know they can use their own frozen breastmilk to give their own child in other ways such as on cereals, smoothies or puddings - perhaps when they return to work etc.  When you think it can save the life of a preemie - it seems worth it, whereas I've seen shares for say a 6 month old on solids who is usually given formula but mum would prefer breastmilk.  One solids are introduced, is pasteurised and likely frozen/defrosted breastmilk more valuable to one infant than to the intended child?  particularly given so many are weaned so much before the immune system fully matures and the child self weans.

I'm not sure - I haven't really made my mind up one way or another yet.  I could have a ponder, read more and see things from a different angle so firmly on the fence at the moment.  What do others think?


  1. I can only give you a Canadian perspective on this as I do not live in the UK. In Canada we have one very lonely milk bank on the west coast of British Columbia that is run through the Womens Hospital in Vancouver. This milk bank only supplies milk for babies in their hospital and in the immediate area, and the milk is reserved for preemie babies and those being prepared for bowel surgery. That's it. Babies in need of human milk else where in Canada are basically out of luck. Babies that are NOT preemies, or not seriously ill are not even considered for milk bank donations. Such as baby Anaya who is terminally ill and unable to tolerate anything except breastmilk.
    There is not milk bank to give Anaya human milk, so those of us with contacts in the lactivist community searched out donors in her area to get milk to her. THAT is what Eats on Feets is about.
    And it's not just sick babies that need breastmilk donations. I've struggled with serious supply issues since my youngest son was 3 months old. I was lucky to know Dr. Jack Newman and be able to get into the Newman clinic quickly to get help... but there are mothers who are not as fortunate as I was, who have done everything in their power to build their supplies up enough to exclusively nurse their babies, yet still cannot produce enough milk. That is What Eats on Feets is also about.
    Basically, human milk for human babies- however we have to get it to them! :>)

  2. Emma you are more than welcome to email me if u wish, or reply here on site - or indeed totally ignore my post lol that's the joy of the web isn't it. Of course if these are issues your specific org have already thought about and addressed I will update my blog post to say so! I did remove your post for now as three mentions of your org in three sentences, read rather like an advert....and given it was purely to say I was welcome to contact you, wasn't removing any content relevant to the topic.

    Danielle - I know the state of play is different in US/Canada etc. It's the UK my questions relate to :) It's obviously different if there is only one milk bank to start with. The UK has 17 (from memory?) plus other collection agents/centres.

    And I do understand it allows the "lactivist community" to be able to help others, and for mothers to get breastmilk who normally wouldn't -this is one of the big plusses I mentioned at the top :)

    QUOTE I was lucky to know Dr. Jack Newman and be able to get into the Newman clinic quickly to get help... but there are mothers who are not as fortunate as I was, who have done everything in their power to build their supplies up enough to exclusively nurse their babies, yet still cannot produce enough milk. END

    But this is a different issue entirely. What percentage of women do you think "have done everything in their power to build supplies yet still cannot exclusively produce enough milk" ?? Isn't it estimated that 98+% of women can with the right support? Which is why I think "the right support" alongside any donations of breastmilk is essential; a lot of women then could use donated as a stop gap whilst taking measures to build/rebuild their own supply.

    I can see all the great reasons for such a scheme - but as I say for me there are also at the moment unanswered concerns too...

  3. It's all about relative risk.

    Mum's own milk is less risk than human milk from a milk bank. That is less risky than unscreened donor milk, where there is potential for transmittable disease. And formula milk carries lots of known risks, as well as the unknown risk of contamination.

    A premmie has very limited resources for dealing with stressors, such as inappropriate milk. A term baby is more vulnerable than an older baby. Some babies have sensitivities, or weaker immune systems, so it is individual as well as age/stage that determines how important it is to give the baby the best milk.

    I understand why AA is sitting on the fence. After all, there is a vast hole in our public resources; if a mother is unable to produce enough milk for her baby, in the UK there are so few alternatives open to her.

    But I personally think it's taking attention away from the real issue. The point is that most mums who struggle to produce enough milk are stymied by systemic faults. The Breastfeeding Answer Book suggests that unavoidable primary lactation failure impacts 1 in 1,000 mums. Oversupply, by contrast, seems to impact quite a lot of mums - who then have a surplus that is screenable, testable, and distributable.

    Taking a short cut around this process (maximising the mother's own milk supply, and then supplementing with screened milk if nec) - which is what these mum-to-mum no-questions-asked websites are doing - is superficially attractive. In our society so few resources are directed to supporting mums and their babys to breastfeed. But that's mysogyny. Far, far better to fix the problem by helping mothers to breastfeed, than to offer bottles.

  4. Re milk banks: mother to mother milk sharing is NOT in competition with milk banks. In order for your milk to be accepted there are a number of conditions that must be met. It's not just illness, medications, vaccines etc that price to be obstacles. Things as simple as distance from the bank, age of infant and minimum amount to be donated at one time prove to be obstacles for many women. Regarding one UK group, the FIRST thing you see on the page is a paragraph urging women to try donating to a milk bank first, and only consider mother to mother sharing if they don't pass the strict guidelines of UKAMB. These projects are still new, and I trust that info regarding screening and pasteurisation and increasing/inducing/maintaining lactation will be forthcoming... Meanwhile, i soeculate that any woman determined and savvy enough to seek out and use milk sharing is bound to have been in contact with their doctor, LLL and IBLC, in which case they will have very likely already been given the low down on risks and the importance of addressing their own supply (if supply us the problem, it isn't always... Cancer patients undergoing treatment often gave to stop breastfeeding and if their child is not a preemie or otherwise vulnerable, they have no recourse but formula. Personally I am glad that this is being addressed!

  5. I live in a place where informal milk sharing has always existed between a small community, as most women don't even breastfeed. I like the idea of a central place for it to happen. My deceased sister adopted two children. The first was bottle dependent when he arrived in her arms at three months of age and had horrible health issues related to formula, RSV, chronic ear infections, respiratory illness, asthma, chronic colds and bronchitis. She was unable to latch him at the breast and thus never built her supply, so donated breastmilk was their solution. She worked hard at milkshare. Almost two years later, she adopted her daughter at birth and did the complete protocol for adoptive lactation, but her supply was low. She took ALL of the steps, including the medication, pumping in between feedings, sns with her own expressed milk, lactation consultant, and support groups. She ultimately breastfed with human milk supplementation via the SNS. Again, milk sharing was the best option for her. I am concerned that as a lactivist you would undermine the movement to share milk as opposed to offer constructive criticism to make it work better. For women who would otherwise turn to formula, milk sharing is the best option, and I support the movement and lament that you would just write it off or make assumptions about it.

  6. Adverts? I have to laugh. The *references* I left you with my comment which you deleted were so that you could look into the org. a bit more closely, perhaps read our FAQ, and then do a better job of accurately informing your readers on the subject. Since when is censorship an effective means of communication?

    Bewildered, in Montréal.

  7. Yes, it's estimated that 97% of women are physiologically capable of nursing their infants exclusively. But that number does not take into account the women, like myself, who's milk supply dropped radically due to latching issues. My son was severely tongue tied- but because I didn't have any pain I wrongly assumed that his latch was "OK". by the time I realized the magnitude of our latch issues, my supply had dropped by 75%!!! I had to fight tooth and nail, take Dom, herbs, drink ludicrous amounts of water, eat oats, pump/express several times a day.... 5 months later I'm still doing all of this to maintain my supply which dips drastically if I take my attention off it for even a day. Going through this has made me realize how common this is- a poor latch causing supply issues. If it's caught before 3 months, many times the mother supply can be brought back to normal, but if it isn't..... many time the mom is on Dom for the rest of her nursing relationship. I'm a lactivist, I have 5 kids that I breastfed, I've councilled other mothers about breastfeeding, yet I still fell into the latch trap! If I can fall prey to the dreaded supply issues, you can imagine how easy it would be for a new mother with no experience to fall into this trap too. I"ve managed to do without milk donations, but it was very close for a while there. I had friends who offered me milk- how many other mothers out there have a connection to the breastfeeding community strong enough to get offers of milk from provinces away? Again, that's what we are trying to accomplish with Eats on Feets.

  8. QUOTE Re milk banks: mother to mother milk sharing is NOT in competition with milk banks. In order for your milk to be accepted there are a number of conditions that must be met. It's not just illness, medications, vaccines etc that price to be obstacles. Things as simple as distance from the bank, age of infant and minimum amount to be donated at one time prove to be obstacles for many women.

    But something can surely also be in competition with something else, even if it doesn't intend to be in competition? by the very nature of easier, less obstacles and potentially more "user satisfaction", I think there is a risk it will be competition? I understand all the obstacles (some such as medications/illnesses/lifestyle perhaps for a reason) as well as other issues such as distance/donation amounts. I also I recognise all the plus points for milk sharing - because I question some aspect doesn't make me anti? I also think there are things people passionate enough about this issue could do to help remove the barriers of banking - such as becoming involved with collection, supporting women etc to try and improve what's already there. As I said above, perhaps running closely aligned to the milk banks so older donor milk can be utilised effectively whilst ensuring preemies have enough. I'm not at all against the concept of milk sharing :) I just have questions/concerns about the knock on effect/implications. One person shared details of this group with "milk banks are expensive and not the way forward, this is the future of milk sharng" - hence me wondering whether parents with infants on NICU will soon need to hit a website.

    QUOTE Regarding one UK group, the FIRST thing you see on the page is a paragraph urging women to try donating to a milk bank first, and only consider mother to mother sharing if they don't pass the strict guidelines of UKAMB.

    Ok, I just visited the main .org page and didn't see it mentioned there.

    QUOTE These projects are still new, and I trust that info regarding screening and pasteurisation and increasing/inducing/maintaining lactation will be forthcoming.

    Well there's info there at the moment regarding screening which says:
    QUOTE You can ask questions about lifestyle, medication use (including herbal supplements), illnesses, whether they smoke, etc. If the recipient feels the need to request a blood screening for diseases that can be transmitted through breastmilk, it is up to the donor and recipient to reach an agreement as to who will cover the costs. END

    "If the recipient feels the need to request blood screening" ? to me at least seems to imply sharing non screened milk is standard? if mum can't afford the costs of screening is she more likely to accept unscreened? is there somewhere on site that fully outlines pros and cons of this?

    QUOTE FROM SITE "Do I need to flash-pasteurize my milk?
    Flash-pasteurizing, AKA heat treating, can be done by the recipient, at the recipient's discretion"

    I have now found a link there to a youtube video about pasteurising - but there doesn't seem to be any evidence based information about screening v not or pasteurised v not so parents understand the implications and can make an informed choice? Apart from viruses etc there is the potential to share bacterial infections, or for contamination during prep/storage?

    Perhaps as you say more information will appear -I think it important enough to need to be there from the start though?

  9. I think you should change your title if your only talking about the UK. and yes go get some information. you are in sore need of it. :/

  10. Luly as I say I already recognise all the pro reasons for sharing - you're preaching to the converted. I think the milkshare site also has loads of good info about supply and supports breastfeeding - which needs to (I think) feature heavily on any milksharing site. I can totally see a way for something to need to work - but non of that answers any of my points as to concerns over how these current initiatives will work in the UK (some areas of US I believe cancer patients can also obtain via prescription from milk banks)

    QUOTE I am concerned that as a lactivist you would undermine the movement to share milk as opposed to offer constructive criticism to make it work better. For women who would otherwise turn to formula, milk sharing is the best option, and I support the movement and lament that you would just write it off or make assumptions about it.

    I may be a "lactivist" (hops in to the alloted box ;)) but I also question and ponder things a lot. That doesn't make me "undermining the movement" - I made it quite clear that at the moment I'm undecided how I feel about it, I wanted to hear the opinions of other breastfeeding supporters (as well as founder(s) of milksharing sites). For me just because something might result in more babies receiving breastmilk - doesn't automatically make it amazing (and I'm not saying it's not!) if it potentially has further reaching implications.

  11. QUOTE Adverts? I have to laugh. The *references* I left you with my comment which you deleted were so that you could look into the org. a bit more closely, perhaps read our FAQ, and then do a better job of accurately informing your readers on the subject. Since when is censorship an effective means of communication?

    Hi Emma - when someone questioned some of my ideas the other week on DBM, instead of being hostile I took the time to answer her questions. The result was I addressed her concerns and she became supportive.

    I did quickly look last night at FB and the homepage, as I had planned to email you (couldn't find any contact details on either, suspect I needed to hit the specific UK site or suchlike) - but decided I would like to hear the views of others and so post my concerns here. Instead of addressing those or even acknowledging any of them, or sending me a mail doing so if you didn't want to post in public - you left a message telling me you were from X milksharing org - that I could email you for a chat at said org or look at said orgs webpate and then give my readers "correct facts."

    There were three "references" to your org in a paragraph that added nothing to the post other than I could contact you. I haven't decided if I want to link to any of the UK orgs at the moment and as Blogspot doesn't have an edit feature, removed the advert.

    But what I don't understand is if I have the info wrong (which I may have) why not address which bits were wrong and explain why? so we could reformulate an opinion if needs be? why would I need to email you when my questions are here and you've obviously read them? I'm on the fence because I'm aware I'm not in posession of all the facts - hence my questions :)

  12. Danielle I agree with all your points :) which is one of the reasons I think effective support and information HAS to go hand in hand with milk sharing. I totally agree there is a gap and that mums need breastmilk sometimes! I'm just not entirely sure (for the reasons I mentioned) as to the best way to go about that without risking existing systems and indeed working with them to maximise priority, safety, support and information - just sharing milk as a stand alone objection raises loads of questions (for me)

    Someone suggested I should offer constructive criticism which is hard when they are questions I asked myself a while ago and couldn't resolve. Perhaps some central system so as not to defragment - mother wanting to donate goes to a central helpline and directed to either bank or "other" depending upon situation/circumstances/location.

  13. I am sorry. I am completely swamped right now with the launch for Eats On Feets GLOBAL. I have not taken the time to address each of the problems with what you have reported about our org. because I simply cannot --not right now. In the meantime, you have an ethical responsibility as a blogger to seek out the info you need in order to correct the info you have doled out in a blog post. The onus is actually on *you*. I linked to the EOF website in the origianl post which you deleted so that your readers could go and see *for themselves* what our org. DOES and DOES NOT do. I do not have the time to re-post it all here, it was simply a faster means for me to get the correct info out there. Please acknowledge this and PLEASE, I beseech you - read our FAQ. It will all be perfectly clear once you do, ok? Thanks for fulfilling your end of the deal as the blogger who opened the dialogue surrounding milk sharing, and who has reported inaccuracies about the Eats On Feets org.

  14. argh. I just read this now.
    You said :
    >Hi Emma - when someone questioned some of my ideas the other week on DBM, instead of being hostile I took the time to answer her questions. The result was I addressed her concerns and she became supportive.

    Would you not include deleting my original response to this blog post an act of hostility? Or even the ORIGINAL act of hostility here? Honestly, you need to look hard at yourself, first, before suggesting I am being "hostile" right out of the blue.

    I am sorry this has turned into this, but I can't deal with your inconsistencies. Shame, really, because I have really enjoyed reading some of your posts here in the past.

  15. That would be me that said "milk banks are expensive and not the way forward, this is the future of milk sharng". I stand by that; the current milk banking process just seems too labour/cost intesive to me. It basically means women handing over their milk to the institution, which gets to decide who is worthy of recieving it. I don't believe it would compete with the milk banks - perhaps they could even use this network to advertise for eligible donors themselves. I am very excited about the idea of mother to mother milk sharing because:
    - it brings the power back to women to choose what they do with their milk/who to choose it from
    - it adds to the sense of community and caring for each other
    - it normalises breastmilk and breastfeeding
    - I LOVE the idea of women using their inner knowing to asses a donor rather than just regulations and protocols (not saying they can't use both), which can sometimes get things wrong.
    - It must be more beneficial for a baby to recieve one mother's milk rather than a whole mix from different mothers... although, actually who knows?
    - It gives the option NOT to pasturise, which kills enzymes and damages/alters other components.

    I agree that there perhaps needs to be more info on the site re:low supply, milk banks etc. But I think even if it spawns a temporary movement towards people accepting donor milk rather than formula or resolving bf problems, I believe ultimately the spillover effect would lead to more breastfeeding. After all, it is much simpler to put baby to breast when the culture is supportive of breastfeeding... and this may be one of the things that creates that culture.

  16. Mostly Eats on Feets is just a space to connect. It is up to each mother/family to make their own decisions about risk. Eats on Feets has provided as much information to help families make an informed choice, but ultimately it is up to them. Some women may not be comfortable with informal milk sharing, and that's fine. But a lot of women are. A lot of women want to donate their stashes because they hate the thought of throwing away something that another baby needs.

    I know that a lot of people have worked hard to get Eats on Feets off the ground. We are adding new information and links as we go, as a need for information or clarification arises. A lot of chapters have posted links about how to increase supply, how to use a supplemental nursing system, etc. I would guess that most moms who are looking for breastmilk are doing everything in their power to feed their own babies.

    But even if they aren't, it's not up to US (by us I mean you, me, Eats on Feets, etc.) whether they get milk or not. It's up to any donors whether they want to share their milk with that person/family or not.

    On a personal level, I would have loved to have been able to find donor milk when my little boy was a newborn. I had some supply issues, which I worked on and ended up making breastfeeding work for 3 years! But he did have some formula. Not much, but it would have been much better to have had breastmilk from someone else.

    Jennifer Vaughn Trias

  17. Emma - you and your founders seem to have lots of time to swamp my blog with adverts for your services. Despite the fact I made it quite clear I didn't want adverts for your org left on my blog - you as founders have decided to ignore this and Danielle in particular has gone all out to fit the name in as many times as posslble. Because you clearly don't feel I have the right to raise any concerns or have a different opinion.

    As you are aware Wordpress can't edit - this leaves me with two options. To either leave your comments, delete them (at which point you will no doubt claim censorship which could easily have been avoided by respecting my wishes not to advertise yourselves) or three delete the whole blog post entirely. Not because I feel any differently but because I refuse to be bullied into advertising something I'm not 100% sure about....

  18. ok I will leave the posts with name dropping - I think members are capable of making their own minds up about things. I didn't particularly want to advertise something I didn't agree 100% with, and I don't think it's fab netiquette - but I guess it will mean the blog gets loads of reads (even if only Mel can appreciate any of my reservations ;)) as it will pull up my post when they google you. Perhaps I shouldn't have removed your orignal post - it wasn't an act of hostility but an act of not wanting to link to something I wasn't entirely comfortable with (which was mentioned 3 times in 3 lines). I felt your initial reply telling me I could email you and then I could "put my memebers straight" was quite a knee jerk reaction to my blog - especially given I was talking about milk share things as a whole, not just yours or one particular one! I've had links to a few in the last week or so.

  19. How can we name it then so that we can discuss this? There are a few things in your post that are incorrect, like what the UK page says. It may have said that at one point, but this is all still in flux. It just took on too fast to be able to stay on top of. There are a couple of points that you make that are worth looking into, at the same time, you seem to be talking about more than just us as there is some confusion it seems between milk banks, milk shares and us and you are seemingly addressing a conglomeration of that. Or at least the inconsistencies lead me to think this.
    Please take a new look at our FAQ and at the website and let's talk about what is relevant now with the info there is now.

  20. If using the name of an organization is considered an advertisement for it, how can said organization ever possibly be discussed openly?

    As far as I can tell, the links that were offered were to help clarify some of the info/questions you had. So if you don't want links, then would you prefer this movement to copy and paste all the information from their links into your comments section? That would strike me as spamming whereas a link allows your readers (and yourself) to go and find out the information for yourselves.

    I can hardly see this organization getting in the way of the milk banks. That would suggest that there is a finite amount of breastmilk to go around and we know that to be not true. I believe that Eats on Feets will be tapping into a market not associated with milkbanks. The single time donor/user. The Mother of a healthy infant needing surgery and requiring to pump and dump for a few days. The mother of an otherwise healthy infant who just, for one reason or another, cannot produce enough milk. All of these cases would NOT be covered by a milk bank (in the UK or elsewhere). Are these babies not worthy of human milk?

    Milk banks in the UK are VERY specific about the milk they collect and from whom. Apart from screening for drugs and disease, they also screen for caffeine, and prefer to only accept milk from Mothers of infants who are 6 months or younger with a virgin gut (no solids yet). This will exclude a lot of donors, including those who are perfectly healthy, but just have a baby who is now too old. *Which makes sense if the UK milk banks primary concern are feeding preemies and NICU babies.

    Eats on Feets truly is tapping into a different market then the milkbanks are. This can't be a bad thing, not if it gets more human milk out to more babies.

  21. OK, I see your post now before mine, that explains some. Still the mixing of the three different avenues (milk banks, milk shares and us) makes that people are not getting the correct information on what EOF does.

  22. Roma you make some really interesting points, and is more inline with the sort of reply I was expecting to receive to my initial post.

    I agree the current milk banking process is massively far from perfect - I sometimes think from hearing from mums, even some working within the system aren't that enthusiastic. But I also know some who really are and truly work hard to try and promote and improve the system. Despite this I think UKAMB could do a lot more to raise profile/donations/encourage women to donate.

    I also see what you're saying about women handing over milk to institutions who decides "worthiness". For me I see it as they screen, pasteurise and give to the most vulnerable to whom it can make a life or death difference and who also make most economical use of the small amount of milk available. I do think this should be extended to infants who are critically ill/with critical conditions ie where we KNOW it can make a massive difference. We do also know however that bacterial and viral infections passed to these vulnerable infants via unpasteurised milk can be life threatening.

    I also get there are women with older infants who want to donate, and people who want to obtain milk who will benefit, but it may not be a life/death matter. I also totally agree there should be systems for women to share this milk - I don't disagree with the concept at all! But I can agree and still have concerns over literal practice no?

    I appreciate you don't believe it would compete with milk banks - but unless there are systems in place to ensure the two agencies work harmoniously together, I personally think there is potential for it to - because of cost (a drop in donors could threaten services) and really because of the reasons you mention you are excited about it!! this is what does make it competition no? A lot of women may decide they would rather choose a suitable donor than let "an institute" decide who is worthy. As you say it adds to the community feeling at is likely to feel more gratifying.

    I guess it's a case of whether it should come down to mothers being able to use "their inner knowing" to choose a donor, or whether it should go to the most vulnerable. Which is really quite an interesting question.

    It would indeed be great if the two were aligned so banks could get something out of it.

    It gives the option NOT to pasturise, which kills enzymes and damages/alters other components - yes but I also think mothers should be given full information as to the risks and benefits of this. Even if someone is screened, other viruses, bacterial infection or contamination could be passed? is this significant to someone suffering say cancer with massively reduced immunity or a critically ill infant? I have no idea - but I would want to find out if I was involved in providing the information upon which people were basing such choices.

    I was also reading about the different pasteurisation methods and although levels of some constitutents are reduced/removed, some methods were worse than others (and the research results also very contradictory) flash pasteurising left quite a lot still going on :)

    I can't see many mainstream mothers looking to give unscreened/unpasteurised donor milk to their babies.

    Fingers crossed it will create a breastfeeding culture, and not a donated breastmilk culture - in much the same way the US trend is now to feed expressed BM.

    I don't think there's much more I can add to the topic - and fingers crossed I will be re-blogging in a few months saying everything I was concerned over was utter rubbish :)

  23. QUOTE Still the mixing of the three different avenues (milk banks, milk shares and us) makes that people are not getting the correct information on what EOF does.

    But to be fair my article was never about just EOF or what you specifically do - but milk sharing in general? you are classed as one of the sites that facilitates milk sharing no?

  24. I think you should just delete the whole blog post as you said and start again with correct information! You can answer your own questions and concerns if YOU wanted too, by actually doing some real research. Then you could in fact write a proper post about actually helping mothers make informed choices instead of making a whole big mess of miss information.

    Mother to Mother human milk sharing is just that mothers sharing their breast milk. And EOF is an amazing connection of women and families HELPING each other from all over the world.

  25. No, Armadillo, we are mother to mother milk sharing with no one in between, no fee to a milk share, or set rules of a milk bank. There is a big difference there I believe.

    As for competition: I believe, and strongly so, that there is enough milk for everyone who needs it. The amount of women who truly cannot nurse is very small, it comes down to education on all levels. I am still amazed at the lack of proper information in my local hospitals where I am with clients as a doula. Very frustrating. The same goes for many lacs too, believe it or not: do what you can to nurse or get formula is what many if not all mothers hear!
    So the competition is only a perceived one imo, a factor that drives much in our society but one that mothers can stand above I am convinced.

  26. I didn't realize you didn't name the organization. I guess it was so obvious to me that I didn't even notice.

    I do occasionally get comments on my blog that are actual comments, but with links to some totally irrelevant website. I consider that spam and advertising, but I do not consider a discussion about a particular group to be advertising. So I'm a little confused about that? You mentioned Milkshare by name, but not Eats on Feets. You could easily say that talking and mentioning an organization is in no way an endorsement. I think your readers would get that, wouldn't they?

  27. How unfortunate... the information that you are concerned about has already been revised and upgraded. ALL the chapters have uploaded a well written FAQ page. I believe most of your concerns are already answered there. Please be aware that this global endeavor has been up for less than 1 week so yes, there are a few pages that are in the works of being tweeked so we all have consistent information being given. I urge you to take a thorough look at the website and many chapters . No one is trying to "advertise" on your blog but since this blog is so obviously about us (ie your title) and quite misinformed,a link to the website so people can go read what is really there was, I believe the intention.

  28. Maria that is exactly what milkshare does - mother to mother with no bank, so yes it's the same. You state no fee but the site says screening costs are to pay.

    Maria you also mention the terrible information mothers receive from health care professionals -
    yet your site says if parents want to know more about the risks of milk sharing, to contact these same health professionals?! As you are facilitating sharing do you not feel providing factual details of evidence based risk is not also your responsibility?

    Jess my concerns have not vanished because you have updated some FAQ. I'm confused as this says EOF has been going a week, the FB says since July -anyway either way I would have thought issues such as safety and health screening etc would be key. As someone reading your site before my blog post, I have no idea whether your site is finished or you are planning to tweak things - nothing indicated anything was under development. The information as I found it was as mothers would see it when hitting your site.

    The new FAQ state hepatitis cannot be passed through breastmilk, before you then quote a reference. Yet the study quoted only examines Hep B?

    I'm interested how many mothers you have wanting this milk? I polled a lactivist strong natural forums and whilst nearly all would accept breastmilk from a close friend or family member -very very few were comfortable about unscreened milk from an unknown source. If these hardcore breastfeeders are hesitant, what is the demand like from mainstream mums, most of whom believe formula is nearly as good anyway?

    As you will note from the advert you placed on another lactation group, others also share my concerns.

    Oh and as for the "didn't realise name dropping was advertising", it was AFTER I asked for the group not to be advertised that hippychick went out of her way to slot it as many times as possible into her post. I left it as I'm sure readers can make their mind up for themselves not only about the site, but also the frankly quite rude way EOF have handled my post.

  29. I think the scheme is crazy, as well as the risks outlined, the potential for abuse is great (we know there are strange people who use the internet to meet extreme sexual desires, and it would be naive not to expect them to pop up on the milk sharing space). We all know (or should know) about 'lactation porn' and about people who advertise for lactating women to sell them
    milk or their breastfeeding services.

    I think milk sharing is a wonderful idea, but it is best done between friends and family who know and trust each other.

  30. Mums with milk to spare really should first contact their local milk bank, or if there does not appear to be one locally, could contact UKAMB - UK Association for milk banking. Some milk banks recruit over long distances and UKAMB can put potential donors in touch with their nearest bank.

    I think that potential donors and also recipients do need to be aware of certain facts before they commit themselves. I am not on facebook so apologise if this info is on there.

    Human milk banks in the UK follow the same screening protocols as the National Blood Bank. I.e all donors are screened for certain diseases, and also asked about medications etc. The donated milk is also screened at donation and then is pasteurised and screened again. All these details can be found at

    We all like to think that we know of our friends, relatives etc lifestyles. However we need to think further than that. Do you know of
    all the sexual partners in their lives? If you do know that, then do you know the health of those partners too? How far back?
    Not to put too fine a point on it, unless a couple have only known each other, ever, then there is a potential for risk.
    Other diseases are important too. Hepatitis C can live for many years, undetected, in the human body. Donors are screened for this. And are the potential recipients asking whether the donors have had a blood transfusion?

    Do you know how the milk has been stored since it was expressed? How long ago was it expressed?

    There is more to milk donation than meets the eye and the above questions are just a few that recipients should really think about.

    So, ensure the safety of the babies receiving the milk, ask questions - lots of questions. Better still, donate to a milk bank and let them ask the questions.

    And a last thought - would you be happy to receive a blood transfusion from a blood donor who has not been screened first?

  31. I have very real concerns about this, and if there is a disaster arising from it one day it may bring the whole milk donation tumbling down around us. Many of us have spent years trying to allay concerns about milk donation by getting it done safely. I don't want to see all that go to waste and then babies in real need deprived of it. Lots of paediatricians are against the whole concept, preferring to give artificial milk, and they are just waiting for an excuse to shut it all down.

  32. Totally agree with the last two comments. AA you have shwn yourself to be rational and questioning this issue- in a healthy way. Many people have worked very very hard for years to get milk banking valued and accepted by the medical establishment and general public. There is still a way to go. Those of us that work hard to educate ourselves and others about the value and importance of breastfeeding and human milk have to apply the same intelligent questioning to all aspects of our work, if we are to be valid.
    -An NHS midwife

  33. I know this is late to get in on this conversation I just wanted to say that as far as milk sharing goes I think it can be a great option as long as precautions are taken on both ends. I've looked into donating and it is extremely prohibitive and they normally don't take milk that has been pumped before screening. On the other hand I didn't opt for milk sharing either because I found quite a few 'women' or 'organizations' urging me to donate to them. These 'people' are buying fronts for a medical company in California that in the simplest terms condenses, fortifies, filters, screens, and pasteurizes breast milk for premies and micro premies. The collectors sell donated breast milk for $3/oz to the company that then processes it and sells it for as much as $1,000/5ml. While I am all about helping tiny babies I think it is horrible that other people are allowed to profit off of the fruit of a woman's labor while it is abhorrent to sell it herself to recover cost of production (ie food, time, etc). I think anything that equals more babies getting breast milk is great. Whether it is woman with sexual trauma pumping and using bm in bottles, a woman with low production getting donations, or exclusive breast feeding. Here is a crazy idea what if we brought back wet nurses? Or perhaps even a human dairy? What would happen if making breast milk became profitable to make? It is usable for everything from it's intended purpose of infant feeding to feeding the very elderly and everyone in between. Bodybuilders covet it and swear by it's restorative properties as well as being an easy high energy source. Cancer patients want it to help battle cancer with its anti-carcinogenic powers. Scientist want it for stem cells, pro biotic bacteria, and amino acids that can't be replicated. If we had an abundance I'm sure other applications would surface. Until then I wouldn't give my breast milk to anyone I did not personally know through at least one meeting that involved meeting their child. I would also insist that they pay for the cost of a screening and shipping. Otherwise you are asking for trouble or to be taken advantage of.