Sunday, November 13th 2011

Profiting off of Breastmilk

In response to the many stories about how unsafe 'informal' breastmilk sharing is and how people should use 'formal' milk banks.

Community based milk sharing is an affordable, viable and important option that should be protected and furthered, not stymied.

Eats On Feets facilitates a world-wide network of parents and professionals who have made the informed choice to share or support the sharing of breastmilk. Eats On Feets was the first network on Facebook to do so and has a history of rigorous dedication to the furthering of milk sharing information.

Scare tactics and shocking stories of milk-selling and milk-sharing are frequently used to dissuade the public from participating in milk-sharing activities outside of the milk-banking system. But these tales do not tell the whole story.

Milk banks are called BANKS for more than one reason. Milk selling is a money making business whether on the streets, in the labs or in the milk bank office. It is more than curious that the very institutions who warn against the informal selling of breast milk and/or the free sharing of it, are the very ones who sell the most of it.

Eats On Feets does not allow the selling of breastmilk on its pages. It does support a safe, free and truly altruistic form of milk sharing that can be as safe as the milk bank process, and has an even greater amount of regulation possible in order to meet the specific needs of individual donors and recipients.

This can be accomplished by following The 4 Pillars of Safe Breastmilk Sharing and by referring to the Eats On Feets Resource Guide. Our document has been reviewed by three former milk bank employees, two physicians and countless IBLC Lactation Consultants and is cited as a sound resource for milk sharing by many. Were any deficiencies to be noted, we would take them seriously and update as/if needed.

While community based milk sharing is misleadingly accused of lacking any safety nets what-so-ever, there are also considerations regarding (U.S) milk banks that have not been addressed:

Yet somehow milk banks are regarded as the supreme keepers of knowledge regarding milk sharing and the feeding of babies. If they know something about milk sharing that would contribute to its safety for babies, if they have information that the milk sharing public does not already know or does not have access to through organizations such as Eats On Feets, then we insist that they are morally obligated to share that information. If not with us, then with the World Health Organization. Immediately!

Until the (U.S) Milk Bank Associations step up and truly show an interest in meeting the needs of their communities, there will remain a need for community based milk sharing and Eats On Feets will continue to do her part to contribute to its safety through research, educational materials and advocacy. I am thankful that milk banks have helped so many babies but there is still much work to do.


Shell Walker

The 4 pillars to support the safe sharing of breastmilk

Informed Choice - Mothers are responsible for understanding the options, including the risks and benefits, of all infant and child feeding methods.

Donor Screening - Mothers can communicate with donors by asking questions about their health and lifestyle, and by requesting blood screening test results.

Safe Handling - Mothers and donors should handle milk with clean hands and equipment and use proper storage methods.

Home pasteurization - If in doubt, mothers can pasteurize milk at home; on the stovetop in order to inactivate HIV or using a single bottle pasteurizer that performs the Holder method of pasteurization