Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Eats on Feets is Meals on Wheels for Little Babies in Need of Mama Milk

When pointing out the danger of feeding infants a formula substitute, valid and urgent questions often surface: "What about when a mama really cannot nurse her infant? What about an infant who cannot drink from the breast?"

We all know that life is not an easy road. And for some mamas and babies, the hard road is breastfeeding. First, there are some actual medical conditions that make it difficult to nurse or to produce milk. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Insufficient Glandular Tissue (IGT) and Hypoplastic Tubular Breasts (HTB) can all interfere with lactation. 

Other issues include thyroid disease, hormonal imbalances, retained placenta or severe hemorrhaging, etc. Infants can also experience difficulty latching on due to various issues such as ankyloglossia and a disorganized latch. Perhaps the most avoidable complication is infant circumcision which can traumatize the infant so badly that it disrupts the nursing relationship. 

I want to stress that none of these automatically mean the mama will never be able to nurse. Working with an informed lactation consultant or skilled doctor first can ensure every option is explored.

But the bottomline is that some mamas and babies cannot nurse. So what then? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has created a set of guidelines for situations where nursing is not possible:
This chart shows that the next appropriate choice for infants who cannot latch onto the breast and nurse is expressed milk from the mother. If milk production is an issue and galactogogues do not help, the next options are human milk from a donor. 

Whether the milk is from the mother, from other mothers, pasteurized, term or not, the benefits of bonding, palate development from suckling, comfort nursing and antibody stimulation can all be continued with the use of a Lactaid which is a feeding device that connects to the breast so that the child is fed while latched on to the breast. 

Wetnursing and donor milk have been accepted practices in other areas and previous generations. But the propagation of myths about the quality of human milk, the practice of nursing and the dangers of formula in the mid-1900s caused us to forget about these invaluable and healthy practices. (You can read a brief summary of how this change came about here and here).

Until now. Today's mothers have a resource right at their fingertips. Check out "Eats On Feets" for local, immediate assistance! 

World's Largest Breast Milk Sharing Network Spreads Across Facebook: "Eats On Feets" Goes Global

Within a matter of days, women around the world have mobilized on the social networking site Facebook to organize an international, woman-to-woman milk sharing network. Human milk is for human babies, and formula-feeding is associated with risks to both the mother and infant. Women today are aware of this fact and are taking their life-sustaining power back into their own hands --they are now converging on Facebook to freely share their breastmilk with one another.

Montreal, Canada, November 7, 2010 - The announcement last month from internet health guru, Dr. Joseph Mercola, of his plans to launch his own brand of powdered infant formula onto the US market, has spawned the Eats On Feets GLOBAL breastmilk sharing network. In retaliation against yet another needless and harmful artificial breastmilk substitute to hit the market, mothers on Facebook from around the world have come together to take a stand for infant health. They have now established the world's largest human milk sharing network, an initiative spearheaded by Canadian lactating mother and passionate breastfeeding activist, Emma Kwasnica.

The "Eats On Feets" name is the brainchild of Phoenix, AZ midwife, Shell Walker. A mother to young children in the '90s, Walker and her friends had this thought: "Hey, why don't we just become wet-nurses? Instead of 'Meals on Wheels', we can call our business 'Eats On Feets'." Walker took this idea and made it a reality in July, 2010, when she created a Facebook profile page under the same name, and began a free, community-based breastmilk sharing network for mothers in Phoenix. She has since been successful at matching up local women who have an excess, or are in need of, human breastmilk.

Meanwhile, Kwasnica has also been using her personal profile page and her large network of international birth and breastfeeding activists on Facebook, in order to match up human milk donors and recipients around the world. One such story involves a fellow Canadian friend, living in Bandung, Indonesia; the school teacher and single father to a newborn son wondered if he could source human milk for his baby instead of feeding his son a powdered breastmilk substitute. Aware of his situation, Kwasnica put the call out to her vast network via a simple status update on Facebook, and a breastfeeding peer counselor in a neighbouring city in Indonesia responded. A string of lactating women on the ground was assembled to provide human milk locally for the infant boy. Now three months old, this baby has never tasted anything other than human milk.

The announcement of Dr. Mercola's plans to market formula was the final catalyst that spurred Emma Kwasnica on to convene with Shell Walker and launch Eats On Feets GLOBAL. Regarding the inception of this initiative, she states: "Shell Walker is a friend and the midwife in Phoenix, AZ who came up with the name 'Eats On Feets'. She graciously allowed me to use her catchy name in order to launch the global initiative: a woman-to-woman, grassroots milk sharing network here on Facebook. As for Dr. Mercola, he should be injecting his burgeoning wealth into breastfeeding support, not trying to make more money off a product that is harmful to infants and their lifelong health."

With the help of nearly 200 women online from the global mothering Facebook community, the initiative has taken off. Donor and recipient milk matches are being made right now all over the world on the pages of Facebook. There are now 87 Eats On Feets chapter pages spanning 18 countries (a quick Facebook search for "Eats On Feets" yields dozens of results). This movement is proof that Facebook can, indeed, be used for the good of humanity. By encouraging the biologically normal way of feeding babies, and reviving an age-old practice of human milk sharing, it is clear that social networking has the power to revolutionize infant health.


  1. This is completely fascinating, I loved reading it! It's so exciting to actually be able to FIND this information! I'm looking forward to learning more.

  2. Im so glad that somebody had steped up to make this happen. When I had a preemie baby in 2008 and looked into milk banks in BC when I ran out of milk, I was told my preemie was not sick enough to need breastmilk! (are you kidding me!) PS a child does not need to be sick to deserve to get human milk. ANYWAYS I am now pregnant again and intend on Breastfeeding my child as long as they want and I cant wait to donate to any moms out there who need milk for their babies! EATS ON FEETS IS AMAZING.
    thanks for the great info Guggie!