Thursday, May 30, 2013

Every Baby Deserves Milk

Over and over again I hear something in the milk sharing community that might come from a well-intended place but only makes it harder to normalize milk sharing and wet nursing. It's a declaration that a mama and her baby have to be qualified to receive milk. The motivation of the mama and the situation of her baby are scrutinized, judged on a basis of severity as to whether or not she deserves to receive milk to feed her baby.

I'm so fired up right now, I feel that after this baby arrives, I'm going to pump like crazy and donate milk for all those judged scenarios. You're too tired out to pump? Here! Have some milk. You're going on an unexpected business trip? Here! Milk for your baby. You don't want to or can't take drugs to get your supply up? Milk!

You have an unexpected pregnancy? I'll give YOU double milk for that. I'm tired of hearing people discuss unexpected pregnancy as if the condom never fails or the birth control always works. What a great flag of support to tell a mama working hard to provide for her child that she has to deprive one or both. Aren't we just a cheery card of well wishes during a hard time!

You don't want to share your private reason? Perhaps it's related to sexual abuse in your past that makes breastfeeding difficult or impossible? Perhaps you've had cancer-related surgery and keep it private? Have some milk, Mama. You look able bodied and normal, but suffer from a laundry list of conditions that people judge and misunderstand such as IGT, fibromyalgia, EDS, PCOS and more? There's milk for your baby, Mama.

Who a mama chooses to donate to and why is her business. Milk is not a precious resource for others to judge which baby is worthy or which baby is undeserving. The cattiness I am hearing in the milksharing world is detrimental to the movement and harmful to mamas and babies out there.

As long as people continue to act as if milksharing is an elite, privileged and rare resource judged only for the most worthy scenarios, we will never normalize milksharing. Milksharing is as normal and good for the severe preemie as it is for the mama who is feeling sick and could use a backup for a nursing session.

We need to make milksharing so normalized that it's akin to running next door to ask for an egg so you can finish your recipe. You aren't forced to wait until you're starving to be approved for your special "handout." It's normal, basic and carefree...and that's how breastfeeding in general should feel, too.

Where is our tribe? Where is our community spirit? I have heard of mamas having severe reactions to galactagogues, prescribed and herbal. I also know mamas who have a diagnosed condition and just don't have the mental/emotional strength to "try everything" when they already know of their impairment and just need to feed their baby.

How about after birth? Post-partum is a whirlwind of a time, not even including things such as healing from unexpected injuries, having to go back to work, missing a support team to help, depression/anxiety and more.

I fail to see why milk should be held over a mama's head until she "adequately performs" to be awarded. If I'm willing to bring over a meal, why not bring over milk? What is the difference? I don't see people saying things like, "Oh, Susie had a great homebirth so she can cook. She doesn't need meals." or "I only give meals to mamas after c-sections because they deserve it."

Stop the madness! Every child deserves milk and every mama could use a little community now and then. When we start to believe this, the milk will start to flow freely.

It was very telling that when I shared a cute photo of my nephew
having some milk, many people were anxious and assumed something
was wrong with my sister and/or her baby. Nope, I was just comforting him while
she and my brother in law celebrated their anniversary with a romantic dinner.


  1. Love it! Well written and speaks to the heart of the matter.

  2. It's so amazing to me that the milk sharing movement is evolving so quickly into something so feminist and generous and wonderful. Great post!

  3. It's so exciting to see this movement become something so feminist and generous and wonderful! great post!

  4. Yes! Yes! Yes! I see this all the time. I think some of it is purposeful and some is an unconscious attitude. I'm always bemused when I see a situation where a bfing mother passes away and the family decides to seek out donor milk. Within days hundreds of women have come out of the woodwork to help that baby. Don't get me wrong, I'm not begrudging the baby that milk - I'm thrilled, but it does beg the question why didn't any of these women come forward for other babies? Yes, that baby has no option to nurse - it's donor milk or formula - but many others are in that same situation. Babies born to double mastectomy moms, babies adopted by gay parents, etc. Why do women not come out in droves for them. And why must we insist on the strictest interpretation of "no other option?" For example, do we really need to insist that all adoptive moms first try and relactate. I've donated to multiple women so I know the hard work and time that go into pumping & storing, but we donors need to stop acting like we did something "right" to get all that extra milk and start realizing that we're just damn lucky and to share our good fortune freely.

  5. I am always hapoy to share my first experience with milk sharing. It happened because my baby's father wanted to take me to a concert. My baby was 5 months old, had never been away from me for even a minute so I was really torn. A dear friend offered to care for him and when we pondered how to feed him and how to express and what kind of bottles and nipples to get (that was 1991 and I still dont know much about those things), we became overwhelmied and she said =%\ it, I'll just breastfeed him. That moment changed our lives and from it was born Eats On Feets and other spinoff milk sharing networks|groups. I was a young, 22yo mama who needed a night out and who didnt know anything about formula or bottle feeding- except to avoid them. If she hadnt offered I wouldn't have gone out that night and I wouldn't have started researching milk sharing the very next day. (In case anyone is interested- it was YES, May 1991, Phoenix, AZ. ~Shell~