feeding babies through the ages

We’ve always talked about how sharing breastmilk is not a new thing. We can only imagine that breastmilk’s been shared from the first time a baby needed it to be. And guess what? Neither is using yet other alternatives to breastfeeding your baby yourself. Because although breast is ‘best’, it’s not always available or possible, and we mamas and papas will find a way to feed our babies… nevermind how!

‘Before she went on maternity leave, a British politician called for a detente in the culture wars surrounding breastfeeding. Breast is best, as the saying goes, but it has never been the only option – terracotta pots, donkey’s milk and soaked bread have played their part in a varied history.’

-from a January 7, 2014 piece on the BBC news magazine site entitled, ‘Breastfeeding: Was there ever a golden age?’

Will you go have a read and let me know what you think?

I found this whole piece fascinating because I honestly had no idea why formula came to be created. I mean, not in a real way. I had a vague sense that there must have been a need for it somewhere at some point, and I’m certainly familiar with the old idea that because it was man made in a lab it was somehow cleaner or more scientific and therefore more nutritious- utter nonsense of course, but really coming from the right place, I think- a desire to give our babies the absolute best.

It was also interesting to note how (look at those baby feeders!) and what people have fed their babies throughout history- everything from the milk of other animals- which makes total sense to me since the babies of those animals are drinking it and thriving on it… but alcohol? That makes a lot less sense to me although to be fair, I’ve definitely had moments where I’ve thought I could understand why they might have done that! A moment’s peace – every parent’s dream! 😀 Ha!

And of course if I have to work in a factory, and leave my baby at home, where I can’t breastfeed her and my sister can’t breastfeed her either for whatever reason, then I would rather she be fed formula than some gruel or bread soaked in whiskey and honey! I’ll keep the second one for myself, thank you very much! So, I’m grateful it’s available for when breastmilk is not.


Intentions for the blog, going forward…

There’s a lot to talk about with regards to breastmilk, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, breastmilk sharing, formula, home made formulas etc etc…

And we want to get into the discussions about it all. So, this is a little headsup to say that topics around here are going to be a little more varied.

We hope you’ll be interested in what we share and that you’ll say your piece too. We love hearing back from you- whether you’re actively breastmilk sharing or breastfeeding or not. If you’re reading this, let us know what you’re interested in and what you think.

If you’d like to write a guest post or be interviewed for the blog, please send us a note via the contact page above!

Thanks for reading and thank you so much for supporting our efforts to connect families who want to share the bounty that is breastmilk!!

Posting a need or offer anonymously

Hi everyone!

If, for whatever reason, you’d rather not post your offer or need to our facebook page, we’re happy to do it on your behalf. It works best if you post yourself because you get notifications etc from facebook directly but we understand that some folks just aren’t comfortable with that. And that’s cool.

Here’s the info we need from you in order to make a post on your behalf:


What’s your name?
How much milk are you donating?
When was the milk pumped/frozen?
How old was your baby when the milk was pumped/frozen?
Where you ill or on medication when the milk was pumped?
Would this be a onetime or regular donation?
Where are you? Town/area you live in and maybe town you work in? (So folks know where they’d likely be picking up from- e.g. live in Inner Sunset in SF and work in downtown Oakland)
Anything else you’d like to say to potential recipients.

We do have a form we recommend recipients use to screen donors, which asks donors to volunteer information about their health. Might be helpful for you to preemptively answer/disclose any relevant info in that vein.


What’s your name?
How old is your baby?
How much milk do you need?
Do you need a onetime donation or a regular donor?
Any special circumstances or details we should know about? (e.g. newborn or baby allergic to formula)
Where are you? Town/area you live in and maybe town you work in? (So folks know where they’d likely be picking up from- e.g. live in Inner Sunset in SF and work in downtown Oakland)
How far are you willing to drive to pickup a donation?
Anything else you’d like to say to potential donors?.

We do recommend that you health screen potential donors and we created this form that you can download and either use as is or base your own screening questions on.

Hope this helps! You can send the details to us via private message on our facebook page or via email.

Beth Rago, CLC – new site up!

Hello everyone. You may have noticed that co-founder Beth’s new site is up at our old url: http://www.bayareabreastmilk.com! Please have a look and let her know what you think.

Also, if you or someone you know might be interested in a Homebirth Breastfeeding class on Dec 1st from 1-3, please register asap! Sometimes, with the focus on the miracle of pregnancy, it can be easy to overlook what happens after the birth and how much breastfeeding is affected by all of it. Taking a class with Beth will prepare you to approach breastfeeding with an open but assured mind, knowing you have options and a great guide to consult in the event of any struggles. What a difference knowing someone has your back makes!

Breastfeeding mamas

Just found this awesome gallery of generously sized mamas breastfeeding their babies. As a generously sized mama myself, it’s nice to see babies enjoying their mamas massive mammaries (as I call my own) and those lovely squishy bellies. (just my thoughts, only love intended – ajira)


Also has awesome list of resource links for breastfeeding blogs and info sites. I think I’ll add this amazing resource list to ours, for easier access from here.


More hospitals storing and sharing breastmilk

Everytime I come across a story in the media about breastmilk sharing, I get super excited. In fact, I’m such a nerd about it that I’ve got google alerts set up so I don’t miss one! 😀 I want to be informed about where and how it’s happening but also I want to keep an eye on how it’s being represented.

Saw this story while surfing the interwebs and was pleased to see a story lauding the benefits of donor milk and highlighting hospitals that getting licensed to and storing donated breastmilk to give to at-risk newborns as well as babies who are unable to breastfeed from their mothers.

Read the rest of the story here and let me know what you think.

20th Annual World Breastfeeding Week

Lots of great info and a worthwhile pledge on the World Breastfeeding Week site. Please go and have a poke around. What a great cause to support, am I right?

For me, the most important aspect about World Breastfeeding Week is the opportunity for families to connect and get informed about their options. Share your experience, be open to learning from the experiences of others. We are all doing the very best we can for ourselves, our babies and our families. So important to have support and an open dialogue and not get into judgement about what’s best.

I was inspired to read the World Breastfeeding Week 2012 objectives:

WBW 2012 Objectives

1. To recall what has happened in the past 20 years on infant and young child feeding (IYCF).

2. To celebrate successes and achievements nationally, regionally and globally and showcase national work at global level.

3. To assess the status of implementation of the Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding (GS).

4. To call for action to bridge the remaining gaps in policy and programmes on breastfeeding and IYCF.

5. To draw public attention on the state of policy and programmes on breastfeeding and IYCF.

So, this week (August 1 – 7) how will you be celebrating breastfeeding?

World Breastfeeding Week 2012!

So, World Breastfeeding Week begins tomorrow, August 1st. I’m hoping to continue sharing anything of interest here, throughout the week. Would love to hear from you if you have any info you think other families might find interesting- particularly as related to breastmilk sharing. I’m always curious to hear what others are coming across about this topic. It doesn’t seem to get talked about much, at least not in the public sphere.

Anyway, in case you’re wondering what all this brouhaha is about, read a broad overview of the history of this week here and see the Innocenti Declaration which prompted this whole week here. Can you believe it was written in 1990?

If there’s interest, we’d love to get together with you at the end of the week, or over the weekend… just to connect with other families that are donating or receiving breastmilk. Let us know in the comments below or via email. If we have something, we’ll announce it here as well as our other media channels. Ha!


What the FDA & WHO have to say about breastfeeding and breastmilk sharing.

I often talk about FDA and WHO recomendations about breastmilk and breastmilk sharing and thought it might be helpful to share where you can see them for yourselves.

The FDA seems essentially supportive but way more concerned with informing you of the inherent risks and suggesting pasteurized donor milk might be best-

Consider the possible safety risks

If you are considering feeding a baby with human milk from a source other than the baby’s mother, you should know that there are possible health and safety risks for the baby.  Risks for the baby include exposure to infectious diseases, including HIV, to chemical contaminants, such as some illegal drugs, and to a limited number of prescription drugs that might be in the human milk, if the donor has not been adequately screened.  In addition, if human milk is not handled and stored properly, it could, like any type of milk, become contaminated and unsafe to drink.

Read the rest here.

Meanwhile, WHO is super clear about how they feel about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is the best way to provide newborns with the nutrients they need. WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old, and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.

They’re a little less clear (on their website at least) on how they feel about breastmilk sharing but, according to this 2007 study on ‘formula vs donor breastmilk for premature or low birth weight infants’ it’s pretty clear that breastmilk is what babies are meant to eat. If they have no access to their mother’s breastmilk, the next best nourishment is donor breastmilk and if that is not available, then formula is acceptable nourishment.

I was surprised at the main results of the study:

Eight trials fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Only one trial used nutrient-fortified donor breast milk. Enteral feeding with formula milk compared with donor breast milk resulted in higher rates of growth in the short term. There was no evidence of an effect on long-term growth rates or neurodevelopmental outcomes. Meta-analysis of data from five trials demonstrated a statistically significantly higher incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in the formula fed group: typical relative risk 2.5 (95% confidence interval 1.2, 5.1); typical risk difference: 0.03 (95% confidence interval 0.01, 0.06; number needed to harm: 33 (95% confidence interval 17, 100).

Then I reminded myself that no evidence in this trial doesn’t mean there is no effect, and that the ‘statistically significantly higher incidence of necrotising enterocolitis in the formula fed group’ is sufficient data to support WHO’s recommendation of breastfeed from birth mother first, donor milk second and formula third.

And I still completely support each family’s choice about what they feed their baby and why. I want you to make an informed decision about what is best for you and yours. And I want to be sure that breastmilk, if you want it, is accessible to you.

Hope that helps. And as always, I invite you to share any pertinent links on this subject in the comments below.