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!!

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.


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.

Please donate breastmilk

If you’re uncomfortable donating breastmilk directly to a recipient, please consider donating to a milk bank like the Mothers’ Milk Bank in San Jose. According to their website, they have been-

a licensed tissue bank that has been providing milk banking services for over 30 years. Since 1974, over 4000 donors have provided over 1.5 million ounces to help babies survice and thrive.

They are a non-profit milk bank but do charge a $3 per ounce processing fee to recipients. (And herein lies our biggest issue with milk banks since $3 per ounce for a growing baby adds up quickly to become unaffordable for many families.) Most insurance companies will cover the cost of banked milk if it is deemed medically necessary- so definitely worth a discussion with your physician and your provider.

One consideration about milk banks is that they do screen and pasteurize the breastmilk donations. They have stringent donor screening, including blood tests, and therefore this may be preferable for an at-risk baby.

Either way, please consider donating breastmilk that your baby doesn’t need. Another baby would certainly be better off with it, whether you donate it directly to another baby or to a milk bank.

Cancer didn’t stop this mama from giving her baby breastmilk – It’s Cancer, Baby episode 4

I hadn’t heard of this mini-documentary webseries before coming across this piece on Cafe Mom‘s – The Stir.

Joanna is a new mom who is also battling cancer, and realises that she won’t be able to breastfeed for very long due to the drugs she has to take for chemotherapy. So she finds a donor who enables Joanna’s baby to continue receiving breastmilk for the first three months of her life. More in the video below.


Watching this made me so grateful to be a part of this amazing community where there’s a space for families to ask for or offer breastmilk donations. We’re doing a good thing here, people. Thanks for being in this with us.

Ever wondered what was in breastmilk?

I am always surprised to discover that there hasn’t been done all that much research into breastmilk, it’s components and the impact it has on health. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of information out there and I’m grateful for it. But there isn’t as much as I’d expect, particularly considering how vital it is for the health of both babies and their mothers.

Anyway, good news! I recently read an amazing piece on NativeMothering.com which goes into much detail about the known components of breastmilk and the roles of said components. Amazing read. I was particularly intrigued by the presence and function of non-nutritive elements which essentially support the newborn’s health and boost their immature immune systems.

Please click over there and have a read… we’d love to know what you think and please share links to any other fascinating pieces you’ve seen around the interwebs about the glory of what breastmilk is made of.


p.s. please follow us on facebook and/or twitter to hear about the most recent requests for or offers of breastmilk. Thanks!