Last week, the Internet was abuzz with news that a California dad, known as ‘Curtis,’ had started a breastmilk-only diet. His wife, ‘Katie,’ had lots of extra frozen breastmilk and had been unable to find a donor who was interested in it. That is when ‘Curtis,’ a† 6’4″ and 185 pound man decided to see if he could live on breastmilk alone. The family was documenting his journey on a blog called Don’t Have a Cow, which they took down several days into the experiment after becoming overwhelmed by negative comments.
Some of the comments on their blog were from people who were upset that they hadn’t donated the milk to a family in need. Katie and Curtis did look into donating and weren’t able to find someone to take the milk. However, they may not have been aware of the extensive informal breastmilk sharing networks that have been developed recently. After taking the blog down, ‘Katie’ used the information provided in several of the comments to reach out to Montreal, Canada resident Emma Kwasnica, the founder of the Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) global milk sharing network.
Making a Milk Match
Kwasnica was thrilled when ‘Katie’ reached out to her. It just so happened that she had recently learned about a mother in California who was looking for breastmilk for her quadruplets. From the other side of the continent, Kwasnica was able to connect the two California mothers — one with extra breastmilk and one in need of that milk.† Kwasnica told the Toronto Star: “It just worked out beautifully, serendipitously, that Katie has so much milk and (the other mother) needs so much.”
The mother of the quadruplets, known as ‘Fiona’ told the Toronto Star that she is unable to produce enough milk to feed her two baby boys and two baby girls and that she needs an additional 420 ounces of breastmilk per week. One of the babies cannot tolerate formula at all due to a digestive disorder and ‘Fiona’ prefers to have all four babies fed exclusively with breastmilk because of the benefits that it provides.
Breastmilk is Not A Scare Commodity
The business model and profitability of infant formula companies depends primarily on two myths. The first myth is that infant formula is safer than informal breastmilk sharing. Proponents of milk sharing note that the risks of infant formula are always present, while the risks of informal milk sharing can be mitigated by taking appropriate precautions. The second myth is that breastmilk is a scarce commodity.
While some mothers are unable to make enough breastmilk for their infants, either for physical reasons or because their milk supply was compromised by bad breastfeeding advice, other mothers have more milk than they need for their own babies. What has been lacking, however, are good distribution channels for breastmilk.
Breast milk is not a scarce commodity, itís a free-flowing resource. With the advance of social media, women who are willing to share their breastmilk can now easily connect with families who need milk for their children. We at HM4HB are thrilled to see women and families asserting their autonomy to do what is healthy, normal and ecological. Families are making informed choices to share breastmilk and babies everywhere are thriving as a result.
To raise awareness about informal milksharing as an option, September 23 to 30th has been designated as the inaugural annual World Milk Sharing Week.† There are numerous events happening this week all over the world and online to celebrate. The amazing match between ‘Katie’ and ‘Fiona’ that resulted in thousands of ounces of breastmilk changing hands is just icing on the cake for this week’s celebration.
Photo credit: Daquella Manera on flickr
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