Two years ago I would have thought this a crazy & weird topic. However, six and a half months ago, Jacoby Ray Nelson came into my life and changed what I thought I knew about nutrition, health, and life.
Breastfeeding in the beginning was hard. It hurt. It hurt in more ways than one. First, you have never used that part of your body in such a way before. Second, you have to figure out latching. Third, I got mastitis. Really, really bad mastitis. I couldn’t get more than sputters out of my right side. I was devastated I might not be able to breastfeed. This led to exclusive pumping for a few months. This in turn led to recurrent plugged milk ducts, which in turn led back to exclusive breastfeeding (I also missed the cuddles after I went back to work).
I agonized over deciding to try it out. What if I lost my supply tomorrow? I want my freezer stash for my own kiddo. However, my pastor’s message one day spoke to me. It was about grace and unconditional love. It was also about loving strangers, non-Christians as well as acting like a Christian through unconditional love. Basically, giving and loving with no expectation of return.
Before I go further, I’m copying and pasting the mission statement behind HM4HB from their Facebook page.
HM4HB does not question the reasons why families seek breastmilk, and we don’t prioritize requests and/or offers. We hope that all babies and children in need receive human milk, regardless of age, health, or personal circumstance.
We respect the right of families to make informed choices, and we expect our members to take full responsibility for those choices. It is up to the participants to get to know each other, to ask questions, and to continue talking and engaging directly with one another until a relationship of trust is established.
We operate on the basis of informed choice, a choice made by competent individuals, free from coercion, that takes into account sufficient information to make a decision. We also honour the role that an individual’s intuition plays in the process of making informed choices. If at any time a recipient does not feel comfortable with their donor, or vice versa, you are under no obligation to participate in milk sharing with that person, and are welcome to repost on our pages at any time to find a more suitable arrangement.
To honour the informed choice and personal responsibility of our members, so that recipients may choose and/or screen their own donors, and so that donors may choose and/or screen their own recipients, we ask that milksharing on these pages be for your own personal use as a donor or recipient.
If a family member, health care provider, or personal family friend is authorized to collect milk on your behalf, they should be prepared to include your explicit consent in the post, or you may kindly stop by to confirm their proxy.
Any other third party participant in your milksharing arrangement who organizes matches on your behalf (with or without compensation), is in conflict with the above stated Mission, Vision, and Values of HM4HB. In the spirit of informed choice, we do not support the use of our community pages as a place for go-betweens in milksharing arrangements.”
For more information:
For me, I wanted to be able to keep my massive freezer stash, “in case”. I ended up finding a mom who still breastfeeds her kiddo, but doesn’t pump enough while she’s away at work. Since extra lipase can be an issue, I have given out fresh, unfrozen milkies at the end of the week. I also wanted to disclose my health & nutritional status as well as any concerns I had. For example, no medical conditions, no drugs (prescription or otherwise), and I felt as though I ate healthier than the average American although doing so often results in gas-inducing milkies!
For fun: my husband told me we didn’t have much more room in our freezer. However, when he found out I was milk sharing, he was concerned I might be inviting a serial killer into our home, and he lingered down the block to make sure it was a mom with a babe coming to pick up milkies the first time!
Meanwhile, my recipient said her husband was concerned that people would use milk donation as a way to harm babies! The first exchange was awkward, but we broke the ice with that.
I don’t think, “Oh, weird” anymore, that someone else’s kid is drinking something that came from my boob. I now think milk sharing is a beautiful thing even though I’m only getting into it. Instead, I think, someone’s kiddo doesn’t have to drink formula, with over 50 ingredients, from a cow’s boob and pumped full of hormones. I think: my child has never been sick. This is free milk that I have anyway (most recipients help supply bags). I think, unconditional love! If I reach a year of breastfeeding, I plan on shipping out large quantities of my freezer stash. However, in the mean time, I’ll donate my extra fresh milkies, because that’s what works for me and for the recipient, and that’s what HM4HB does, it allows you to do what works for you!
Disclaimer: I’m not perpetuating any mommy war. I respect everyone’s lifestyle choice. I dutifully mail my formula coupons to a mama in need. I understand milk sharing isn’t for everyone, but if you think it could be, look into your local chapter or ask me a question!