Milk-sharing is a tradition as old as time.
Human milk banks provide pasteurized donor human milk for the most vulnerable infants but other families seek milk from lactating people in their communities: relatives, friends, acquaintances and strangers who have surplus milk to share.
Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises against feeding human milk acquired directly from individuals or through the internet, the World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t discriminate between informal milk sharing and using pasteurized donor human milk when mother’s own milk is not available and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) has a position statement on the topic, recognizing informal milk sharing as an increasingly common practice with potential health benefits for healthy infants.
Inconsistent guidance, internet myths and lack of familiarity on the topic leads some families to believe the only feeding options they have are either their own milk or a breastmilk substitute. And lactating individuals with milk to spare aren’t often aware of how to share their milk outside of formal donation programs.
The California Breastfeeding Coalition is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, Dec. 6, to provide families with the opportunity to learn more about the experience of giving and receiving milk from within their communities or connected networks.
Community Milk Sharing: What You Need to Know About Giving and Receiving Liquid Gold will take place from noon to 1:30 p.m. Moderated by Brandi Gates-Burgess of Breast Friends Lactation Support Services, the event will provide historical information on the tradition of community milk sharing, wet nursing, and Black history and breastfeeding.
A lactation consultant at Highland Hospital, Gates-Burgess serves on the Community Advisory Board of the UCSF Preterm Birth Initiative, and co-chairs The Breastfeeding Cultural Outreach Taskforce (BCOT). She also has personal experience with community milk sharing.
“Families have several reasons for participating in milk sharing,” Gates-Burgess said. “But what’s most important is for those who are curious about this beautiful experience to get accurate information that is current and relevant.”
The webinar will feature a panel of milk donors and grateful milk recipients sharing their personal experiences. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions at the end. All registered attendees will get access to the recording as well.
You can share this event with others in the following ways:
This family-focused webinar follows the workshop for providers on the same topic hosted by the CBC this past summer. Click here to register for the recording of that session.