Thoughts from a broken mind
by: Jonathan Benson
There is a great need among many mothers for breast milk for their newborn babies, and one of the ways this need is being met is through Facebook groups dedicated to buying, selling, or simply trading breast milk. Though the practice is receiving considerable scorn from the medical establishment, many mothers are safely using breast milk from other women without issue, which is far better than having to resort to feeding their babies powdered infant formulas.
Though it is one of the most basic biological functions for a mother, producing adequate amounts of breast milk can be difficult for some women, which means other options must be explored. And because state-sanctioned milk banks are often quite expensive — a single ounce of pasteurized breast milk typically costs around $6 — and cater specifically to mothers of sick children, the only other option for mothers of otherwise healthy infants is to obtain powdered infant formula.
At least this was the case before milk sharing began growing in popularity, particularly through online user groups where mothers who produce more milk than they can use, sell it or even donate it to other mothers who do not produce enough for their babies. As mothers in need are able to meet and correspond with mothers in excess, intimate relationships are often formed and the healthy exchange of milk is able to take place.
“Our discrete breastfeeding breast milk classified system makes it possible to sell or buy breast milk in a clean, private way,” says the website Only the Breast, which operates as a Craigslist-type mediator for breast milk trading, except with a membership process to help ensure the safety and integrity of the program. (http://www.onlythebreast.com/)
Other groups, such as Eats on Feets, operate more locally, pairing up mothers in need with other mothers in their local area or region. This particular group, which prohibits the sale of breast milk and allows only donations, describes itself as a “worldwide network for those who have made the informed choice to share breast milk,” and currently operates 122 unique Facebook chapters all around the world. (http://www.eatsonfeets.org)
Of particular concern for many women accessing breast milk is that typical milk bank varieties are pasteurized, which denatures and destroys probiotic bacteria, enzymes, and other important nutrients that impart immunity to young babies. And contrary to popular belief, breast milk from milk banks is not necessarily tested for non-pathogenic contaminates such as alcohol and tobacco, and is often assessed solely on questionnaires.
“Scare tactics and shocking stories of milk-selling and milk-sharing are frequently used to dissuade the public from participating in milk-sharing activities outside of the milk-banking system,” adds Eats on Feets, which recognizes the value of raw breast milk. “Milk selling is a money making business whether on the streets, in the labs or in the milk bank office. It is more than curious that the very institutions who warn against the informal selling of breast milk and/or the free sharing of it are the very ones who sell the most of it.”
Sources for this article include:
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