Years ago, if a woman couldn’t breastfeed, she had no other option except to hire a wet nurse. A wet nurse is a woman who is already lactating that takes on the feeding of another child. Obviously, this cultural norm has faded away with the invention of bottles, breast pumps and formula.
However, the idea of feeding another woman’s breast milk to your child is making a huge comeback
The reason for this is that breast milk contains all the proteins, fats, vitamins and liquids that a baby needs. In an ideal world, breastfeeding would work for everybody- and it would be easy! Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world and many women have a hard time breastfeeding. On the flip side, many women have far more breast milk than their babies can consume.
And that is where this guide comes in…
For women who are unable to breastfeed, but would still like to give their baby breast milk, here are several options:
- Milk Bank A milk bank screens and pasteurizes all donated milk, so it provides a safe way to obtain milk. Unfortunately, obtaining milk from a milk bank can mean paying up to $4/oz.
- Only the Breast This website is a buy/sell site strictly for breast milk. Women who have an oversupply can post an ad and women who need breast milk can respond and buy the breast milk.
- Eats on Feets This is a website run primarily through Facebook where a mother can post a need and another local woman can donate to you. Meetings are arranged by individuals. Most of the Facebook pages are organized by state.
- Human Milk for Human Babies. This website also runs primarily through Facebook and is a place where a mother can post her need and have it met by a local mom.
Please keep these things in mind if you are accepting donated breast milk:
- Ask questions about lifestyle and medication and use common sense when accepting breast milk from a person that you do not know. Always meet in a safe, public place to exchange.
- Don’t forget to say thank you! When someone has donated hundreds of ounces of their breast milk, it’s important to say thank you. This saves money and is a huge nutritional boost to a child.
- Breast milk donating etiquette is that you recoup the cost of the milk storage bags. You can do this in several ways: by buying the bags and handing them over during the breast milk exchange, or buy online and shipping directly to the person. Ask what type of pump they use and offer to buy their preference of bags.
For women who have stocked their freezer full of breast milk and are looking to help out another Mom, here are several options:
- Donating to a milk bank. The screening process can be rather intense, but the milk bank covers all costs and even takes care of shipping. The breast milk is most likely taken to hospitals and given to premature babies or medically fragile infants, so it truly is used in a fabulous way.
- Eats on Feets. This Facebook-based site arranges for local mothers to post about their excess breast milk and donate to another local mother. Meetings are done on a personal/local basis.
- Human Milk 4 Human Babies. This Facebook-based site arranges for local mothers to post about their excess breast milk and donate to another local mother. Meetings are done on a personal/local basis.
Please keep these things in mind if you are donating breast milk:
- Meet in a safe, public place. Use common sense when giving your milk to someone.
- Label all milk bags with the date and time the milk was pumped. This helps the receiver to know which bags to use first
- Be upfront about any dietary habits or any medication you have taken while pumping breast milk. What doesn’t bother your own child might affect another child in a different way.
There is also a new, recent trend in which women are choosing to sell their breast milk instead of donating it. If you are interested in selling your breast milk, check out the following:
- Only the Breast. Sign-ups are required for members, but once signed up, members can post ads selling their breast milk. Users needing milk can then find milk in their area.
- Mother’s Milk Bank. This is the only milk bank that buys breast milk at $1/oz. A screening process is required, but all fees and shipping is covered by the milk bank.
*Please note that the sale of breast milk is illegal in New York, Texas and California
What about you? Have you ever donated breast milk or used donated breast milk for your babies? We would love to hear your stories or any tips you may have!