World Milksharing Week — Cindy’s Story, Donor

September 27th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Cindy Collins

I went to Denmark for a midwifery conference in 2009. I was nursing my 14-month-old, who did not come along for the trip. I had planned to pump to maintain supply and find someone to donate to. Well on the way to the airport I realized I had forgotten my ENTIRE luggage!!! I fortunately put my pump in my carry-on bag. I had the basic essentials: currency, passport, pump, a shirt. I left all my proper storage EBM (expressed breastmilk) containers in my luggage. There wasn’t enough time to go home and get the luggage. So when I pumped I would store my breastmilk in various beverage bottles.

The funny part is, since my room did not come equipped with a refrigerator, I had to use the one at the front desk. I swear every time I brought down a new bottle of expressed breastmilk to be stored, which was stored in a glass refrigerator just behind the front desk that guests could see right into, there was a different person working. I felt the need to explain to each person working the desk I had not met before that I had forgotten my entire luggage back in the states and that I normally would store breastmilk in proper storage containers - not beverage bottles. It was humiliating. At the end of the week, a Danish mom came to get the milk, I apologized and explained to her also what had happened. We had a good laugh and she was grateful for the milk.

Since that trip I travel VERY light :O)

Cindy

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

Find a breastmilk donor/recipient:   Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

World Milksharing Week — Kristi’s Story, Recipient

September 26th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Kristi Autrey, Mom of 4 Wonderful Boys

I am a mom who suffers from IGT (insufficient glandular tissue), and have been able to nurse 4 babies to the best of my ability. Most moms in my shoes would have given up and gone to the bottle but I was determined to give my baby everything I could. As long as I made a drop of milk, I was going to give it to my baby! I went through a lot giving my baby the best I could: lots of doctors appointments for weight checks, lots of mouth from other people telling me to give up, that I was starving my baby to death. At times, I would think they were right. And then I would get up, latch my baby to my breast with the at-breast supplementer, and smile, for I was giving my baby the best.

Braden breastfeeding

I can only make about 15 ounces/day, maximum, so I have had to give formula in the past because I thought there was no other option. I have never had any one around me nurse. They all went straight to bottles, so the thought of getting milk from another mom was never a reality for me until I had my fourth son. He was 7 months old when I found milksharing. It has changed my life and the way I feel and think about formula feeding and why any mother would go straight to formula and not even try to nurse her baby. It is sad we live in a society that pushes formula as the mainstream way to feed a baby.  They always say “breast is best,” but shove formula in your face. Why could they not say, “There are donors who make too much milk for their babies and who are willing to give milk to yours if you can find one.” I think if they would, there would be more people breastfeeding their babies and the formula bottle generation would fade into the background. Then women at the store giving their babies a bottle would be the odd ones, not me, the woman with the nursing shawl and a baby attached to the breast while grocery shopping.

Braden nursing

My son was having serious issues with the formulas I thought I had to give him. He started on supplementary formula at 5 days old and from week 2 of his life went from pooping a lot to none at all. He would only poop once a week and when he did it was hard and black or dark forest green at times, but mostly solid black. He would throw up every time he had his bottle and it was not a little, it was half or more of what he ate. I was always covered in puke. His weight was very slow to gain and the doctor was constantly saying if he didn’t gain we were going to have to put him in the hospital. I had already been through this with 2 of my sons and history was repeating itself, but this time I had a computer and internet. When he was 5 months old we got it. Through talking to other breastfeeding moms who are like me and can only give their babies part of what they need, I got some support I badly needed. My husband and my mom were my only sources before and though they never gave up on me breastfeeding and I would not have made it without them, at times they would make me feel as if they were leaning towards the other side of giving up. Through these mom forums I found out about Eats on Feets, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and Milkshare.

As soon as I found out milksharing was an option I went straight to the sites and posted my need on all of them. It took me a couple of weeks to find a mom who could donate to me so when I got my first shipment in the mail it was like getting brand new diamond earrings. That box was pure gold in my eyes. I took it in the house and opened it as fast as I could, worried that the milk had thawed in transit. Oh, the relief when I opened the box and took the lid off the cooler:  frozen solid. Yes! It made it to me! I thawed 20 ounces that day and started on my journey of providing donor milk for my son. Within 3 days of starting the donor breastmilk he stopped throwing up. After a week he started pooping every other day, at first, but he was pooping and it was not hard. It did not hurt my baby. No more bleeding; just to do the most natural thing: poop.

The difference in my son is nothing short of a miracle. The women who have provided milk for my son are angels. They will be blessed for the gift they have given me and my son. I could never repay them for this. He is doing great! I learned after taking my son off the formula that he was allergic to it and that all the intestinal problems and throwing up was because of that. My doctor said they did not tell me that because there was no other option for me besides formula, so they just kept switching him to different formulas and giving me medicines to counteract the problems the formula caused. My son is 10 months old now and has been on donor milk for about 10 weeks. His tummy is healing great and he is a brand-new baby thanks to all the moms who have donated to my little man. I cannot thank them enough for their love and generosity. I wish I would have known about milksharing from the first day I had to give any of my babies formula. I am glad it is there when needed but there should be doctors and LC’s telling mothers that are having problems with formula that there is another option and that milksharing is the best option. Their hands are tied and cannot tell us, so I am trying to get the word out about milksharing, so no mom has to dump her milk because it went bad, and no baby in need has to suffer because of formula intolerance!! I am thankful for milksharing and all the sites that provide the place for us moms to connect to each other. :)

Happy, Healthy Milksharing Recipient

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB): http://www.hm4hb.net/

World Milksharing Week — Michelle’s Story, Donor

September 25th, 2011 by MamaBear

 By: Michelle Pacheco

My milksharing journey started when my baby was about 5 months old. I had 2 freezers full of breastmilk, and I started to panic because we weren’t using it. I was continuing to add to it, and quickly running out of room. By December I started throwing milk out because someone told me that after 6 months it was no longer good. After that night and tons of guilt I started googling. I posted on a breastfeeding forum that was part of the message boards that I used while I was pregnant. Someone reccomended I donate it to a milk bank. I looked into it and when I found out about the pasteurizing and that they charge $2.00 an ounce I was sickened. I couldn’t believe they would charge so much for something that is FREE, and more importantly who on Earth could afford that? I came across a website called milkshare.com. I read through some posts and realized that this was the only option for me….and my milk.

I saw a post that really touched me, and I contacted the person who wrote it. The mom that I spoke with had just had her second child. Her first baby had milk from over 20 different donors until the age of 2. She knew when she became pregnant with her 2nd child that she would do the same for him. The mom has a deformity of her breasts that wouldn’t allow her to produce milk. She didn’t know about this until after her daughter was born and losing weight. I remember thinking to myself, “Oh my goodness, what if that happened to me? What would I do? Who would help me?” From our first conversation we clicked. A few days later she sent me a cooler. The following day I packed the cooler and as I placed it on the scale at UPS, I felt kind of sad. The bulk of the milk in that cooler was pumped while my daughter was in the NICU. It was a time that was so incredibly difficult for me and for my husband but a time that was also full of memories of our brand-new tiny baby. Each date written on each bag held something special in my heart, Whether it be when they took my baby off of the oxygen or they increased her feeds, or a day where I got to hold her skin to skin for a few hours. So it was a very bittersweet moment. However, I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. I felt so grateful that I had it to give and that there was someone out there who trusted me enough to give my milk to their precious little baby. I have since stopped pumping…only about a month ago. My daughter is 14 months old, still breastfeeding like a beast, 4-5 times a day…. it took her 4 months to figure it out but once she got it she never looked at a bottle again. I have shared 2,100 oz of frozen breastmilk. I have about 300 oz that I will be sending out next Monday, and that will be end of my 2-freezer stash and my milksharing relationship. However, we plan to still stay in touch.

Milksharing has been so incredibly rewarding. When I see my little girl crawling around, and when I see pictures of Jacob, its amazing to me that my body produced exactly what these 2 beautiful babies needed to get through the first year of life, and the fact that they are healthy thriving toddlers.

Needless to say, I plan on doing it again :)

World Milksharing Week 2011 logo

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

World Milksharing Week — Sara’s Story, Recipient

September 24th, 2011 by MamaBear

By:  Sara Harris Mullen

Milk sharing is the most self-less act a mother can do. Milk sharing is the donation and sharing of breast milk between mothers who have, and mothers who do not. The following is my story.

Anabelle was born at 41 weeks, and she was absolutely perfect in every way. I had always known that I would breastfeed my children, because my mother breastfed me and my sister.  It’s what was just natural to me. I thought for sure that after my fertility battle, that it would be smooth sailing from then on after I got pregnant. Boy was I in for another shock!!

Annabelle

I’m a firm believer that God chooses certain people to be set forth on certain paths and this was my path. At just over a week old, Anabelle was hospitalized for failure to thrive, she had lost over 10% of her birth weight, dropping to under 5lbs. I worked with lactation consultants and pumped every two hours around the clock. We found out that my body was not producing the normal amount of milk that a mother should at one week postpartum. I was producing an ounce every two hours and was struggling to give Anabelle just a two ounce feeding every two and a half hours. During that five day stay, I also developed mastitis, that is a special pain that I hope to never endure again!

Anabelle started on formula, and I was determined to continue to work on my milk supply. I cried every time I fed Anabelle formula, she didn’t like it, she became fussy, gassy and constipated. I called my Doula crying asking what could I do, why wasn’t pumping and herbs working!! She told me about another option and my heart jumped and I had thought that things would be easier if it were the old days and other women would actually nurse my baby, or if I could have a wet nurse. Dani told me about milksharing and I said yes, I’ll do it, I can’t watch my baby be so unhappy anymore.

She showed up at my door within two hours with 40 ounces of milk from our first donor. I was utterly amazed and eternally grateful. At that time, I didn’t know that this would be a permanent part of our lives. I continued pumping, taking supplements and was even prescribed medication. I was prescribed Reglan, which has a terrible (but rare) side effect of extreme anxiety and depression. I had an anxiety attack one day at work and had to leave. I discontinued the medication and gave up hope of producing enough of my own milk to feed my child. I had immense guilt, what kind of mother can’t provide the most natural thing for her child. I felt that I had failed my baby and that I was not a good mother.

A few months later, I tried another medication, Domperidone. It was too late in the game for this medication to work for me, but I finally had peace of mind knowing that in 9 months time, I had truly tried everything to produce my own milk and feed my child.

In the last ten months, we have been touched by the most amazing generous women I have ever come into contact with. Women who have fed my child when I couldn’t do it myself. Women who love children so much pumped their milk to feed my baby. I am forever indebted to these women for the gift they have given me and my daughter.

I ask that you now pass my story on so that others may know about milk sharing. It’s a long hard road wondering where your next donation of milk will come from and the farther the word spreads about milk sharing, maybe the road traveled by us moms who use donor milk won’t have to be so rough in the future.

Sara, David, & Anabelle Mullen

World Milksharing Week: http://www.worldmilksharingweek.org/

Share your breastmilk/request breastmilk:  Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB)

World Milksharing Week 2011

September 17th, 2011 by MamaBear

World Milksharing Week, what’s that?  It’s a week to celebrate milksharing, a week to affirm that human milk is the biological norm for babies.  This year sparks the first-ever World Milksharing Week, created by the incredible Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network administrators.

frozen breastmilk

Mark your calendars, ’cause it’s coming fast.  In just seven days, World Milksharing Week (September 24-30) starts!  All over the world, several celebrations have already been planned.  You can join one or create your own.  Check out WMW’s Facebook page and “like” it to show solidarity.  How will you celebrate?

world milksharing week Pictures, Images and Photos

No one said it was easy to walk the walk…

September 13th, 2011 by MamaBear

My previous post was about how and why Emma Kwasnica retracted her “momination” from babble.com’s “Moms Who are Changing Your World” contest.  Now babble.com has responded to this news through this post by Catherine Connors titled “Shame and the Mom:  On Formula, Lactivism and Why, it Seems, we Can’t Just all get Along.“  In the response, Connors starts off by saying she’s a former breastfeeder, former (and current) breastfeeding activist, and lists all the ways she has helped with the cause.  Then she explains that she is paid by babble.com and acknowledges that babble.com uses formula advertising to make some of its money (which eventually helps to pay for her salary).  So far, I understood and had no reason to disagree…  And then she writes the following:

“The money that I earn is, on this view, ‘blood money,’ because it comes from a company that accepts such advertising. Formula advertising is, after all, indisputably evil, because formula itself is evil.”

Stop right there.  Formula advertising IS evil, but it does not follow that the advertising for it is evil because the formula itself is evil.  Formula is simply a product, one that is sometimes necessary.  It is not inherently evil.  It is inferior to what it is trying to replace (FAR inferior) but that does not make it evil.  No.  What makes ADVERTISING formula evil is that because formula is so inferior, the marketing has to be so dang deceptive that it needs to dupe the consumers of said product that it’s “almost as good” as what it’s trying to replace.  The marketing tactics need to hoodwink vulnerable populations (more about this term later) into believing that formula is somehow necessary.  This advertising must be so subtle and so pervasive that it needs to pull the wool over the eyes of not only the direct consumers of this inferior product (mothers, fathers and their babies), but also society as a whole (doctors, hospitals, John Q. Public).  It has to convince humanity that not only is formula “okay” it’s “healthy,” even.  It has to convince women — mothers — to forgo feeding their babies what they know to be biologically appropriate, high-quality nourishment and replace it with low-quality artificial slop.  Formula advertising is, by its very existence, a LIE.

Step back for a minute…  Imagine a totally different world than the one we live in.  Imagine that formula were not used except in cases of rare metabolic disorders.  What would we as a society do?  Well, for starters, most women would breastfeed.

breastfeeding

There would be no controversy with breastfeeding in public or extended nursing.  Everyone would intuitively understand that babies and toddlers need to be fed, and this is how you feed them, with mommy’s breasts.  Hand-expression would almost certainly be commonplace.  Pumping as well.  Doctors and other health professionals would be well-versed in troubleshooting breastfeeding problems (instead of encouraging moms to give up).  But what about women who didn’t have breasts?  Or who had insufficient glandular tissue?  Or couldn’t produce enough milk (for whatever reason)?  What about their babies?  Well…  What’s the next best thing?  Another lactating woman, of course!  And since most women who have babies would be breastfeeding their own, there would be plenty to choose from, should a family need to hire a wet-nurse (the term used to describe a woman who nurses another person’s child).

In a world like the one I just described, an alternative to breastmilk would only be truly necessary for those babies with metabolic disorders (galactosemia and PKU), less than 1/100 of 1% of all babies born.  Formula would be necessary for their survival, yet it’s easy to see that advertising for it would be completely unnecessary.

In fact, formula advertising is unnecessary NOW in our current world.  Everyone knows formula exists.  Everyone knows where to buy it.  Everyone knows what it’s for, and anyone who is curious can read the ingredients list to see what’s in it.  There is no need whatsoever for advertising for this product, and in fact, advertising this product has shown measurable harm (reduced breastfeeding rates in entire populationsinfant death, etc.).

Remember that term “vulnerable populations?”  It conjures up images of third-world countries and starving people with no access to safe drinking water with which to mix their peddled formula.

Nasty

That is ONE interpretation.  Here’s another (just as legitimate):  newly post-partum mothers, exhausted, unsure, delirious with sleep-deprivation, and extremely sensitive to any suggestion that their baby might not be thriving immediately at their breasts.

tired mom

This describes very nearly 100% of all new moms.  It’s an extremely vulnerable population.  And it also happens to be the primary target demographic for formula advertising (along with pregnant women, of course — gotta get ‘em thinking about it early).

Formula is not evil.  Formula advertising is.  Check out Jodine’s new post about her take on Catherine Connors’ babble.com defense.  The screen shots of the advertisements on babble.com are enough to make your skin crawl.

Before I forget, I’ve gotta say this:  Connors implied that Kwasnica was somehow “shaming” mothers who formula feed.  How is that, exactly?  She started a worldwide network to connect moms who need breastmilk for their babies with those who have extra breastmilk to give.  How is that shaming?  She found an elegant, real-world solution for the problem of attaining breastmilk for those babies whose mothers couldn’t produce enough for them.  No one else before her had done anything like this.  She’s STILL working tirelessly every single day, so that more communities around the world are connected and more babies are getting the human milk that is their birthright.  She does it for free, because it’s the right thing to do, because it makes the world a better place.  She’s not taken any money from any formula company, and I’ll bet she sleeps very well at night because of it.

 

“Momination” retracted by “Mominee”

September 12th, 2011 by MamaBear

Remember my last post?  In it, I talked about Emma Kwasnica, how awesome she is, how she was “mominated” for an award by babble.com.  Turns out babble.com has lots of formula ads.  So, the money that Emma would have won, had she won, would have been, in part, funded by formula “blood money.”  When Emma found out about this, she decided to take a stand and retract her “momination,” even though she was in the top ten and a solid contender for the win.  So the links to her babble.com “momination” in my previous post don’t work anymore.

Ph.D. in Parenting wrote an excellent piece about this.  Go read it.  Jodine Chase, the fabulous woman who “mominated” Emma Kwasnica in the first place, also wrote about it from her perspective.  The consensus all around is that Emma’s actions solidify why it is we love her:  she lives her principles.  We salute you, Emma Kwasnica!   Keep being awesome.

Emma Kwasnica

Mominations: Emma Kwasnica

August 26th, 2011 by MamaBear

Emma Kwasnica

Hello, world!  It’s been a while since my last blog post, but that’s because I do most of my interaction via Facebook.  Today, though, I felt it necessary to blog because there is a very special lady who I want to write about.  This lady is Emma Kwasnica.  I know, I know, I’ve talked about her before.  But she’s worth talking about again.  Let me tell you why.

Emma Kwasnica is making the world a better place.  Each and every day, she helps families around the world get breastmilk for their babies.  She does it all for FREE.  She does it out of the goodness of her heart, her sincere love of babies, mothers, families… humanity.  She created the wildly successful Human Milk 4 Human Babies GLOBAL network to help connect needy families with families that can spare the breastmilk.  She enables and inspires community-building, healthier families, more informed birth choices, and yes, even world peace.  How many people do you know who do that?  She is the Earth-Mother-rock star you’ve never heard of (well, maybe you have ;)), the Mother Theresa of the mommy world.  Remarkably, she’s also really very humble about it.

Emma Kwasnica has rightfully been “mominated” for a babble.com prize.   Please, if you haven’t already, vote for her.  I guarantee you she will do good things if she wins, because she will do good things even if she doesn’t win.  Whatever she does will benefit humankind as a whole.  Even if she decides to spend all the prize money on herself, she would still deserve it.  But she won’t, because she’s Emma, and she basically dedicates her life to helping others.

To vote, please click on this babble.com link.  Then click on “like” where it says “click ‘like’ to vote for me” to vote for Emma.  It’s very simple.  You need to be logged into your Facebook account in order to do so.  Please do it and please share the link with all your friends so that they can vote for her, too.

If you are reading this, Emma, please know I fervently hope you win.  You are beautiful inside and out, and an inspiration to (surely) thousands of women around the world.  Thank you for all you do!

Nurse-in in Georgia. Be There.

May 18th, 2011 by MamaBear

A city just outside the metro Atlanta area called Forest Park has recently made it illegal for children over 2 to nurse in public.  You heard that correctly.  Illegal.  As in, can be fined for it.  Or possibly even put in jail.  For nursing.  A toddler.

There is no shame — or at least, there shouldn’t be any shame — in breastfeeding a baby or a toddler in public.  This is what a toddler nursing looks like:

 

New Zealand PSA

  And this:

Lesotho toddler

And this:

Jesus nursing

It should be obvious to everyone that a law like this one is hostile not only to those who breastfeed a toddler of 2+ years, but to every breastfeeding dyad.  Why?  Well, if a mother is breastfeeding a baby of any age (even younger than 2) in a place where a law like this is in effect, this means that legally, she can be harassed for breastfeeding her baby.  She may not be fined or jailed for breastfeeding a baby that is under 2, but she could be questioned, pestered, bullied, and shamed into early weaning because of it.  A law like this could make it a cinch to drive the already floundering breastfeeding rates in the United States all the way to the floor.  It needs to be NIPped in the bud. (Pun totally intended.)

A breastfeeding-supportive father, This Daddy, called John Parker, City Manager of Forest Park, GA, and one of the creators of this asinine law.  Here’s This Daddy’s entry about the phone call, which reveals a lot about John Parker’s priorities.

There will be a nurse-in to peacefully protest this harmful law.  KellyMom on Facebook has all the details.  If you live in Georgia or in the surrounding area, please try to make it there, Monday, May 23rd at 10:00 A.M. Here’s the address:

745 Forest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA 30297

If you can’t attend the nurse-in physically, at least write Forest Park and tell them you think this law is harmful for babies and their mothers, and why.  Use this contact form.  If you prefer to use your email or snail mail a letter, or if you’d like to call or fax John Parker’s office, here is the information necessary to do so:

Office of the City Manager
745 Forest Parkway
Forest Park, Ga. 30297
Phone: 404-366-4720
Fax: 404-608-2343 

John Parker, City Manager
Email address - jparker@forestparkga.org

Angela Redding, Management Analyst
Email address - aredding@forestparkga.org

Jan Young, Executive Assistant
Email address - jyoung@forestparkga.org

Last but not least, there is a petition you can sign called “Repeal restrictions on breastfeeding” to help with this cause.  Please do.

Comment on my Facebook page, please:

Breastfeeding Symbol Facebook Page

Shipping with UPS could cost you a lot more than money

May 11th, 2011 by MamaBear

I was shocked recently when I read about a terrible shipping fiasco with UPS.  A shipment from a breastmilk donor was sent out via UPS and paid for by the recipient, but the recipient never received it.  Furthermore, all UPS told the recipient was that the package was “damaged in transit” and “discarded.”

If you have Facebook, you can see for yourself the thread here on the Washington HM4HB page.  The donor shipped over FIVE HUNDRED OUNCES of breastmilk from Washington State to Virginia.   All 500 oz were “lost” by UPS.  That’s almost exactly four gallons of human milk.

Picture four of these (containing breastmilk, not cows’ milk):

One gallon of milk

Fifteen liters (15 L).  I’m writing the different conversions to help you wrap your head around just how much milk was discarded by the shipping company like so much trash.  These five hundred ounces of milk represent HOURS of this donor’s, this woman’s, life.  Hours of effort, love, and care that she painstakingly packaged to gift to a baby and mama in need living across the country.  She donated the milk in good faith and probably never imagined UPS would treat her efforts with such disregard.  Now, because of UPS’s unbelievable irresponsibility, a donor’s efforts have been literally dumped who knows where and a recipient family has been left without human milk.

I wonder how UPS will handle this.  Will they recompense the donor for her milk?  Will they recompense the recipient at least for the money she paid to have her package shipped?  I cannot imagine the agony both mothers must be experiencing right now.  I don’t understand why UPS discarded the package instead of at least showing it to the recipient.  Why did they keep it?  What do they have to hide?

I am sharing this story so that UPS will wake up, and so that if they choose not to respect these two families and milksharing efforts, the milksharing world will take notice and recommend that UPS not be used for any shipping (not just shipping that involves breastmilk).  What do you think?  Please comment on my Facebook page.

International Breastfeeding Symbol FB Page