Archive for the 'Pumping' Category

Chalyn’s Milksharing Story — Exclusive Pumper & Donor

October 5th, 2011 by MamaBear

The first-ever World Milksharing Week has passed, but there’s no reason to stop celebrating milksharing.  In that spirit, I am publishing yet another wonderful milksharing story.  Thank you SO much, Chalyn, for sharing it with the world.  For you exclusively pumping moms out there, it’s a must-read.


By:  Chalyn Myers (Joy N’ Birth doula)

It’s amazing how things work out sometimes.

I found myself, during my fourth pregnancy, once again facing a
vanished twin, once again sick and very depressed. I was sure that
this would be our last baby, and, while I didn’t want to go out this
way, I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it all again. So
I began to form my breastfeeding support team. I dealt with myriad
problems with my first three babies, and, if this was to be my last
chance, I wanted to do everything in my power to get it right. Fourth
time’s a charm, right?

But it was not to be. Not only did I have many of the same issues I’d
had with my other children, God saw fit to send me an even bigger
trial. I got booby trapped. She wasn’t gaining and had even lost some.
The pediatrician was making threats, and I got scared. And at the end
of a sudden, whirlwind weekend of pumping and supplementing with a
bottle, I found myself joining that small group of mothers who pump
exclusively for their babies.

feeding and double pumping

I pumped for about four months, putting bags and bags of milk into the
freezer every day.

stash after ~2 months of pumping

I was sad and frustrated and overwhelmed…and very
lonely. I knew mothers who had pumped, and I knew mothers who had
pumped exclusively, but I didn’t (and still don’t) know any mothers
who had pumped exclusively while also caring for older siblings. I
found a routine of sorts. I learned to feed her while double pumping.
I learned to pump and to feed and to pump and feed while homeschooling
and refereeing fights and fixing sandwiches.

pumping and babywearing; getting ready to start up the knitting machine

She was happy, and she was gaining, but I was still sad.

And then I discovered Emma Kwasnica and Human Milk 4 Human Babies. I
connected with a wonderful mother/baby in need, and soon after, the
whole family drove almost three hours to meet dad and big sister and
deliver my very first donation of about four gallons of breastmilk. I
was beside myself with joy. Not only was I able to use my trials to
help another family, but in doing so, I found some peace about the
loss of our second Baby B. If breastfeeding had worked out like I had
hoped, I would have lost the extra supply my body had prepared for
him. And if I had followed the ped’s instructions and supplemented
with formula instead of pumped breastmilk, I would never have had the
opportunity to connect with the one woman who was able to offer me
something I so desperately needed: healing.

first donation, approximately 4 gallons

Two months after my first donation, we met up again, both families. I
had another more than two gallons of breastmilk for them. It was
amazing beyond words to meet in person the mother and baby who were
able to make something positive out of our loss. I wasn’t able to give
more after that, though I recently celebrated one year of pumping and
have no plans to stop in the near future. I’ve even started a blog to
share my experiences. ( But I
am so thankful that I was able to give something. My only regret, I
think, is that I was afraid to try wet nursing the last time we were
all together. This has been such a healing, learning, growing process
though that I’m finally able to think about having more children.
Maybe I’ll try again after #5…

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World Milksharing Week — Jennifer’s Story, Donor

September 30th, 2011 by MamaBear

Jennifer Coias lives in Brazil.  On September 15, 2011 she gave birth to her beautiful, still baby boy, Jude Mateo Coias via HVBAC (home vaginal birth after cesarean).  Her son had passed away two weeks prior in utero.

Jude's footprints

 Jen writes of this experience:

Our baby boy, Jude Mateo Coias, was born still in our home at 12:30pm. He came in his own perfect timing and his birth was simply perfect. We are at peace that we could give him the birth he deserved and we intend to honor his memory by continuing to advocate for children’s rights in every way possible. Thank you to everyone, from the bottom of our hearts, for your love and support during this time. Our hearts might be broken but our spirit is intact and well thanks to our friends, family and the thousands of people who kept us in their thoughts. We love you all!

Jennifer has decided to pump her milk, Jude’s milk, and donate it to babies in need in Brazil through a milk bank.  So far, she’s donated several times, and continues to pump about 7-8 times a day to continue lactation in order to help other babies.

Jennifer's early milk, full of colostrum, donated September 22, 2011

In the first few weeks of pumping, her old Medela pump was not functioning well at all.  Jennifer had to attach the faceplate with a bungee cord just for it to work.  The above picture shows milk pumped that way, with the low-power pump.  Thankfully, she recently received a new pump, shields, and bags from a mother in the USA who was traveling to Brasilia and hand-delivered the items to her. She now donates to two human milk banks in Brasilia.

Jude's milk pumped on the weekend of Sept. 24-25, 2011

If you would like to send her breastmilk bags directly, or other small, non-fragile items, here is her address (keep in mind it could take several weeks to reach her):

Jennifer & Miguel Coias
Unit 7500, Box 1381
DPO, AA 34030-1381

There is a Facebook page dedicated to her and her family, titled Love & Light for Jennifer Coias & Family. Please visit it and see if you can help Jennifer.  Her family has had to spend thousands of dollars in unexpected funeral expenses. If you can help her, here is a direct link that will take you to a donation page for Jennifer Coias.  Thank you.

Heart for Jude

World Milksharing Week:

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

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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)


World Milksharing Week:

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

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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

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Milk Sharing Made Better — Eats on Feets

February 16th, 2011 by MamaBear

I have not posted anything on this blog for a very long time.  I don’t even want to think about how long.  However, what I am posting today cannot wait.  It’s too important.  There is a new way to share breast milk with those in need, in addition to MilkShare, and it’s also directly mother-to-mother.  It’s called Eats on Feets (, and it’s fabulous!  There is no charge for this service, and since it’s connected through Facebook, it’s almost immediate for both potential donors and their recipients.  Please, if you have extra human milk to give, check out Eats on Feets.  There is one for every state (sometimes more than one for each state), and it’s available in several countries as well!  I cannot say enough good things about Eats on Feets!  It is seriously making the world a better place.

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The Breastfeeding Promotion Act and Women’s Suffrage

September 23rd, 2007 by MamaBear

For those of you who don’t know, suffrage is a quaint little term that has nothing to do with suffering. Women’s suffrage is a right most (not all) women enjoy around the world. It’s a right we US women take for granted. We don’t even think about it come November. Those of us gals who vote go to the polls, cast our votes, and don’t give it a second thought that 100 years ago we wouldn’t have been able to do that.

Yup, 100 years ago, in 1907, some whiny bitches dared to ask for the suffrage men enjoyed, the right to vote and take part in the legislative process. I only call them whiny bitches because I’m sure that’s what they were called back then, and I appreciate historical accuracy. See, now in all the textbooks and classrooms they’re considered heroines and pioneers. In 1920 they managed to finally succeed in their struggle. However, 100 years ago, when they hit the streets with their placards and unladylike picketing, causing unnecessary commotion on the streets with their parades and their desires for “special” treatment, back then they were bitches. And really, how dare they? After all, men were doing a “good enough” job of representing women’s needs and wants without all this …this… needless granting of power to the weaker sex. And come on, how ridiculous to give women the right to vote when everybody knows that a country is only powerful when it does things by force, and since women lack the capacity to show force in the same way men do, it’s only natural that society leave matters of government to the menfolk.

In the context of modern Western society, these hateful ideas, which were spouted by both men and women, are clearly ludicrous. But those were the arguments put forth in the anti-suffragist movement, among others.

What does this have to do with breastfeeding? Lately there has been a spate of breastfeeding discrimination cases which have given me pause (not to mention the completely ridiculous livejournal, mySpace, and Facebook breastfeeding picture-deletion/banning issues which have also popped up). Well, it just so happens that there’s this bill called the Breastfeeding Promotion Act, which is not yet a law and won’t be one unless it gets voted on in the House and Senate. It has been proposed as an amendment to the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, which is itself an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Breastfeeding Promotion Act would include lactation as a protected right. What does this mean? It means a woman who works won’t be forced to choose between her job and continuing with breastfeeding, if her employer decides not to provide a room for her to pump in during her breaks. It means employers would have tax-break incentives to provide their employees with a lactation rooms, so lactating women don’t have to be relegated to a filthy bathroom to pump or breastfeed their children. It also means that as lactational issues become more normalized in the workplace and in public (I believe breastfeeding in public without harassment would also be protected under this bill, by proxy), the goal of getting the biological norm of breastfeeding to merge with the societal norm becomes more likely.

Why did I mention the term “bitch?” Because one of these breastfeeding discrimination cases in the news today has generated a lot of vitriol: The case of the Harvard medical student who wasn’t granted twenty lousy minutes per test day to pump. There are a lot of details to this story which make it very difficult for people to sympathize with her position, namely that she’s being granted a lot of extra time for some disabilities she’s been diagnosed with (dyslexia and ADHD). Here’s my take on it: if she weren’t granted any extra time for her disabilities, would it be reasonable for the testing board to grant her an extra twenty minutes for pumping? The answer is YES. Definitely. Of course. It is absolutely 100% reasonable to be given twenty minutes to pump per test day (and even that is a bare minimum), because pumping is something she would have to do in addition to whatever else she would have to do on her break (eat, go to the bathroom, stretch, close her eyes, make a phone call, etc.). Most of the other test takers are not lactating, and therefore do not have their breasts painfully (and distractingly) filling up with milk. They don’t need the extra time to relieve themselves of engorgement and simultaneously provide enough stimulation to their breasts to continue with lactation. Sure, she could squeeze the pumping in with all the other things she has to get done before the next section of the test is to begin, but why should she have to? Pumping is unpleasant enough. Truth be told, it is an ordeal, one that other (non-lactating) test-takers don’t have to undergo. Her other option (which imo is not an option at all) is to stop lactation entirely, to sacrifice it (and the health of her child) for the sake of completing her degree. Why should she have to do that?! Here’s the answer: She shouldn’t! She is being called a bitch, among other things, because she dares to “have her cake and eat it too.” She dares to strive for a healthy child, a healthy body (breastfeeding prevents disease in the mother, too), and a healthy career, and wouldn’t you know it? Asking for a reasonable accommodation to make all those things a reality constitutes bitchery. (I am not factoring in the accommodations made for dyslexia and ADHD because, as far as I’m concerned, those have nothing whatsoever to do with lactation.) Anyway, all this bitching wouldn’t have to be done at all, it would be a moot point, actually, if the Breastfeeding Promotion Act were passed.

So, this Breastfeeding Promotion Act, how do we “bitches” get it turned into federal law? That’s coming. Stay tuned.

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Bill Maher = Woman-Hating, Child-Hating Idiot

September 15th, 2007 by MamaBear

I’ve seen his stand-up. I’ve watched his show, “Politically Incorrect.” I never was much impressed with either. Sure, he was funny at times — who isn’t if given enough airtime? — But for the most part, he always struck me as a misogynistic ass.

I was not wrong, apparently. Last night, Bill Maher spoke out on breastfeeding and lactivism, making fun of the latter and criticizing the former. Apparently, in Bill Maher’s world, it’s totally okay to show tits if they’re being used ornamentally, but start feeding a baby and suddenly that’s totally inappropriate. He compares public nursing to masturbation… because…Well, because he’s an idiot. I’ll break it down into more digestible pieces for the idiots out there, like Bill Maher, that compare breastfeeding to masturbation because they are both “natural” acts.

Breastfeeding is compared to masturbation, defecation, urination, spitting, and a whole slew of unappetizing but ultimately natural acts by morons everywhere. Here’s a newsflash for you: breastfeeding is natural, yes, and those other things are also natural. Death is also natural, but lactivists are not advocating for public death. “Because it’s natural” is not the only reason to breastfeed. It’s a minor one, not sufficient to fully explain why breastfeeding is better than formula feeding for the infant, just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.

Yes, breastfeeding is natural, but that’s not why most people choose to do it. Women choose it for their babies, and work so hard to make it a reality for themselves, because it’s the best, most healthful feeding choice available to them. Many women who breastfeed successfully cannot pump enough milk to make a full bottle for their babies, a fact that is completely ignored by these (usually men) who criticize women who breastfeed in public by saying they “don’t plan ahead” or are “lazy.” Additionally, a lot of breastfed babies would refuse to drink from a bottle even if their moms did manage to squeeze out enough milk to feed them. You cannot force a baby to eat, either at the breast or from a bottle. What are these women expected to do? Stay at home for two years plus? Never go anywhere, because Bill Maher and others like him deem breastfeeding moms a “nuisance?” (Post-partum depression due to isolation…? Nah… Just tell those ‘whiny’ post-partum women to pop a pill to ‘deal with it,’ right, Bill?) Oh wait, I know what you really want… You want these mothers to wean their babies prematurely so that you don’t have to bother with averting your gaze when you see their babies eating in public. That’s more like it, right? (Remember, many babies refuse to nurse if you cover them with a blanket, so that’s not an option either.)

So, Bill, our cause isn’t “important” enough? This is a public health crisis, as far as I’m concerned, apparently a much bigger one than I initially thought with influential people like you poisoning the minds of your audience members with this dreck, yet you don’t think it’s “important” because you can’t appreciate the effect it has on society? At least tell me you received a check from the IFC, or that you have shares in formula stock, so that the selling of your soul actually made you some money. I wouldn’t be surprised either way, actually. Your stand-up has always had misogynistic overtones, so you probably did this (and gave the formula companies a foothold, probably without even intending to) for free.

Look, I’m all for global warming awareness. There’s definitely enough evidence to indicate that’s a real problem. This awareness of global warming and other salient issues does not preclude me from also being aware of the importance of getting more mothers to breastfeed, and for fighting for the rights of these same mothers to be openly accepted in society when they take their children out in public. How does one negate the other?! I don’t follow your line of (completely irrational) thinking…

Here’s video of Bill Maher making a complete ass of himself. The anti-lactivism segment starts when the YouTube counter reads 2:51. (Those of you in the know will notice Bill Maher is extra clueless since he states that the Applebee’s nurse-out was the “world’s first.” My previous post dispels that bit of fiction definitively.)

Update: The blog response has been overwhelming regarding Bill Maher’s anti-breastfeeding-in-public stance. Salon featured an article about it (in which this blog, as well as others, were linked) entitled “Bill Maher: ‘Don’t Show me Your Tits!’” So, is the next step a nurse-in at the “Real Time with Bill Maher” studio?  This ought to be interesting…

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Fun with Human Milk

September 10th, 2007 by MamaBear

This is what human milk looks like when it’s been allowed to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours:


Notice that it looks layered. The top, opaque layer is cream. The bottom two layers are called milk plasma, or more commonly, skim milk. It is NOT recommended that you skim human milk before feeding it to an infant. You want to make sure your baby drinks the cream. The cream is chock-full of dense and vital nutrients to a developing baby, like cholesterol and fat, both of which are necessary for proper brain development. I would imagine that this is where most of the DHA found naturally in breast milk resides, too.

A lot of people recommend against shaking a container with breast milk in it, citing vague and slightly alarmist claims about “damaging the fragile milk components,” but I tend to think those people haven’t actually had to deal with preparing a bottle for a hungry, impatient baby. Also, I tend to think that while it’s not ideal to “damage the milk components,” shaking is also probably not nearly as “damaging” as it’s made out to be. The usual recommendation instead of shaking is “gentle swirling.”

Gentle swirling” doesn’t always cut it in the real world. If you have the time, by all means, “swirl” away. But if your baby is hungry now and you’re faced with the dilemma of either giving the baby milk with less fat in it (because you’re afraid of shaking the milk and “gentle swirling” isn’t incorporating the fat stuck to the sides of the container) or shaking the container to get all the fat mixed well into the milk, well… Shake the container. It’s okay. Really. Obviously you don’t want to go overboard, because you don’t want to turn the cream into butter (unlikely, but it can happen… If you shake the container for about two hours), but you should harvest all the cream and get it back into the milk plasma however you can. Make sure your baby gets all the fat he/she needs to thrive. Note: It takes far less than two hours of shaking to accomplish this. More like 15 seconds.

Here’s a non sequitur that’s still about human milk:

What do you do with extra breastmilk that you don’t want to donate to anyone?

Make “momsicles!This site shows you (with pictures!) how to cleverly make your own homemade teethers with mother’s milk. Awesome idea. I wish I’d thought of it myself. Although, even if I had, I don’t have any extra milk to spare for that… However, I could use yogurt as they suggest. Sounds like fun!

Make easy homemade coffee can “ice cream” with breast milk.

More great ideas on

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Thinking of Donating Your Breastmilk? Read This First.

September 2nd, 2007 by MamaBear

Many women who pump for their babies often find that they have way more than their baby will ever consume. It is at this point that the thought of donating that extra milk to a needy baby comes to mind.

There are three ways of milk donation that are available so far:

  • Informal milk donation, mother-to-mother
  • Formal milk donation to a HMBANA milk bank, to help babies in the NICU
  • Formal milk donation to Prolacta Bioscience, a for-profit milk processing company, usually through a milk depot that calls itself a “milk bank”

Breastmilk donation is one of the most beautiful, pure, and selfless acts a mother could do for another. Unfortunately, some people are exploiting this generosity and using it for their own ends. If you are a mother intent on donating your excess breast milk to help a needy baby, one option that will allow you to be sure that your intended recipient is a baby and not a for-profit milk processing company is informal milk donation. Informal milk donation is when you donate your breastmilk directly to the family that will be feeding their baby with it. The biggest hurdle with this for most milk donors and recipients seems to be finding a family near them that either needs milk or has a surplus of it.

The best option right now in North America for informal milk donation match-up is an organization called MilkShare. With MilkShare, you can meet your recipient and get to know your recipient family. The only fee involved is a one-time $15 fee for the recipient to join MilkShare. That is all, and $15 is a bargain compared to all the other options available to recipients out there. Donors join for free.

Another match-up organization which will hopefully be up and running soon is Milk Match. It is a forum that will be devoted exclusively to matching up donor and recipient moms informally, though it hasn’t started quite yet. It is not known at this time whether Milk Match will charge a fee for its services.

It is important when engaging in informal breast milk donation to get to know the family you are dealing with, both on the recipient and donor sides. For the recipient, it’s important to screen your breast milk donor by getting blood tests done, which should be at the recipient’s expense, and asking any relevant questions about lifestyle, the same way a milk bank would. The recipient could also learn to pasteurize the breast milk at home very easily and cheaply, if there is a concern about potential pathogens in the milk even after screening with a blood test. If applicable, the recipient should pay for shipping expenses; the donor should never have to incur any expense for donation. No money should be exchanged for the milk itself, as that may tarnish the altruism of the act.

For the donor, it’s important to make sure that the breastmilk you are so generously donating is going to a baby and not to an organization that will re-sell your milk (that’s why it’s important to get to know the family you’re donating to, in addition to the satisfaction of getting to know the baby you are helping to nourish with your milk!) It is an extremely rewarding act, the act of milk donation, when both recipient and donor know each other directly, without a middle-man.

However, there are many legitimate reasons to donate to HMBANA milk banks, a collection of eleven milk banks in North America, as well. HMBANA milk banks take breast milk donations from screened donors, pasteurize the donated milk, and provide it to needy babies in NICUs all across North America for a fee of $3.50/ounce. Often, raw donated breast milk can’t be given to delicate preemies because everything they come in contact with must be free from pathogens, and it is possible that unpasteurized donor milk could contain pathogens that for a normal infant wouldn’t cause a problem but in a preemie could be devastating. This is why HMBANA milk banks provide such a valuable service to the babies that need it the most, including abandoned babies who don’t have parents to advocate for them through MilkShare. What is especially compelling about HMBANA milk banks and what convinces me that they are truly there for the benefit of sick babies is that if the family cannot afford to pay $3.50/ounce for the milk, which is reportedly less than what it costs the HMBANA banks to process it, HMBANA banks will waive this fee for a critically ill baby. Truly, HMBANA milk banks are a godsend to babies in the NICU, regardless of whether or not they have a family to care for them, and regardless of whether their family can afford to pay for the pasteurized breastmilk.

There is a third option for breastmilk donation that everyone should be aware of but that I do not recommend. There are several milk depots across the United States that call themselves milk banks, but these “milk banks” are NOT affiliated with HMBANA milk banks at all. These “milk banks” don’t actually distribute milk to needy babies. These so-called “milk banks” are collection stations, sometimes freestanding, sometimes found inside hospitals or birthing centers, taking in milk to sell it directly to a company called Prolacta Bioscience (the price Prolacta pays for the raw milk ranges from $.50-$2/ounce). To all outward appearances, these milk depots look and sound like a real milk bank, but they do not distribute any milk to any babies, which is part of what real milk banks do.

Prolacta Bioscience, the company which processes the donated breast milk collected at these milk depots, is the only for-profit human milk processing company in the world. It processes donated breast milk and turns it into human milk fortifier, which is meant to be added to human milk, for preemies. What Prolacta doesn’t mention on any of its publications is that this human milk fortifier carries a price tag of $6.25/milliliter, which, when converted to ounces, is $184.83/ounce. This is alarming enough, but since Prolacta is a for-profit company and not in any way associated with HMBANA, if a family with a critically ill baby can’t pay or doesn’t have health insurance or Medicaid, they don’t get the human milk fortifier, even if their baby needs it. Additionally, there are no peer-reviewed studies so far that have even proven Prolacta’s human milk fortifier to be necessary. HMBANA milk banks already have the technology in place to provide preemies with higher-calorie milk, and preemies have already been known to thrive off of the HMBANA-provided milk, so the necessity of Prolacta’s human milk fortifier is questionable. Furthermore, if people donate to a Prolacta “milk bank” and give their breastmilk to Prolacta Bioscience instead of a HMBANA milk bank (both organizations have very similar screening criteria and thus receive donations from the same pool of donors), this depletes the supply going into HMBANA banks which means fewer preemies get the milk they so desperately need at a price that could be afforded.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the only thing disturbing about the for-profit business model thus far. In addition to not easily disclosing the price of their human milk fortifier, and not explicitly informing its donors that their milk will be sold for a profit, Prolacta also reportedly has their donors sign a contract which essentially strips the donors of all the rights to their own breastmilk. Any royalties made off the sale of their breast milk, and any findings made from studying the components in their breast milk, the donors have no right to have. If Prolacta chooses to share their findings with their donors, it will be at Prolacta’s discretion, but the donors give up the right to any royalties or knowledge gleaned from the study of their breast milk the instant they sign a contract with Prolacta. Prolacta can patent components found in any of the human breast milk they receive, which means that Prolacta could potentially use these patented components, manufacture them, and sell them to formula companies so that formula can become even “closer to mother’s own milk.” This not only affects donors and recipients of Prolacta’s products today; it has the potential to affect breastfeeding for the future. If the public becomes convinced that formula is so close to mother’s milk that breastfeeding is unnecessary, then more people will choose to formula-feed instead of breastfeed, and the breastfeeding mothers that do remain will be seen as a societal “nuisance” because they insist on feeding their children in a way that’s “inconvenient” or “obsolete” or incompatible with the way society runs. As it is, with the advent of DHA and ARA being added to formulas to make them more like breast milk, already many people, including doctors, have the perception that formula is “just as good” or “almost as good” as breast milk, which is simply not true. Formula is still far inferior to breastmilk, for many, many reasons beyond talk of mere “components,” but even with the addition of 50 more components (not likely within this lifetime), formula would still be far inferior to breastmilk, given that there are at many hundreds of components in breast milk, many of which do not tolerate heat-treatment or sterilization, which all formula undergoes during manufacturing.

(Martek Bioscience owns the patent on DHA and ARA, for anyone that’s interested. DHA and ARA really are found in breast milk, and those components have been isolated in a lab and now are manufactured to be sold as supplements for adults and children or as additions to formula, so this concept of patenting manufactured breastmilk components isn’t some hokey-conspiracy science fiction fantasy. It’s happening now.)

I’m not saying improving formula for infants is a bad thing. Far from it. I have to supplement with formula for my own baby, so I want what I feed her to be as good as possible. The problem I have with this scheme is the way the donor milk is being obtained from generous donor moms and the implication that the addition of “breastmilk components” in formula has on the future of breastfeeding and mothers’ right to breastfeed. Is it possible that in the far future (100 years from now), women who choose to breastfeed be taxed by the government because the formula lobby insisted on it? If formula becomes perceived by the majority of the population as “just as good” as mothers’ milk, even if it isn’t, because of formula marketing (their marketing tactics are clearly working today, since even some doctors are convinced formula is “almost as good” as breastmilk), and if most voters are formula-feeders 100 years from now, it’s definitely possible. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my granddaughters and great-granddaughters to be taxed for breastfeeding.

All speculation aside, what I’m saying is, inform yourself. Ask lots of questions before donating to anyone. If you are interested in breast milk donation, especially in donating to a milk “bank” that is partnered with Prolacta, read the contract very carefully before signing, especially the parts about the rights you will be signing over to Prolacta. Prolacta often offers a free breast pump to its donors, and this offer can seem very attractive, but it’s not worth signing away all the rights to your own milk for a breast pump. If after asking all your questions, you have more questions than answers, you may want to consider donating elsewhere.

The following milk depots partner with Prolacta, which means that ALL the milk donations donated to the following milk “banks” are sold to Prolacta Bioscience for $.50-$2/ounce (usually $1/ounce). Prolacta then processes the raw donated breast milk and re-sells it for $184.83/ounce. Also, the following milk depots require donors to sign a contract which reportedly strips the donors of their rights to their own milk. None of the following milk “banks” distribute milk to needy babies:

The above list is not comprehensive and does not include all of the milk banks that partner with Prolacta. You need to ask the milk bank you donate your milk to whether or not Prolacta processes its milk in order to be sure.

The following organization partners with Prolacta and sells at least 75% of its milk donations to Prolacta Bioscience for $1/ounce:

It has still not been confirmed by the IBMP’s founder, Jill Youse, what has happened to all the money made from selling the milk to Prolacta thus far. 100% of that money, for three months (May 31, 2007-August 31, 2007), was promised toward the building of a health facility at the Lewa Children’s Home at Eldoret, Kenya. During those three months, the International Breast Milk Project reportedly earned at least $50,000 in sales of donated breastmilk to Prolacta (~$25,000 for June and ~$25,000 for July. It is not known how much was earned for August 2007). This amount of money still has NOT been sent to the Lewa Children’s Home, according to the IBMP. As of the date of this posting, many questions still remain unanswered about how much breastmilk and money are really going to Africa.

ETA:  The IBMP has updated their site a few times since the original posting of this entry.  Happily, according to the newly updated FAQ section of the IBMP site (which is ever-changing), the money in question was donated to Africa.  Hopefully the IBMP will continue its charitable efforts in Africa because, after all, that is the reason why the organization exists.

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What Lighters and Breast Milk Have in Common

July 24th, 2007 by MamaBear

The Transportation Security Administration, the agency responsible for safeguarding our nation’s transportation systems, has finally come to its senses about breast milk. On August 4, 2007, it will be permissible for mothers traveling without their babies to transport more than 3 oz. of the liquid gold, as long as they declare it at the security checkpoint. Due to the strict regulations regarding liquids imposed since August 10, 2006 after a thwarted terrorist attack in the U.K., passengers were not allowed to carry more than 3 oz. of any liquid in their carry-on luggage, unless they were traveling with a baby or young child. This new common-sense approach will make it possible for mothers who pump while away from their babies to do so without the anxiety of having to dump several ounces of precious nourishment upon entering an airport security checkpoint.

Additionally: the ban on most lighters was also lifted. Not that that matters to me, but I couldn’t help noticing that TSA lumped lighters in with breast milk when they lifted the ban, so I thought I should mention it here too.

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