Breast Milk Sharing: Online Communities Provide Options Beyond Formula

Jan 10, 2018

Pediatricians agree that breast milk is the healthiest source of nutrition for a newborn baby, and breast feeding rates are on the rise in the United States. But, nursing a baby isn’t always an option.

“Our daughter was full-term,” says Sarah Fillmore of Des Moines, “but she had to be in the NICU for about a week, and she had some breathing problems when she was born that made it difficult for her to learn how to latch.”

Complicating their situation further, Fillmore stopped being able to pump after three months. She says she had, “these feelings of failure, feeling like I didn’t have enough milk to feed her.”

That’s when she found a milk sharing community online, Human Milk 4 Human Babies - Iowa.

“I was kind of apprehensive about it. I think it’s always difficult to admit you need help, and I think we always feel like we have to be super mom and do everything ourselves […] but we decided to give it a try.”

Human Milk 4 Human Babies is a global network that connects local families who have chosen to share and receive breast milk. Through the local Iowa network, Fillmore says she was able to get to know the mothers she was receiving milk from by visiting their home and meeting their own babies.

“I’ve gotten to know this community of mothers. That’s probably been the best blessing about being a mother, besides my daughter, is just this community of mothers that’s always willing to support each other and share with each other. We’ve been really blessed by it.”

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Fillmore, as well as Susan Falls, author of White Gold: Stories of Breast Milk Sharing, and Jean Drulis, director and co-founder of the Mother's Milk Bank of Iowa.

"The ways in which this community operates provides such a wonderful model for the ways in which people can come together using existing infrastructure like Facebook, FedEx, or industrial coolant, that were never really meant for these kinds of purposes, but that can be used to bring people together."