Mama Knows Breast

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USA Today Story About Milk Banks

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Here’s the link to a great story in USA Today about the increased demand for donated breast milk:

With a growing number of doctors saying breast milk is the best food for babies, especially hospitalized preemies struggling to gain weight, the demand for milk donations is increasing. The amount of donated milk distributed by the 10 banks of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America is growing rapidly but is still far below what’s needed, says Pauline Sakamoto, president of the association.
Milk bank managers say federal, state and local health authorities are more aggressively promoting breast milk than in the past, prompting the demand from mothers who can’t provide enough for their own children.

Are You Cross-Nursing?

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A national morning TV show is looking to interview moms who are cross-nursing. Here’s the request from my contact:
BabyTalk magazine and a national morning show are teaming up on a story about cross-nursing that will air later this month, and they’re looking for moms who would be interested in sharing their experiences on camera. If you are currently cross-nursing – breastfeeding a friend’s or relative’s baby – please email with a short description of your cross-nursing experiences and a phone number where you can be reached by the producer of the segment. No travel would be required for the interview – a camera crew would visit your home to tape the piece.
For a little bit of background…cross nursing is a situation where a mom occasionally nurses another child, while she continues to breastfeed her own child. This often happens in a child care situation. Wet Nursing, on the other hand, is the complete nursing of someone else’s baby, often for pay. (definitions from La Leche League).
While the benefits of human breast milk over formula are clear, there are definitely risks involved in cross-nursing. The main issue is the transmission of viruses, especially HIV. In addition, the mother may take certain medications that can be found in breast milk. Given these risks, human milk banks are another option for mothers who want to donate milk, or mothers who are unable to breastfeed their own infants. Milk banks carefully screen the donated milk.
For a summary of the benefits and risks of cross-nursing, check out this article from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition. The site Kellymom also has a good collection of articles. Finally, here’s a link to a post I did a while back about this topic.

Fundraiser for A New Milk Bank in New England

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Boston had the very first milk bank in the country, opened in the early 1900′s at Floating Hospital (Tufts-NEMC). Many milk banks closed in the 1980′s due to fear of HIV, and today, there are only ten milk banks in the U.S. But once again, in Boston, efforts are underway to open up the Mothers’ Milk Bank of New England.
Tanya, of the Motherwear Blog, is working with a breastfeeding coalition in Western Massachusetts to establish a collection station, so that moms who live outside of the Boston area can still donate milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of New England. She’s raising money to buy a freezer. Click here to learn more and make a donation.

Milk Shortage at Colorado Milk Bank

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I first saw this story over at the Motherwear Breastfeeding blog
The Mothers’ Milk Bank in Colorado desparately needs donations. Their supplies are running low. That poses a serious risk for babies like 6 month old Julia Lam, who is getting donated breast milk while she undergoes chemotherapy.
To see Julia’s story, you can watch this video from a Denver TV station.
To make a donation, go to the milk bank website or call (303)869-1888 or toll free (877)458-5503. You don’t have to live in Colorado to help out.

Pork Board vs. Blogger Is Over

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It’s done. They’ve settled the matter, and Jennifer over at The Lactivist is quite pleased.
You may remember this story from last week, when the National Pork Board threatened Jennifer with trademark infringement suit. They said her t-shirt slogan, “The Other White Milk” infringed on their slogan, “The Other White Meat.”
The Board apologized, and employees are actually digging into their own pockets to make donations to the Ohio Milk Bank. (Jennifer donates money from t-shirt sales to the milk bank).
You still can’t buy “The Other White Milk” t-shirts. But Jennifer does have a new one that should make you smile: “Breast: The Original White Milk.”

Breast Milk For Sale– Milk Banks, Wet Nurses and Casual Sharing

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The Washington Post has an excellent story today on the growing trend of alternative ways to feed your baby breast milk, even if you aren’t breastfeeding. The piece, “Banking on Milk: Options Are Growing for Women Who Can’t Breast-Feed,” covers all its bases– non-profit and for-profit milk banks, wet nursing and cross nursing.
Breast milk, touted by the government and even formula-makers as the best food for babies, is becoming a hot commodity. Ten nonprofit milk banks that match donors to those searching for milk are accredited members of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). For-profit milk banks and wet nurses for hire are also available. Countless other private transactions go on, many facilitated by the Internet, creating a sisterhood among strangers. Some moms “cross-nurse” with babies of friends and relatives.
But the milk-sharing movement, still largely an underground network, brings up many questions. First, there is worry about the safety of unscreened milk, which can pass diseases such as HIV and syphilis to babies. Others debate ethical concerns, such as whether people should make money selling human milk and how such businesses should be regulated.

Best of all, Jennifer of The Lactivist is quoted in the article!

Very Funny T-Shirts

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Here are some t-shirt slogans for you:
“I’m No Weaner”
“I suck”
“ain’t yet quit the tit”
Want to buy one of these shirts, or another like it? Then head over to The Lactivist. For every t-shirt that you buy this month, Jennifer is donating 100% of the proceeds to the milk bank in her home state of Ohio. And that money is sorely needed. According to Jennifer’s current post:
One of the great things about the HMBANA milk banks is the fact that they are non-profit. They charge ONLY enough money to cover the processing and storage costs for the milk. While insurance often covers the cost of the milk, some insurance companies refuse to pay. In other situations, the parents of the baby simply don’t have insurance. Since HMBANA milk banks are committed to providing that milk for any baby that medically needs it, that means that they sometimes send out milk that they will never be reimbursed for. In fact, the average milk bank never receives payment for 15-20% of the milk that they ship. Here in Columbus, that percentage if even higher. Add in the fact that the milk bank is barely two years old (and thus hasn’t yet recouped enough costs to pay for all their equipment) and you’ve got a milk bank that’s really struggling to the point that every single dollar of donations REALLY counts.
So buy someone a funny holiday gift. You’ll all get a good laugh out of it, and help a worthy cause at the same time.

Donating Breast Milk

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There are a lot of things you simply don’t know about your breasts before you have kids. I, for one, didn’t know that boobs can leak or grow exponentially. And I certainly didn’t know that you can donate your breast milk. It simply never occured to me that you can donate breast milk in the same way that you can donate blood.
Welcome to the wild wild west of parenting. Lots to know. Lots to know.
Here’s the scoop. Milk banks have been around since the turn of the century. The first one opened in 1909 in Vienna, Austria. In 1919, milk banks opened in Boston and Germany. Today, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) is a non-profit that is sets the standards and guidelines for milk banks in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. It was founded in 1985. There are currently 11 milk banks that distribute the milk to hospitals, and babies who are home and need breast milk. Sometimes they are even able to help babies who have been adopted.
The milk banks screen donors and carefully process and pasteurize the milk. If you’re interested in becoming a donor, contact the milk bank closest to you.
In addition to the milk banks that are affiliated with the HMBANA, there is now also a company called Prolacta. This for profit operation is also collecting breast milk and selling it to hospitals.
Prolacta recently announced a deal with the University of Minnesota Medical Center to collect milk. Like the milk banks of HMBANA, Prolacta then sells the milk back to hospitals. Only it charges a lot more. This recently caught the attention of some of my fellow breast feeding bloggers. To read The Lactivist’s take on Prolacta, click here.
Prolacta is also a sponsor of an organization called The International Breast Milk Project that collects milk and sends it to children in Africa who are orphans because their parents had HIV. Here’s a news story about donations to children in South Africa.
Whatever your take on Prolacta, I think the main thing to focus on here is that there are moms out there whose generosity is helping improve the lives of babies who need help. Think about how tiring it is to feed and care for your own children. Now consider that these donors are also taking the time to pump milk to help babies that they’ll never meet.
Breast milk donors, we applaud you!

Mothers’ Day News–Remembering Milk Banks

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Did you know that there are actually places where you can buy breast milk? There are ten milk banks across the country. But there was a time when it was even more common to donate breast milk. This New York Times article recalls those days, from the 1920′s to 1950, in New York City.