What do you get when you combine Facebook, newborns, and good ol' fashioned supply and demand? Welcome to "Eats on Feets"-an organization launched to help moms who have trouble producing breast milk find other mothers with milk to spare. Recently taken global by mother and "lactivist" Emma Kwasnica, the network now spans across all 50 states in the U.S. and into at least 22 countries. According to an article published last week in Time, "more than 70 matches have been reported so far, with milk coming not only in bags and jars, but also sometimes directly from the source."
While the idea of a woman breastfeeding another's child has been around forever (see: wet nurse, or more recently, milk bank), it's also one that is known to American audiences squeamish. Just a quick glance through almost any breastfeeding article on Shine shows a vocal amount of ambivalence toward moms feeding their own kids breastfeeding (with posters opting for the "do what you want but I don't want to see it" line of reasoning), while more recent posts about sharing milk are often littered with stern warnings of passing on communicable diseases, like HIV, through breast milk. While it's true that HIV can be passed on through breast milk, it is also true that "flash heating" the breast milk will rid it of HIV. Miriam Labbok, a professor of maternal and child health at the University of North Carolina and director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute, says, "Milk from another human in any manner that's safe from disease is the logical and healthiest next best."
So will American woman make the turn toward breast milk sharing? If the commentary on the Time article is any indication, this "new idea" has been finding some real traction.
Katie Heule writes, "I've had the honor of watching matches in progress and HAPPEN, from adoptive mothers wanting breastmilk for their babies, to a woman with cancer who can't breastfeed because of her treatment, to other moms who just need milk for their children!!
Kim Parent writes, "I was so depressed when I realized that I wasn't making enough milk for my baby (I have hypoplastic breasts), but knowing that my daughter is reaping the benefits of being fed milk that is designed for her little body, even though it is not my own, is so healing. Thank you to everyone who is involved with Eats on Feets!"
What do you think, Shine parents? Would you feed your child another woman's breast milk if you couldn't produce your own? Would you share yours if you had oversupply?