Got milk? Sharing human milk via the Internet.

Center for Breastfeeding Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH 45229, USA.
Public Health Reports (Impact Factor: 1.64). 01/2011; 126(2):161-4. DOI: 10.2307/41639341
Source: PubMed


Available from: Kathleen M Rasmussen, Jun 05, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Peer breastmilk sharing has emerged in recent years as a subject of investigation and occasional controversy. Although researchers know that thousands of milk exchanges are facilitated through milk sharing Web sites every week, there is only limited research into milk sharing practices on the ground. This study examines these practices through a 102-item online survey that asked questions about milk sharing practices, perceptions of milk sharing, and demographic characteristics. Participants were recruited through social media sites specific to breastfeeding and parenting events in Central Florida. The sample consisted of 392 respondents. Data were analyzed using univariate analysis. We found that breastmilk sharing is a complex practice, showing high levels of overlap in which some donors are also recipients, and that cross-nursing sometimes occurs simultaneously with the exchange of expressed milk. Respondents often donated and received milk from people they knew; however, exchanging milk with strangers was also common. Many but not all used the Internet to facilitate milk exchange; participants used well-known milk sharing Web sites as well as their private virtual networks. The study found that most milk exchanges happen in-person as gifts and that selling and shipping breastmilk were rare. We suggest that further research is needed on breastmilk sharing practices to inform breastmilk safety research and policy recommendations.
    Breastfeeding Medicine 05/2015; DOI:10.1089/bfm.2015.0009 · 1.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The exchange of human breast milk, a common and well-established practice, has become a site of public controversy in the US. There is controversy over the use of the internet to facilitate milk exchange and public interest in the practice has been stimulated by a research article published in the journal Pediatrics that identified high levels of potentially harmful bacteria in breast milk sold online. In this article we use feminist critical discourse analysis to critically examine how breast milk sharing is represented in a sample of 30 articles from US print newspapers published in 2010–2013. We found complex and contradictory images of human milk, with medically supervised milk banks represented as a life-saving entity, nature’s ‘liquid gold’, whereas peer sharing of breast milk was represented as dangerous, and in this context breast milk was represented as a potentially life-threatening substance. Women who donated milk to milk banks were represented as altruistic and those who obtained their babies’ milk from the milk bank were represented as responsible and acting in the best interests of their babies. In contrast women who participated in peer milk sharing were represented at best as ill-informed about the risks to babies and at worst, morally reprehensible for disregarding the risks. Mothers who fed their babies this milk were represented as irresponsible and playing ‘Russian roulette’ with their babies. We argue that such contradictory representations are grounded in concerns in high income countries such as the USA with the control and surveillance of the female body through discourses of risk and are based on cultural constructions of individualism and intensive mothering.
    Health Risk & Society 01/2015; online first(1). DOI:10.1080/13698575.2014.1000269 · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lactation and breast milk can hold great value and meaning for grieving mothers who have experienced a recent death of an infant. Donation to a human milk bank (HMB) as an alternative to discarding breast milk is one means of respecting the value of breast milk. There is little research, national policy discussion, or organizational representation in Australia on the subject of breast milk donation after infant death. On 29 November 2013 the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne, Australia hosted Australia's first National Stakeholder Meeting (NSM) on the topic of milk donation after neonatal death. The NSM drew together representatives from Australian HMBs, neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) currently using donor human milk, and Australia's chief NICU parent support organization. The NSM was video-recorded and transcribed, and analyzed thematically by researchers. This article reports the seven dominant themes discussed by stakeholders during the NSM: the spectrum of women's lactation and donation experiences after infant death; the roles of the HMB and NICU in meeting the needs of the bereaved donor; how bereaved mothers' lactation autonomy may interface with a HMB's donation guidelines; how milk donation may be discussed with bereaved mothers; the variation between four categories of milk donation after neonatal death; the impact of limited resources and few HMBs on providing donation programs for bereaved mothers in Australia. This article provides evidence from researchers and practitioners that can assist HMB staff in refining their bank's policy on milk donation after infant death, and provides national policy makers with key considerations to support lactation, human milk banking, and bereavement services nation-wide.
    International Breastfeeding Journal 11/2014; 9(1):23. DOI:10.1186/s13006-014-0023-4