When Laura Penny Bade from Levittown was producing enough milk to share she decided to donate.
She said the process was daunting — pages of paperwork, blood tests and shipping expenses were out of pocket. The closest milk bank is in Ohio and she needed to pump 100-ounces to make it worthwhile.
But Bade said she would do it again. “I just felt like it was something very good to do sort of like donating blood, but even more special because who can give breast milk? Only a lactating woman,” Bade said. “That’s such a short period in anyone’s life, that to be able to do that and provide such healthy nutrition for somebody else’s baby it’s just, it was a blessing for me.”
After researching banks, she decided to donate to Human Milk Banking Association of North America, the only FDA recommended bank.
Women find they can’t breast feed for myriad reasons. But some feel formula won’t give their infants vital nutrients for health.
Some women are turning to Facebook sites to connect with moms who have milk to share.
Diane Spatz is with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She is a supporter of milk donations, but not informal sharing through the Internet. Spatz isn’t surprised women look to these outlets for help when they can’t breast feed. She said there is a lack of resources for a nursing mother to turn to if she is having trouble breast feeding. “Human milk, breast feeding, it saves infant lives and so if we want to prevent death we could do so by helping more moms be successful at breast feeding and we just don’t have that in the United States,” Spatz said.
Spatz says only 13-percent of women breast feed exclusively for the first 6-months. She calls that a crisis.
The FDA recently issued warnings against informally sharing breast milk. Without guidance from health-care providers, it could put babies at risk for infectious diseases.