Guidance on Milk Sharing for Healthy Term Babies
Informal milk sharing has both risks and benefits. When considering milk sharing, it is important that parents take safety precautions seriously, use milk obtained from a known and screened donor, and avoid milk sharing or purchasing over the internet.
What Is Milk Sharing?
The practice of chest/breastfeeding another person's baby or providing expressed human milk to another person for their baby.
Hospitalized or Home?
Hospitalized babies may be receiving pasteurized donor milk from a milk bank. Parents whose babies are at home are sometimes considering obtaining or buying milk from others on their own.
Where Can you find Reliable Information?
Can I donate milk that’s already in my freezer?
Yes. Milk banks have different guidelines about how long milk can be stored in the freezer before it is sent to the milk bank. All milk must be in containers specifically for milk storage (milk storage bags, bottles from NICU, etc.) and must be dated with the month/day/year.
Is Milk Sharing Safe?
Many forms of milk sharing are NOT considered safe, including purchasing or arranging milk donation over the internet. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine recommends that families only accept donated milk from a known source who has been evaluated by a physician or other medical provider and who uses safe milk expression, storage, and handling practices.
How Can My Potential Donor Get Screened?
What Will They Screen For?
Potential donors will be screened for general health & medical conditions, medications and herbs they are taking, infectious diseases, and social practices like smoking, alcohol, & recreational drug use.
What are Safe Milk Handling Practices?
It's critical that donors use recommended safety protocols while expressing, storing, transporting, and handling human milk. This protects babies who are receiving the milk from illness.
Baby Cafés are free, drop-in, informal breastfeeding support groups offering ongoing professional lactation care and intervention. Most are open for 2 hours at least once a week. Some communities have more than one, meeting different days of the week.
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