Saturday, July 30, 2011

Operation Grassroots Alaska: Human Milk 4 Human Babies!

This week's edition of Operation:  Grassroots Alaska, focuses on a pretty unknown resource available to Alaska's parents.  One that I wish had been around when I was trying my hardest to breastfeed my children and nothing I tried worked:  Human Milk 4 Human Babies.  This organization is just the greatest if you want to be able to breastfeed your child but you can't (due to health reasons, you being the wrong sex, or because, like me, your breast milk production was either non-existent or just not where it should have been).  This is also a great organization if your breast milk product is fine, or better than fine and you would like to help others who aren't like you.

What is Human Milk 4 Human Babies?  Direct from their own description...
"Human Milk 4 Human Babies is a global organization dedicated to commerce-free, peer-to-peer breastmilk sharing relationships based on informed choice.  We use Facebook as the meeting place - moms who have milk to spare post their offers and families who need breastmilk post their needs, and hopefully they'll find a match!  There are about 300 chapters of HM4HB around the globe right now, and we're always expanding.  HM4HB was launched in March 2011 (prior to that, we were known under a different name - Eats on Feets - which has since been abandoned)"
I just think this organization is so darn cool.  It would have helped me, a woman who had problems with breast milk production and was forced to formula feed my kids, get in contact with people like my sister-in-law (who thought of actually selling her breast milk at one time because she had to pump and throw away so much of it when she was weaning her twins onto regular milk).

Here's some back story and current stats on our local Alaska chapter (via an e-mail Sarah Lewis was nice enough to e-mail me :)...

"The Alaska chapter is run by several local admins - I'm in Fairbanks (Sarah), Denise Hibben is in Anchorage, and Emily Taylor is in Sand Point (on the Aleutians).  We maintain and moderate the Facebook page and try to publicize the organization.  We really want people to know that we're out there, and that donor milk is another option - even if one decides it's not for them personally, it's still great to at least be aware of the option.  I also like to stress that it's a great community to be a part of, even if your breastfeeding relationship is problem-free: the first person I donated milk to was a mother who had to have unexpected surgery and would be away from her two-month-old; she hadn't had the time to pump enough milk for the baby.  Our HM4HB page has made some other incredible matches - the Alaskan community has donated milk to help the mother of a newborn who was hospitalized with an infection and placed on medication she could not breastfeed on; organized a shipment of milk to a mother in Washington state who was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and put on chemotherapy, on which she could not breastfeed; and provided donor milk to a seven-month-old baby who was hospitalized with RSV and intubated when his mother wasn't able to pump enough - and more!"
Here's a little bit more information on what the organization is trying to do to...
"HM4HB is a global milksharing network, a virtual village, comprised of thousands of people from over fifty countries. We are mothers, fathers, adoptive families, grandparents, childbirth and breastfeeding professionals, volunteers, supporters, donors, and recipients that have come together to support the simple idea that all babies and children have the right to receive human milk. We use social media as a platform for local families to make real-life connections and come together as sustainable milksharing communities where women graciously share their breastmilk. HM4HB is built on the principle of informed choice: we trust, honour, and value the autonomy of families and we assert they are capable of weighing the benefits and risks of milksharing in order to make choices that are best for them. We hold the space for them and protect their right to do what is normal, healthy, and ecological.

Breastmilk, the biologically normal sustenance for humankind, is a free-flowing resource and mothers of the world are willing to share it. Milksharing is a vital tradition that has been taken from us, and it is crucial that we regain trust in ourselves, our neighbors, and in our fellow women. Feeding any breastmilk substitute is not without risk and we support the families who know there is another option. We are the bridge that connects local families and brings them together again as milksharing communities. Indeed, the future of humanity depends on our return to sharing in a local and tangible way with one another.

We want milksharing and wet-nursing to be commonplace and babies to be fed at women's breasts whenever and wherever they need it. We dream of a world where mothers from previous generations pass on the tradition of breastfeeding and are a wealth of knowledge and support. We can forsee a time when women protect each other and help one another feed their babies so that every mother feels whole and no mother feels broken or that her body is failing her. We imagine a world where family members, friends, lactation consultants, doctors, and midwives do not hesitate to recommend donor milk when it is needed. We envision a future where families come together to raise this generation, and the next, by nourishing human babies everywhere with human milk and unconditional love.

Every person of the world is invited to join HM4HB. Page administrators, members, donors, recipients, and supporters are all important for building local, real-life communities where acquiring donor milk is no different than asking a trusted neighbor for an egg. We hope that one day in the future all babies in the world will thrive and grow on mother's milk, and HM4HB will no longer be needed because wet-nurses and breastmilk are available on every street, village, town, city, and island around the globe."
For more information, HM4HB actually has a great website: that describes the history of the organization, etc.  The FAQ is at This Link if you are interested in learning more about how to become a donor or a recipient.  And you can join them on Facebook HERE.

So, for all you expectant or new mom's, or for those who just didn't realize an option like this was available, I wanted to pass along this information to you.  And thank you to Stephanie D., one of our blog members, for taking the time to e-mail me about this organization so I could pass this resource on to you!

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