Considering how uncomfortable the majority of Australians are with all things related to breastfeeding* I was pleasantly surprised by the media's treatment of these issues. The pieces would have been better had they included information about the dangers associated with not breastfeeding and the use of inferior milks, especially given that reporters enquired about the safety of breastmilk sharing. Omitting this, I felt, left their reports unbalanced. It also would have been great if the World Health Organisation's guidelines for infant feeding during emergencies had been mentioned in these reports. WHO clearly states that feeding children milk from another lactating mother is superior to artificial milks.
I was also disappointed by The Herald Sun's attempt to create controversy where there isn't any. As far as the report says one group of women disagreed over adding cross-nursing to their baby-sitting arrangement, while another pair of women were very happy with their breast sharing, the Australian Breastfeeding Association was supportive so long as it was done with consent and all parties were well-informed, and the Australian Medical Association agreed that the health risks associated with milk sharing are minimal. But, in the eyes of a tabloid publication "mothers supporting other mothers" really isn't as catchy or profitable as "cat fights over titty milk!"
Thousands more Aussies are now aware that breastmilk sharing is a legitimate parenting option and that there are regular mums right here at home engaging in the practice, which is fantastic. The great work Eats on Feets has started facilitating has got some worthy attention, which is also fantastic. It is sad, however, that breastfeeding rates in Australia remain unnecessarily low and that efforts to organise breastmilk donation have not happened on a much larger scale through milk banking or official government health initiatives. Instead, breastfeeding mums have taken it upon themselves to fill this gap privately. More power to these awesome lactivists, but come on Australia, surely our supposedly family-friendly government can do better for mothers and children!?
For More Information About Milk Sharing
Le Leche League Info on Milk Banking and Milk Donation
Kellymom Human Milk Banking and Donor Milk Information
Adoptive Breastfeeding - Australian Breastfeeding Association
Adoptive Breastfeding - Le Leche League
Eats on Feets - Facebook
Breast Friends Forever: Breast Sharing Between Families - Essence Magazine
Behind the Scenes - blog post about the above news article
A Very Personal Gift
Breast Milk A Cure For Cancer?
Cross Nursing Support
Pumping For Grace
*for one example of this take a look at the comments on The Herald Sun article, the disgust at toddlers breastfeeding clearly demonstrates that normalising breastfeeding in Australia has a long way to go, afterall breastfed toddlers and their mothers are behaving in totally age and species appropriate ways!