When my husband and I announced that I was pregnant with a girl, friends and family were more than willing to loan or give us a variety of baby items. My aunt passed down a crib and my sister and best friend showered my daughter Liv with a closet full of clothes.
Actress Alicia Silverstone, 36, is advocating not only hand-me-downs originally purchased at Babies ‘R’ Us or Baby Gap but also sharing a very personal product—breast milk.
A few days ago, Silverstone, a strict vegan and mother to 2-year-old Bear Blu, launched a program called “Kind Mama Milk Share” via her blog, thekindlife.com. The breast milk-sharing program is targeted at mothers who live eco-friendly lives and embrace a vegan diet. The actress started the program after a friend was unable to produce enough breast milk to feed her baby and had no way of telling what kind of lifestyle choices mothers in existing donor programs had made. Devastated, the friend turned to Silverstone for help.
Breast milk sharing programs, such as Silverstone’s, are controversial because of the lack of screening laws to determine whether or not donated milk is virus-free. The FDA does not approve of online programs such as “Kind Mama Milk Share” because of the risk of HIV and other viruses that may be present in the untested milk. By launching the program via a website that focuses on healthy choices, Silverstone hopes to avoid this problem.
As a strong proponent of breast milk, I was blessed to breastfeed Liv for 14 months. While we had to supplement with formula after I returned to work, I felt the decision to continue breastfeeding was a positive one for my child and our situation.
I watched as some friends struggled to produce enough milk to feed their children while others produced more than enough but had to go a different path because of their infant’s allergies. Some of these women turned to online programs and discussion boards for help.
It was during this time that I first heard about breast milk sharing programs. It filled me with pride when I heard about mothers giving their excess milk to allow other babies to have this healthy nourishment and a chance to receive the benefits that breast milk is said to give, including lowering the risk of SIDS and protecting against many childhood illnesses.
Some of the most incredible stories I’ve encountered involve a child dying and the mother giving her frozen supply of milk to a family in need. That takes courage and should be commended.
While I may have eaten too many burgers and fries for Silverstone’s taste, I would have been proud to share breast milk with mothers and children in need. Instead of being condemned for her extreme beliefs when it comes to health and community, Silverstone should be praised for her program, which focuses on healthy breast milk that many children would be able to use.
Ultimately, I believe breastfeeding is a personal choice. If a mother is unable to breastfeed for any reason or chooses not to do so, formula is certainly a viable option. But if a mom is willing to share and another mom wants to accept that gift, who are we to judge?
Jen Schneider, who is married with a daughter and stepson, wrote this guest blog for momaha. She’s a full-time middle school teacher who maintains her personal blog, Liv, Laugh, Love.
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Also read: No need for extra breast milk to go to waste
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