As someone who works in the birth world, I know that breastfeeding is often thought to be
“instinctual” and easy; that it just all works out naturally.
In reality, that’s not the norm.
Nearly everyone who does breastfeed will encounter some struggle. And, of course, there are mamas who don’t or can’t breastfeed for a myriad of reasons.
Because – bottom line – breastfeeding is hard!
Breastfeeding is only one way to feed your baby. Formula is another popular and healthy choice for baby. But did you know there is another option? Donor milk!
Read on for resources I found when I was looking to supplement my supply with my firstborn. Our breastfeeding relationship had a rocky start and as he grew my milk supply wouldn’t keep up.
Around the 3-month mark, we needed to start supplementing a little. I knew donor milk was an option but I didn’t have any experience with getting it.
Luckily, I had all the support and resources within my community to guide me and it made the whole experience comfortable and smooth. Let me be your breast milk guide!
While we unfortunately do not have a physical milk bank in the area, we do have a location that accepts donations and gets it to the Mothers’ Milk Bank for processing.
The Milk Spot in Phoenix accepts donation at their office on Wednesdays and Fridays by appointment.
You can apply to become a donor by contacting the bank directly. You’ll receive a lab-work kit and can complete the blood draw at the Milk Spot.
Typically, milk banks are providing donated milk to hospitals to give it to infants in need. But, the general public can also purchase breastmilk for private use. You contact the Mother’s Milk Bank directly and complete their infant medical history form. The tissue-processing fee will be based on your order. For large quantities and continued donations, a prescription is required.
Milk Sharing Exchanges
An easier, more accessible (and affordable!) way to donate or receive breast milk within the local community is through private arrangement milk-sharing.
Eats on Feets (started by a local Arizona midwife) and Human Milk 4 Human Babies are global milk-sharing networks. They now utilize the power of social media to easily connect those with extra to those in need.
Local chapters are created via private Facebook groups where members can post needs and
preferences like dietary restrictions or medications. Donors can post offers with requests for pick up or bag replacements. Purchasing breast milk or exchanging for gifts is not allowed on these exchanges.
If you’re looking for milk, I suggest posting your need request to both Human Milk 4 Human Babies – Arizona and Eats on Feets – Arizona. Then stay engaged!
Check back regularly – like several times a day. Watch and comment on offer posts. And direct message other mamas with more specific questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want/need! Or say no to milk that isn’t right for you. It’s not personal! It has to work for your baby.
Mamas and babies have been sharing milk “unofficially” since babies were a thing.
Historically speaking, breastfeeding has always had its challenges. What used to be a member of your village or tribe supplying milk for survival has evolved into a modern day option for supplementation needs.
Every community also has those who facilitate those connections to make breastfeeding
exchange possible. Within our own village, we have Phoenix Mama Milk Share, another social media exchange moderated locally.
The wonderful team at Root & Rise Collective located in Mesa will collect and distribute donations. And once you begin to interact in this world, you find other incredible individuals who help coordinate milk sharing in their own circles.
Looking for more resources, support, or knowledge about breastfeeding/breast milk? Check out our other posts here.