Alicia Silverstone Wants To Help Your Low Breast Milk Supply

shutterstock_107266439__1372523799_142.196.156.251If you are a vegan mom who has low milk supply but doesn’t want to give up on breastfeeding, Alicia Silverstone may be able to help. She’s started a breast milk share on her blog, The Kind Life, aimed at helping vegan mothers who have difficulty producing milk. She has labeled the effort, Kind Mama Milk Share.

The idea of an “informal” breast milk share with no screening involved seems a little dangerous to me. I also probably would never employ her whole “Mama Bird” feeding technique. I prefer my kids chew their own food and drink milk from my breast only. Clearly, we have two very different parenting styles.

Women comment on the blog with their location and whether they are in need of milk or have some to donate. Mothers respond to each other with email and other contact information. I’m guessing Silverstone is probably working on a more organized way to run this all, but for now it’s just a bunch of moms reaching out to each other on the Internet with comments like these:

I am in upstate NY and in desperate need of milk for my 6 month old. He has allergies, and I cannot produce milk. We are relying on donor milk right now, but need to find a vegan mama with extra.

Kind Mamas! I’m in Sacramento, CA and I have milk to share. I have an 18 month old son and I’d love to meet other vegan families in the area!

Hi mamas, I’m in Brooklyn and am in need of milk for my one-month-old Levi. I had a breast reduction and am only pumping enough for a bottle every three days. Every little bit will help! Thanks in advance!

Hi! I have a freezer overflowing with milk and would love to help you out! I live in Greenwich Vilalge[sic], Manhattan. Feel free to email me.

The New York Times reports that there have been more and more informal, free resources for moms looking for donated breast milk popping up online. These informal sources are convenient and free. Breast milk banks can charge up to $5.50 an ounce. But these sources also lack the screening that milk banks provide:

Breast milk confers enormous health benefits… But it is also a bodily fluid that can harbor harmful bacteria and viruses, including H.I.V., and H.I.V.-positive mothers can transmit the virus to their babies through their milk. Established human milk banks carefully screen donors, test them for diseases and pasteurize the breast milk they provide.

Obviously the moms who use her site seem to feel this is a great resource. I just don’t think I would be comfortable accepting milk from someone who wasn’t screened for health issues. To each her own, though. Moms get to decide what they feel is best for their baby.

(photo: s_bukley/ Shutterstock)

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  • Amber

    Eventually some poor kid is going to get an incurable disease because of this stupid crap and all of these stupid mothers are going to wring their hands and scream “HOW?!” and “WHY?!”

    Um, because feeding a stranger’s untested body fluids to your children is dangerous and stupid.

    Oh but it’s so worth it. Little Johnny will die of AIDS before he becomes an adult but in the meantime he’ll be so much smarter than all of those formula fed babies. *eye roll*

    • Blueathena623

      Keep in mind this is also apparently for vegans. So the possibility of a disease is better than, say,by our kid drinking the milk of someone woman who ate honey or meat.

    • Amber

      I really hope you’re joking.

    • Blueathena623

      Why yes Virginia, there is sarcasm there :)

    • Amber

      Thank God.

    • NYCNanny

      I know you’re trying to be smart and sarcastic, but you are actually correct. Meat and dairy are NOT good for you. Yes, they taste good and blah blah, but no, they are not good for you. Pretty much everyone agrees with this. If I was not able to breastfeed, I would TOTALLY hook up with this group… I wold not want my children to be drinking either formula or meat/dairy/junk filled breast milk.

    • Lkinney

      hahaha “Pretty much everyone agrees with this” I love when people make wide, sweeping statements with no facts to back it up.

  • Blueathena623

    Two things:
    1. My serious comment — yes, diseases are an issue, but also medications. I don’t know if breast milk banks can do anything about medications either, but I don’t know if I trust the honor system.
    2. My funny(ish) comment — in regards to “baby bird” eating, when my sister and I were younger we saw this documentary that showed this old Russian grandma chewing up a potato and forcefully spitting it into a baby’s mouth. That became one of our running jokes for decades. And yet, I will admit — and I admitted to my sister too — there have been times when I chewed up a tough piece of meat for a few seconds so my kid could eat it. I’m so ashamed.

  • keelhaulrose

    I had low milk supply, and I couldn’t afford the house payment a month it would take to feed my daughters. I’d rather take my chances with formula than some stranger’s unscreened breastmilk.
    I don’t have anything against vegan, but I don’t know all the rules, and last I checked marijuana is a plant product that I’d rather not my kid ingest (just saying that being vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’re living a healthy lifestyle)

    • Kim

      “just saying that being vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’re living a healthy lifestyle”

      Ding ding ding.
      What other things are vegan?
      Vodka is vegan.
      Cigarettes are vegan.
      Ecstacy is vegan.
      Cocaine is vegan.

    • Justme

      Being a vegan sounds pretty awesome…

    • quinn

      Oreos are vegan! Does that help?

    • NYCNanny

      This is a ridiculous comment. Yes, drugs are vegan… but being vegan is (most of the time) more of a lifestyle than a diet. It has to do with treating your body and the environment with respect…nourishing yourself with HEALTHY food, rather than junk. Yes, I know a handful of unhealthy vegans, but that is not the norm. So, no, I do not think this milk group is a bunch of crack smoking vegans sharing crack-laced milk with each other. Get real.

    • SDA

      And how do they know that the mom saying she has vegan breastmilk is really eating a vegan diet?!

  • CMariano

    There are many milk-sharing places, not just for vegans! That’s why it’s important to know and trust where you’re getting your milk from. I’d be happy to milk share with a friend who was in need (and accept milk donations)–but I’d trust them to disclose their diet/mediations/etc. As long as people are smart about it milk sharing can be a great thing :)

  • Guest

    I’d be all for this- provided that the donor mothers could give me a complete medical history with affidavits from every doctor they’ve ever seen in their lives, I could control their diets and lifestyles, and I would have the ability to dictate everything they ate while they were giving me milk.
    As such a thing is impossible, I agree completely with Amber.

    • whiteroses

      This was my comment. Disqus is being stupid.

  • LET

    While I’m not sure I’d take milk from someone I don’t know, I think people are overreacting a bit here. First of all, pregnant mothers are generally tested twice during pregnancy for communicable diseases, so it’s unlikely that a new mother has any (though, of course, it’s possible). Also, you can flash pasteurize breast milk & it’s said to protect against transmission of HIV and other diseases. Granted, it’s your choice to do so or not, but it’s not completely throwing caution to the wind to use donor milk (even unscreened). There are risks in life all the time, you just have to navigate life as best you feel possible for your children as a parent. I don’t think we need to crucify these women just yet.

    • Lou

      Generally being the keyword.
      I am currently pregnant and am on a due date forum where I chat to others due in the same month as me. At least a third of them have denied most medical testing as they believe it is unnecessary and they want their pregnancy to be as ‘natural’ as possible, and yes, apparently blood tests make it unnatural.

    • Justme

      Oh Lord have mercy.

    • Véronique Houde

      Dude… I support the natural birth movement, but that’s just ridonkulous….

    • whiteroses

      Wow. You know what else is natural? Hundreds of kids dying at birth.

      I’ll take modern science any day.

    • Rachel Sea

      I would refuse those screenings, not because I don’t think they’re necessary, but because by the time I’m pregnant, I will have had them, and feel no need to repeat them, given that I have zero risk factors for communicable disease. Most healthy women don’t need most of the screenings offered, but it’s easier to have them all be the standard guideline for liability, insurance, profit, and general public health.

    • LET

      A lot of women think this, but several women on birth boards I contributed to while I was pregnant found out their husbands were cheating based off testing.

    • SusannahJoy

      Even if we eliminate the risk of diseases though, there’s still other issues. I’m on a medication that they’re only “pretty sure” is safe to take while breastfeeding (to prevent migraines, the last time I got a migraine I thanked the great spaghetti blob that my parents were here because I was in the middle of changing the baby when the room started spinning. There was no way I could’ve picked him up, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to leave him on the changing table where he could’ve fallen off either), and I have a nightly beer. I’m totally ok with this, but other mothers might not be. I can totally see some of them not even telling the person they’re giving the milk to that they’re taking medication because to them it’s so not a big deal, so the other person shouldn’t care, right? And that’s not ok. Milk sharing can be a great thing, but from completely strangers with no screening? I wouldn’t trust it. (and this was way rambly, sorry, sleep deprivation and all)

    • Blueathena623

      Ditto. I’m on an anti-seizure medication that is kinda ok for pregnancy and breastfeeding. I prevented the main birth defects by taking 10mg of folic acid a day, and I continued to take it while breastfeeding because my son was exposed to much higher levels in utero. However, if I had gone stupid or something and breastfeed another kid who WASN’T already used to my medication, the baby could have had a seizure.

    • LET

      All the commentary on this post was referring to communicable diseases when I posted, which is why I posted the way I did.
      To address other issues, there are a lot of food supply issues in the US, and I would personally trust a single source more than a factory farmer or the FDA to share info with me. I totally hate to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but I really don’t think that using another woman’s breast milk after questioning her thoroughly & maybe “pasteurizing” the milk yourself is the kiss of death like many people here are insinuating.
      I think I made it pretty clear that I’m not necessarily advocating it, but I think it could be a carefully considered option. I think you’re always taking a risk outsourcing food.

    • SDA

      Well, screening for diseases doesn’t mean that it is unlikely that a new mother wouldn’t have any, it just means that it is likely they know about it.

    • LET

      I suppose I should have qualified that I think it’s unlikely for a woman to donate knowing she has a communicable disease (though I added a lot of qualifiers to my post because I’m not ignorant enough to think it’s an impossible scenario).

  • Véronique Houde

    It’s just crazy when you think that some women out there think that formula is such junk that they would rather take a risk of their kid getting an incurable disease from a complete stranger they met online through a random star’s blog than feed their child something that has been fed to babies for over 50 years, and hasn’t killed anyone yet… except for in China. All that because they want their child to get the extra anti-bodies?? Sometimes the world makes no sense to me whatsoever. And to insist that the milk come from a vegan. Why, because they’re afraid that if their child drank milk from someone who ingested beef, their baby will start mooing for some cow?

  • kirsten

    I had extra milk and looked to donate. The only way I found (without driving long distances and inconveniencing myself) was through a website like this, yet every site I found seemed so sketchy. The potential recipients I heard from never once asked about my habits or history, and usually had somewhat incredible reasons for why they needed donations. Like “my baby can’t eat anything else”… as though the child’s doctors were seriously saying this kid had a food intolerance and can only eat breastmilk, which we know you can’t supply, so we’ll just leave you to your own devices to find your own online milk donations or let him starve.

    The whole experience reeked of weirdness and irresponsibility.

  • NYCNanny

    This would not be news if it was not vegan. Public view on veganism is SO SCEWED. We are not crazy, we are not stupid, we are not granola hippies who never use soap, we are not irresponsible parents. We just don’t eat or use animal products. We do not add to the environmental pollution and suffering of animals that these products bring. That’s it. Be nice, mommies.

  • Momma425

    What would stop a non-vegan individual from coming to her website and sending one of the moms needing milk some? Or…just because you eat vegan doesn’t necessarily mean that the food you’re eating is healthy and not full of preservatives, sugar, etc… Or doing drugs (isn’t MJ vegan? I think cocane is a plant too…). Or lord only knows what else. Additionally, even if the mom is not behaving deviantly…maybe her husband is haing an affair and is giving her sti’s that now are in her breastmilk?
    I think feeding your child someone else’s potentially dangerous and untested bodily fluids is unsanitary, unhealthy, and really disgusting.
    I didn’t breastfeed and my daughter did great on formula. I fail to understand why someone would go through all the trouble to feed their child a stranger’s untested breastmilk over just using formula. *rolls eyes* Whatever.

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