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Breastfeeding Controversy: Milk Sharing

Spencer Jones

The Other Side of the Nursing Bra
Moms who engage in cross-nursing relish the bonding -- yet this intimacy is why other moms find it a turnoff. In our survey, 45 percent of women said the practice was "disgusting" or "weird," and it bothered them most because "nursing isn't just about nutrition." Thirty six percent said it was a personal experience they wouldn't want to share. "My first reaction is eww! And I'm a breastfeeding advocate," says Erin Acosta of Orange, California. "Barring illness, I can't see myself being okay with it."

While milk sharing is likely to remain controversial, the moms who do it feel doubly rewarded. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Human Lactation found that moms donate milk because their cups runneth over and they want to help other mothers. Says Stiebel, who would share milk again if the need arose, "Moms are moms to everyone's children."

Share Safely

Donate to a bank
If you want to gift your milk, contact the Human Milk Banking Association of North America ( to find a milk bank near you. You and your milk will be screened to ensure safe sharing.

Insist on testing
If you can't get a prescription for a regulated milk bank, you can find donors at Be sure the donor lives healthfully and is tested for HIV, hepatitis, herpes, syphilis, tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, strep, and staph. Never buy milk online -- you can't know if it's safe.

Compare birthdays
When milk sharing, remember that a mom's milk changes over time to match her baby's needs, so it will be best for infants close in age.

Stephanie Wood is the executive editor of Babytalk and a mother of three.