Special Report: Milk Sharing

 "What was very difficult was going to the doctor when he was two weeks old and the doctor telling me basically that I was starving my child because he'd lost so much weight," said Angie.

Bowling Green, Ky. (WBKO) - When Angie Doss found out she was pregnant with her son, Sam, it was a blessing.

"We prayed for him for almost three years and had a hard time having him and we were very excited when we found out we were pregnant. He's just an amazing baby," said Angie.

Angie researched the benefits of breast feeding and knew that's what she wanted for Sam.

"I was not breast fed as a baby, but my younger sisters were and I was in and out of the hospital as a kid, always sick, always had pneumonia or bronchitis, every germ that hit the school I got it. I was always sick and my sisters... rarely sick," said Angie.

After trying to breast feed, Angie realized she couldn't produce enough milk for her baby.

"What was very difficult was going to the doctor when he was two weeks old and the doctor telling me basically that I was starving my child because he'd lost so much weight," said Angie.

She heard about milk sharing where mothers donate their breast milk.

Angie studied the practice and soon found donors she approved of.

"These are moms that have kids and they demonstrate how much they care for their kids. They're feeding this milk to their kids," said Angie.

Eats on Feets is an on-line group that provides a forum for parents to communicate. They have tips for safe breast milk sharing. The first is informed choice: "There are risks for feeding an infant outside of the mother's breast directly, so anything else whether it's formula or whether it's donor milk, anything else is going to carry risks with it," said Diane Acuña, an administrator with Eats on Feets.

The second is donor screening, which could include her lifestyle, diet, and health. "We believe that families are capable of deciding how to screen, what to screen for, they can handle that on their own," said Acuña.

The last two are safe handling and home pasteurization.

If you don't feel comfortable with milk sharing there are other alternatives to formula.

Susan Brown, a certified lactation consultant with the Barren River District Health Department, says moms can discuss the problems they're having with their doctor and possibly get a prescription to receive donor milk from a milk bank.

"Moms who donate their milk, the key word there is donate, they donate the milk, these moms are screened before their milk is ever accepted and they are screened not only medically, but socially. Their blood is drawn to make sure it's safe and when the milk is received it's tested, it's then pasteurized, and it's retested before it's ever sent to the recipient," said Brown.

There is a small fee to receive milk from a milk bank to cover the cost of the screening, the pasteurizing, and the shipping. As for Angie, she plans to have Sam on donor milk until his first birthday.

"We all have the same goal in mind. We want to raise healthy babies, raise them to be healthy kids, healthy adults that are going to do good for our world, so we all have a common goal," said Angie.

Brown says to use caution when someone is charging for breast milk. She also recommends going to a breast feeding class, calling for extra help while you're in the hospital, and even asking for advice from a lactation consultant when you're at home.

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