My first experience with milksharing happened over two years ago when my son was about 5 months old. I had to attend a full day course that wasn't practical to bring my baby with me. At 5 months old, my son was still fully breastfed. I didn't want to give him formula for the day and as much as I tried to express breastmilk, my breasts just didn't respond to the pump. What was I going to do?
I asked a number of friends if any of them were happy to look after my son and if it was possible for them to breastfeed him when he was hungry or needed comfort. Much to my relief, a number of them said yes!
On the day, they all gathered at Emma's house and nurtured and fed my son at their own breast. It made it so much easier to know he was being cared for by my community of women. I thought I might feel weird seeing someone else feed my child but I didn't. I stopped in at lunch to feed him myself and one of the mums had just put him on to breastfeed. It was heartwarming to see him being cradled in her arms the same as I would and I knew he was ok.
A few months later I saw a new page on facebook called Eats on Feets that a number of my friends had liked. I checked it out and found a page that allowed mums who had extra breastmilk to connect with families who were looking for breastmilk for their own child. I knew of a mum up in Qld who had birthed premmie twin boys and was looking for donor milk for them. Through the SA page, I organised 10L of milk from generous mums around Adelaide and with the help of another friend we arranged for the frozen milk to be air-freighted up to Qld - you can read the other side of their story here.
My involvement with this milksharing network changed shortly after as I become a volunteer co-administrator of the South Australian chapter. We have since changed names to Human Milk 4 Human Babies and our page is growing bigger every day as more and more families learn about this option available to them. At the end of September we celebrated the 2nd annual World Milksharing Week with a picnic in the park. I got to meet donors and recipients who had forged friendships through the gift of breastmilk and we even made the news.
Through HM4HB I have met other administrators online from all over the world, each with unique gifts to share and who graciously donate their time to keep the pages running smoothly. I have learnt about breastmilk and breastfeeding, parenting and friendship, business and health. I have become a postnatal doula and placenta encapsulator to support other women in my community and it all started with information shared through this amazing network of admins. For that I will be forever greatful.
You can join the South Australian chapter of HM4HB on facebook https://www.facebook.com/HM4HBsa
Kelly Harper was interviewed by Channel 9 about milksharing and Human Milk for Human Babies in Adelaide.
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Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.