Celebrity mom Alicia Silverstone is in the news again, this time for a new endeavor on her website about healthy, plant-based (vegan) lifestyle, The Kind Life. Silverstone has added a section to her site for readers and fans to informally share and receive breastmilk.
Informal milkshare is certainly nothing new–many of us know about organizations like Eats on Feets and Human Milk 4 Human Babies, both of which have ways for moms to indicate things like dairy-free diets or even whether the milk is coming from a vegan mother. Silverstone’s forum takes that sort of classification or screening step out of the equation for mothers seeking this sort of milk for their babies–if a woman is offering her milk on the Kind Life milkshare, the assumption is that the mother already leads a vegan lifestyle.
But that’s not all–Silverstone’s website is not just about eschewing animal products. I am not a vegan, but I spoke to a vegan nursing mama about Silverstone’s milkshare. Sara explained it’s very possible for vegans to eat unhealthy diets heavy on fried, processed, fatty foods just like meat eaters. Kind Life community members view food as health and are very conscious about all aspects of their diet, in addition to other products they use or avoid around their households. Sara points out that she herself, while making healthy choices and feeling informed about nutrition, is not a “poster child for healthy eating,” and questions whether a very health-conscious vegan mama would even want her vegan milk. “Said vegan might have a better chance of finding a like-minded vegan milk donor through Silverstone’s site than through other places.”
Basically, Kind Mama Milkshare connects mothers of similar lifestyle.
News of Silverstone’s milkshare has been circulating the Internet and also morning talk shows. There seems to be a theme among the news programs where anchors fault Silverstone for not screening or pasteurizing the milk, but my impression is that Silverstone doesn’t ever see or contact the milk or donors. She is merely providing the forum on her website for the mothers to connect and make their own arrangements.
Overall, I’ve been impressed by the conversation surrounding donor breastmilk. Good Morning America, in particular, brought on senior medical contributor Dr. Jen Ashton to tell the other anchors to stop acting silly and squeamish about shared milk.
Of course, Ashton is required to specify that informal milkshare does not screen or pasteurize milk and that formally banked milk is the healthiest choice for babies who can’t drink their own mother’s milk. But she definitely emphasized that human breastmilk is the ideal food for human babies and even compared the practice of milk banking to modern wet nursing.
I loved how Ashton talked about the importance of supporting mothers and of supporting choices while also providing education about donated milk as a wonderful option for babies. I think the publicity about milk sharing is great. Four years into my nursing journey, I feel like so much of this stuff is old news, but many mamas don’t realize they have options out there for feeding their babies human milk.
Have you used an informal milkshare program? Leave us a comment to share your experiences.