Frequently Asked Questions
If you ever have any questions that are not answered by the FAQ, please contact your local chapter administrator(s).
Q: What is the mission of Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network?
A: The mission of Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network is to promote the nourishment of babies and children around the world with human milk. We are dedicated to fostering community between local families who have chosen to share breastmilk.
Q: What is informed choice?
A: Informed choice is a choice made by competent individuals, free from coercion, that takes into account sufficient information to make a decision. This information should include the benefits and risks of a course of action, as well as taking into account what alternatives are available, and an individual's intuitive feelings on the subject.
Q: How does it work?
* Find your local chapter on Facebook.
* Post on the page if you would like to donate or receive breastmilk. Different communities will use Facebook's features in various ways: some pages use the Wall exclusively, some pages use a third-party forum application, and some pages use a combination of both.
* Talk to other mothers on the Wall and check for reminders posted there.
* If you see a post from someone who is a potential match for you, contact them directly via private message or on the related post. Here are some guidelines for safe social networking.
***It is in the spirit of informed choice that milk sharing on these pages will occur, and all people posting here will take complete responsibility for the outcome of milk sharing.***
Q: What does HM4HB Global NOT do?
* Support or approve of the selling of breastmilk on our network.
* Provide medical advice or clinical care.
* Screen donors or recipients.
* Provide contracts or questionnaires.
* Decide who should receive breastmilk.
* Collect, store or distribute breastmilk.
* Receive money, payment, donations or funding of any kind.
* Reimburse volunteers/supporters.
* Act as mediators or advisors if difficulties or misunderstandings occur between parties.
* Accept liability for the outcomes associated with sharing breastmilk.
* Expect mothers to try to increase their supply in order to donate or receive milk.
Q: What may be expected of me as a donor and/or recipient?
A: Expectations will vary depending on the family shared with and the donor. You can work out the details together until you are satisfied. Openness and honesty is expected, as well as full disclosure, on the part of all parties involved. The principles of informed choice are of utmost importance in the context of peer-to-peer milk sharing.
Q: What if I am unable to reach an agreement with my donor/recipient or I don’t feel comfortable receiving/giving milk?
A: If the recipient does not feel comfortable with their donor, or vice versa, (s)he is under no obligation to participate in milk sharing with that person. Please post on your HM4HB Global chapter to find a more suitable arrangement. HM4HB Global is not responsible for the outcome of any milk sharing arrangements.
Q: What can I do to provide to my baby the safest possible breastmilk?
A: Full disclosure reduces risk. Suggested points of discussion can include medications, alcohol and drug use. In many countries, testing for infectious diseases is done during routine prenatal/antenatal care. You may be able to consult a health care provider to obtain further testing if desired. Some diseases to consider are HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, HTLV, as well as cytomegalovirus (CMV) and tuberculosis. You can ask for copies of those test results.
If you cannot get a complete picture of the health of your donor, one option is to look into at-home pasteurization.
Q: Is it possible to pasteurize breastmilk at home? What pathogens are destroyed by this process?
A: There is a simple, low-tech form of flash pasteurization, called "flash-heating," that can be done on stove-top at home. Research indicates it can destroy a number of pathogens while retaining the greatest amount of beneficial properties of breastmilk when compared with other types of pasteurization. This process can be done by the recipient just prior to feeding the baby. See this straight-forward explanation for a "how-to" on flash-heating.
Q: How (and for how long) can milk be stored?
A: Expressed milk can be stored in various breastmilk containers following the manufacturers' instructions. Noting the date on the container will make sure it is consumed within a safe time frame. Storage times will vary based on where it is stored. This link gives information on storage.
Q:What can I do to reduce the risk of contamination?
A: Whether you are using hand expression, a pump, or wet nursing, your hands and supplies should be clean and dry, and your breasts should also be clean and free of sores or blisters. Your pump manual will have information about how to properly use and clean your pump. For more information on hand expression technique, see this video. Also, this page may also be useful.
Q: My baby is healthy, can I still ask for donor milk?
A: Absolutely. There does not need to be a medical reason for your baby to have breastmilk. Human milk is for human babies and children. The Global network does not prioritize recipients, but simply offers an online space where families can connect and make informed milk sharing choices. You can ask for milk for your child at any time and for any reason, regardless of age.
Q: My baby is 4 months old, can I receive milk from a donor whose baby is 12 months old?
A: As babies grow and mature, their nutritional needs also change. It is therefore ideal for donor breastmilk to either come from a mother whose baby is around the same age or from a mother who pumped when her baby was around that same age. However, as per the World Health Organization's guidelines, in most circumstances human milk is preferable to milk substitutes, even when there is a difference in age.
Q: Do I have to use a bottle to feed my baby donor milk?
A: No, many mothers use an at-the-breast supplementer to feed their babies. This device includes a container attached to a small feeding tube that is either taped to the breast or placed inside the baby's mouth while the baby is latched onto the breast. This allows the baby to receive the donor milk while still stimulating mother's breast and taking in any milk she is making. While this device can be purchased, you can also make your own. Some families use a small cup, a dental syringe, a spoon or other methods.