Milk Sharing is Caring

by MarineActivist on December 8, 2016 - 10:04pm

Parents face many pressures when it comes to raising a baby. One challenge may be whether or not to breast feed their newborn. There are many factors that come into play for this decision: how long should we breast feed, am I (the mom) healthy enough to, will I be able to produce enough milk? The article “Contextualizing online human milk sharing: Structural factors and lactation disparity among middle income women in the U.S.” is a fairly short, but fascinating research article stating why women participate in milk sharing through social media.

Many moms log onto Facebook and join groups that help moms obtain breast milk. Unlike milk banks, organizations that filter and pasteurize a woman’s milk for profit, online milk sharing is a non-profit way to help other moms or get help as a mom to help feed their child (Palmquist and Doehler, 2014).

A study was conducted in September 2013-March 2014 to see what factors contributed to the decision for a mom, or set of parents, to partake in online milk sharing either as a donor or recipient. The study used an online survey for English speakers only to assess different aspects of the participant’s social world. The survey included questions about education level, household income, who supported them, lactation histories, and more. The study included 867 participants including 661 donors and 206 recipients (Palmquist and Doehler, 2014).

The results of the study showed that donors typically had a higher education level, higher household income, and more support from various people in their lives than the recipients did. When talking about people who are supporters the survey included people like: their spouses, physicians, and other family or friends. There was little difference between the employment statuses of both donors in recipients in the respect of full-time or part-time employment (Palmquist and Doehler, 2014). The research that was done could have been more rounded out if there were an equal number of donors and recipients participating. It also could have been broader if the survey was translated to more languages. It is somewhat clear that women are more supported if they are the ones donating their milk, not receiving it.Overall, women around the country coming from various backgrounds are all looking for the same thing: to feed their baby genuine human milk. 


For more information go to the full article:

Palmquist, A., & Doehler, K. (2014, October 18). Contextualizing online human milk sharing: Structural factors and lactation disparity among middle income women in the U.S [Electronic version]. Social Science & Medicine, 140-147. doi:


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