My first child’s first food, as a newborn, was donated breast milk, and I’ll always be grateful she had such a great first start. Huge gratitude to that generous woman in the ” breastfeeding room” of the hospital; she sat there pumping her milk into little plastic bottles that went into the fridge there for the use of whoever needed it.  It took me a couple of weeks to get my proper flow going.

This is a thrilling story, the first Human Baby Milk Bank in North India.

It’s a great story of baby’s lives being saved, breast milk as not only nutritious food but essentially medical as well, and an important part of fighting child mortality.  In India they are looking to Brazil, which “today has more than 200 human milk banks – more than anywhere else in the world. As well as banks, Brazil’s strategy also includes innovative measures like training postmen to provide information on breastfeeding to pregnant women and using fire-fighters to collect surplus milk for donation from lactating women.”

What happy news!  Read about innovative strategies in Brazil here— breastmilk an important resource and something to share, not sell.

I’m happy with the detail too that women are donating their lactated milk into a system of sharing that benefits all, rather than selling or commodifying it in any way (at least in Brazil, not sure of this from the piece about India).

Having said that, I’m sure there are times and circumstances in which being able to buy and sell breastmilk is important to women, perhaps economically and in other ways as well.  I don’t want to make blanket assumptions, buying and selling could be awful, could be great.

(Here’s a link to a book called A Social History of Wet Nursing in America, which I’d like to read. )

I wonder if in Brazil this is part of the Zero Hunger Program that looks upon food as a human right.  I’ve been meaning to share this piece about how we can learn from Brazil’s fight again food insecurity.

Years ago (20?) I read a very deep book called Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil, by Nancy Scheper-Hughes.  One aspect I remember is a discussion of how particulars of discourse of the medical services they’d have access to, in a very poor part of Brazil,  affected women who would lose their babies to illness and death and create a self-blame culture.  They took on the idea that the death of their babes was inevitable, fated.  It seems like things have changed…

Breastmilk.  A slow food, a traditional food, a ritual food.  Not a commodity.  The most perfectly suited, the most delicious, the most pro-immune and pro-biotic.  And meal time is about LOVE and closeness.

Hey Lactating Ladies, if you are in the UK, maybe you can donate some milk here.

Here’s Human Milk Banking of North America.

Wherever you are reading from,  perhaps there is something happening? Or YOU could make it happen?

PS I’m still lovin’ the Pope for defending that woman nursing in public, just before Christmas.