September 24 to 30 is World Milksharing Week and this year’s theme is “Sharing Milk, Nurturing Community.” If you are unfamiliar with the concept, milksharing, simply put, is the sharing of breastmilk from one mother (the donor) to another mother and her child (the recipients). This is based on the belief that “all babies and children have the right to receive human milk”.
World Milksharing Week was launched last year and is held annually every last week of September. According to its official website, its goal is “to celebrate milksharing and to promote human milk as the biologically-normal nourishment for babies and children.”
The organizers of the event hope that “by raising awareness about milksharing, families will never again feel forced into feeding breastmilk substitutes — an act which is not without risk to the health of the child. The incredible sense of community that is created among donor and recipient families who partake in milksharing is to be celebrated.”
Locally, milksharing is not very well-known among Filipino communities, although many breastfeeding groups and advocates are trying to change that. In fact, one of the reasons why many breastfeeding advocates are against the Monster Milk Bill is because it proposes to allow milk companies donate their products in times of disaster, such as typhoons, floods and earthquakes. Ironically, these are the times when breastmilk is most needed and is actually the safest food mothers can give to their children.
However, even during “normal” times, it should be noted that breastfeeding and milksharing in particular still saves many babies’ lives, especially those confined in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU)of hospitals.