Perhaps you’ve heard of breast milk banks, but have you heard of breast milk Facebook groups? There are Facebook groups worldwide devoted strictly to donating and receiving breast milk. There are two Columbia-area Facebook groups dedicated to doing the same. We’re here to provide details about these groups and even share stories from current group members who have benefited simply because these groups exist.
Important Disclaimer: Kidding Around provides this article to share these mothers’ stories and for informational purposes about breast milk-sharing groups. Kidding Around does not provide healthcare advice, suggestion, or direction. This is not an endorsement or promotion. Always consult your child’s physician for health care advice and about what to feed your baby.
Mother’s Milk Bank of SC is run by MUSC and provides pasteurized donated breast milk for babies. Check out our article on Mother’s Milk Bank of SC to donate to this bank.
Breast Milk Share: Columbia SC Groups on Social Media
If you search, you’ll find that Facebook breast milk donation groups are everywhere. But not just anyone can access these…including me. The two Columbia-area groups, Breast Milk Donations for Babies in the Carolinas and Human Milk 4 Human Babies – South Carolina are both private groups, meaning any person must be vetted before joining.
Joining a breast milk-sharing group
Both groups require anyone interested in joining to first complete their question and answer section. The administrators of these groups then decide if the individual meets all criteria to join. Once approved, the individual can only then donate and/or receive breast milk.
*Full disclosure, For research purposes I tried joining both of these groups, one successfully, the other…no such luck. These groups are so selective that I was approved membership for one of the groups, yet denied access to the other.
Because I am not currently interested in donating or receiving breast milk, I was unfortunately not granted access to the private group. The reason for my “declined request to join” was the following: “Issue with answers to question. Bystanders don’t really sound like a fit for our group. It’s milk sharing. Peer to peer. Requests and donations.” I, however, respectfully understand their decision and need for their members’ privacy.
Stories of Donors and Recipients
Over the course of my research, I was fortunate enough to have several members of these private breast milk donation groups reach out to tell me their stories. From a group administrator to several donors and recipients, I’m here to share each of their stories and experiences with anyone who’s curious about joining one of these groups.
Breast Milk Group Administrator and Donor
Kristen Killebew is the administrator of Facebook private group, Breast Milk for Babies in the Carolinas. Though she isn’t the original founder of the group, she was passed the reins after answering a call for a new group administrator. Killebrew says she initially joined the private group in 2016, with plans to donate her breast milk to other babies and children in need.
Killebrew’s first experience in breast milk donation began when she answered a milk request for twin babies. “I started donating to a very nice lady who had a set of boy/girl twins when they were fairly young, and donated milk to them until they were weaned,” she says.
The group administrator says groups like hers are invaluable. “I think resources like this are really valuable for parents who are passionate about the benefits of breast milk but are unable to do so for whatever the reason.”
She adds, “Some women are on medication that prevents them from safely giving their littles their breast milk. Others just cannot produce enough milk due to low supply for various reasons.”
Killebrew suggests that many women turn to these breast milk donation groups due to receiving poor breastfeeding support. In turn, she’s just happy to be able to play a small part in successfully providing breast milk to “all the littles” out there. She enthusiastically adds, “I love chunky babies!”
Donor Breast Milk Recipient
Rachel Scarbrough, 29, is a member of both groups, Breast Milk Donations for Babies in the Carolinas and Human Milk 4 Human Babies – South Carolina. She says decided to use donor milk after she was unable to breastfeed her son. “I love these groups because they helped provide milk for my children especially during the formula shortage,” says Scarbrough.
In fact, she has relied on donor breast milk for the past two years for both of her children. “My children are two and one. I decided to use donor breast milk after I was unable to breastfeed my son. I breastfed and supplemented with breast milk with my daughter,” says Scarbrough.
Scarbrough says she has cumulatively received over 5,000 ounces of breast milk over a two-year period. And the good news is, there’s no ceiling when it comes to how much or how long a mother can donate breast milk. “Any donation amount is a blessing. You can be a donor for as long as you would like to pump or donate for,” she says.
Breast Milk Donor and Recipient
Lizzie Dixon, 28, is a member of Facebook group, Human Milk for Human Babies of SC. She says she first learned of breast milk donations when a woman she previously worked with had a devastating late term miscarriage.
“Since her milk came in after delivering her baby, she decided to pump milk to donate to babies in the NICU for a while, rather than just letting her milk dry up. This struck me as so selfless to want to help others that way even in the midst of her loss,” Dixon marveled.
Unbeknownst to her, Dixon would soon find herself on the receiving end of breast milk donation. Shortly after her son was born, he was placed in the NICU. “Due to breathing problems, he received donor milk through his feeding tube until I was able to pump enough for him,” says Dixon.
In addition to being on the receiving end of breast milk, Dixon is also a new breast milk donor. “I donated for the first time this week!,” Dixon exclaims. She says so far she has donated approximately 72 ounces to another local mom who posted that she needed milk due to low supply.
And after a pleasant first experience donating, Dixon says she intends to donate again. “I plan to donate again whenever I have extra milk in the freezer that I am unable to use for my daughter,” she adds.
In the Facebook group Dixon belongs to there are no minimum ounces required to donate. There’s also no particular vetting process or criteria for donating or receiving in this group either. She says she has, however, seen mothers in need of breast milk offer to pay for drug tests for potential donors.
Dixon adds, “Recipients can request donations that meet certain requirements such as dairy free, no medications, etc.”.
Similar to other Facebook breast milk groups, the rules in Dixon’s group for storing breast milk are the same. Freshly expressed or pumped milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, in the freezer for 6 months, and up to 12 months is acceptable especially if stored in a deep freezer, she claims.
There’s no money exchanged in the group in which Dixon belongs. She does say however that other forms of “payment” are acceptable. She clarifies, “The group I’m a part of doesn’t allow compensation aside from replacing storage bags and pump parts for the donor if needed.”
Dixon says she has definite plans to donate breast milk again. She says, “I think it’s a great way for moms to support each other!”
This group has made a lasting effect on Dixon, as she says it feels “really good to be able to help another mom and baby and for my extra milk to not go to waste!”
NICU Breast Milk Recipient
Marisa Beard, 24, is a member of the Breast Milk for Babies in the Carolinas Facebook group. Her first experience with donor breast milk began when donor milk was given to her son in the NICU.
“We had to use donor milk until my supply came in because he was early…my body wasn’t ready yet to make the milk he needed,” she explains.
Beard says her son received 30ml of donated breast milk every three hours for about a week. But Beard says she stopped supplementing with donor milk once her supply came in.
How does someone receive or request donor breast milk in the hospital? Beard says the option was suggested to her because of her strong desire to provide her son
with breast milk versus formula. Beard says, “They knew I was planning on breastfeeding so they asked if it was okay to give him donor milk.”
She recommends donor milk to any mother in a similar situation as her. Beard suggests speaking to lactation consultants should you find yourself not able to produce milk, “I would definitely recommend any mamas to always talk to lactation in the hospital about donor milk and don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice.”
Beard’s positive NICU experience with donor milk has inspired her to become a donor herself. She says once she increases her milk supply, she’ll be donating within her Facebook group Breast Milk for Babies in the Carolinas.
From recipients to donors to mothers of babies in the NICU, these private breast milk Facebook groups have become a haven for a variety of women seeking help. Whether you’re someone with a surplus of breast milk or struggling with your own milk supply, these local breast milk groups open a whole new window of options into a world you may never have known existed until now!