Alicia Silverston

The value of milk sharing

A Wendy Williams column in the tabloid publication Life & Style Weekly has compared Alicia Silverstone’s milk-sharing program to slave wet nurses in the olden days.

Is she right, or did they forget to edit the column before it was published?

Alicia Silverstone recently started a family-to-family milk-share program on her blog, encouraging moms who had a need of breast milk for their baby to find moms who have milk to spare. Unofficial sharing programs are nothing new, however — the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network has been connecting moms in need with moms with extra milk for a few years now, and moms have been shipping their excess ounces to milk banks for even longer than that. However, Alicia’s celebrity status makes her a target, and Wendy Williams chose to not only ridicule Alicia’s efforts, but milk sharing in general, and most feel that the magazine made a major error by publishing it.

Milk sharing: Old-fashioned?

The photo of Alicia Silverstone, which rapidly went viral after being shared on the Unlatched Facebook page, accompanies a couple of sentences that equates milk sharing with slave wet nurses and the Civil War. “It’s 2013!” it exclaims.

Alicia Silverstone Milk Sharing Program

The problem with that mindset is that milk sharing is not only a valuable resource for moms who have trouble producing breast milk, but it is also a vital necessity for some babies. For example, The Human Milk Bank Association of North America coordinates breast milk donation for use by premature infants whose lives depend on it.

Jessica, the mom behind The Leaky Boob, a popular Facebook page and blog, stressed the importance of breast milk donation and was discouraged by the attitude Wendy Williams, and by default the magazine, portrayed. “Done well, done safely, breast milk donation saves lives,” she explained. “The Human Milk Bank Association of North America screens qualified donor mothers and pasteurizes the milk to feed the most fragile of infants through milk banks around North America. For susceptible infants at risk of infection, necrotizing enterocolitis, and more, donated breast milk can be lifesaving.”

Breast milk donation is, and always should be, an important option for all mothers. “I'm appalled that they allowed such ignorance to be published,” said Brittney, mother of two. “Another mom's milk is still far superior to formula, and making good choices for your baby should not be ridiculed. The World Health Organization even recommends donor milk before formula.”

Rachelle, the owner of Unlatched, couldn’t believe the fact that Williams equated milk sharing to slavery. “I assume this was done to make Silverstone's wonderful idea look negative, but it just shows how ignorant this author really is,” she shared. “African-American breastfeeding rates are extremely low, in part to that time in history, and comments of this nature are not supportive or positive — and are actually quite damaging to efforts to get more African-American mothers to breastfeed their children.”

Media irresponsibility

The tidbit in question was written by Wendy Williams, an American media personality who hosts a syndicated radio talk show called The Wendy Williams Show. Regardless of how Wendy really feels, most believe that Life & Style Weekly made the wrong move when they printed the offending piece.

"This is an example of what happens when media doesn't use its voice constructively."

”Even though this is a quote from Wendy Williams, it was irresponsible of them to print it,” Jamie Grayson, better known as The Baby Guy, told us. “We are a society that learns and absorbs what the media presents to us — good or bad. This is an example of what happens when media doesn't use its voice constructively.”

Jessica agreed, and felt that while Alicia is an easy target because she is in the public eye, there is another facet to the issue that should be explored. “To me the controversy here isn't sharing breast milk or that a celebrity would want to do so, the controversy is that we have placed such an over-emphasis on the slighter sexual nature of the human female breast rather than the nutritive nature and strayed so far from our own natural response to help another human being that even suggesting donating breast milk or feeding another mother's hungry baby could be viewed as scandalous,” she shared.

Be heard

You can contact Life & Style Weekly at contactus@Lifeandstylemag.com, or take this to social media and tweet them @Life_and_style.

Breastfeeding advocates hope that this little blurb doesn’t damage the perception of milk sharing for moms who could really benefit from donated milk. This would be the worst outcome, as Jessica explained. “The real scandal is that mothers could have something that could save the lives of babies and wouldn't share it,” she said.

Image credit: WENN

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Comments

Comments on "Alicia Silverstone's milk-sharing program compared to slavery"

kushla July 19, 2013 | 10:35 PM

This is so primitive, uninformed, uneducated and arrogant piece of "journalism"....shame on Wendy, and the magazine. It reminded me if the mid 20th century when medical experts professed formula to be better for the baby! Lol, so glad people are catching up with the evidence, but going further still to ensure all caring mother's have the opportunity to make the best choices for their baby, even if physically they can't meet that need. Well done!

Aaron July 18, 2013 | 8:18 PM

When people get disgusted over "another humans" milk being fed to their child, why are they OK with cows milk/goats milk? Why do people forget that humans are just very well evolved animals themselves? And, why do the people against it NEED to put it out there that for whatever reason they find it gross? Don't do it then. But, please don't put down the parents that do. My child, my choice. Formula, my breast milk, or milk bank donation. As long as it isn't poison all us Mothers need to hear is "good job, you're child is thriving".

jill July 18, 2013 | 5:44 PM

Thank you for providing an educated view on this subject. If this blurb from a trash magazine has turned even one woman away from the help she might need, it was a crime. @Melissa P I don't think anyone would say that babies need breastmilk to survive. It is absolutely the best thing for your baby but it is unlikely that you were in a hospital or an area that provided the option to have breastmilk for your preemie. Don't ever take "breast is best" as a judgement.

Melissa P July 18, 2013 | 1:53 PM

I would just like to say that as a mom to a baby who was a micro-preemie (born at 25 weeks), breast milk is NOT necessary for them to survive. While it may be the best option, my baby did just fine on the high calorie formula with vitamins. I can honestly say that I don't think I would have been comfortable having someone else's milk fed to my child.

Mia July 18, 2013 | 12:37 PM

The history of it is true, but so what? If it can help someone especially a baby thrive, then as now its a good thing.

Christy H July 17, 2013 | 6:06 PM

I agree with you Sara P, it is a kind and thoughtful act that is only beneficial to the babies that are getting the nutrients they need. Comparing it to slavery or insinuating that it's some kind of faux pas is immature and gossipy. The women that are doing it are obviously grounded in what's important for their babies which is more than can be said for Wendy Williams, mothers who have their children's best interest at heart really don't need to be mocked for trying to be a good parent.

Sara P July 17, 2013 | 12:41 PM

I actually really love Alicia's milk-sharing program and tend to often think of breastmilk as liquid-gold. It truly is a miracle liquid and I don't understand why some people would be against this. Sure, it isn't ideal because it is coming from another mother, but it is still nutritious and beneficial for baby. Let's put the baby's needs first, please!

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