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When I first had my daughter, even after I made it through the normal stage of engorgement, I was left with a ridiculous supply of breast milk that was way too much for my daughter to handle. Having an oversupply of milk might sound great but it is definitely not fun.


I would wake up soaked in milk after leaking through two breast pads, a sleeping bra, a t-shirt, and my sheets. I used to shoot milk across the room when my baby would de-latch herself from my overpowering letdown.

In the first few weeks, I pumped a few times for just a few minutes for comfort. I knew not to pump or empty too much because I would only make MORE milk. (Remember: the more you empty the more you make.) I ended up staying home with my girl and never giving her a bottle, leaving me with a small amount from those beginning weeks stashed in my freezer.

I went online and did a bit of research. Through mama to mama donation on Human Milk for Human Babies, I was able to give my milk to a mama in need. She so desperately wanted to give her daughter only breastmilk for her first six months of life and due to a breast reduction, she made very little milk. Even though I only gave her a small amount, it felt amazing to know my milk would be nourishing another little babe. This mom was so grateful and her baby was so sweet!

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The practice of milk donation is very controversial, especially when it’s not done through a milk bank and it’s just mommy to mommy.

In the 1800’s, poorer women nursed other wealthy women’s babies for a living, straight from the breast, because it was seen as unfashionable to nurse your own. Then with the industrial revolution and more women working, lower income families used the rural poor peasants as wet nurses. “Wet nurses” as the norm stopped by the 1900’s because of the invention of formula and bottles. Formula feeding became the norm with the help of marketing and formula companies teaming up with physicians.

Today, with the rise in breastfeeding rates, more and more families are donating breast milk or getting donations of other women’s breast milk. Milk Banks and informal milk donation is the modern day wet nursing, and a way to create sisterhood across the world.

Have you ever thought of donating breast milk or felt curious what it’s all about? Are you a mama in need of breast milk for your baby? Here is some information to help guide and inform you:

1. The World Health Organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Canadian Pediatric Society all mention donor milk as the alternative and next best thing to a newborn having his own mother’s breast milk. “Mother’s own milk is always preferred, in part because some of breastmilk’s beneficial biological components may be reduced after pasteurization. But donor human milk can be an effective alternative when maternal milk isn’t available or falls short of the infant’s needs, according to the AAP.”

2. There are two ways to receive or give breast milk donations:

  • Through a milk bank (either at a hospital or directly from the bank) with a prescription
  • From another mama directly (most often through social media) in Private Arrangement Milk Sharing (PAMS), also called casual sharing.

3. There are many reasons a parent may decide to receive donor breast milk:

  • slow weight gain, weight loss, or failure to thrive
  • breast surgery or mastectomy
  • medical reason that does not allow a mother to make breastmilk or a sufficient amount of breastmilk
  • adopted child
  • premature baby
  • baby does not tolerate formula
  • breastmilk can not be given temporarily (possibly because of a procedure or because of a medication the mama is on)
  • baby needs post-op nutrition
  • immunological deficiencies
  • allergies
  • congenital abnormalities such as cleft lip/palate
  • maternal death

Seen through research and clinical practice, preterm infants fed human milk (including banked donor milk), have better outcomes than when fed formula alone, related to nutritional qualities, digestibility and immunological components of breastmilk. There is a reduction of length of hospital stay, Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC), and sepsis in premies. More and more hospitals worldwide are using donor breastmilk for their sickest and teeniest babes.

Donor milk is often not meant to replace the baby’s own mother’s milk but to complement the mother’s efforts, especially when there is a medical need.

4. Why might a parent choose to donate/receive informally online with a fellow mama? Some moms donate and receive this way because it’s faster. There is no formal interview process or wait time and you can get your milk out or receive it as soon as the recipient or donor mama can come grab it (or you drop it off to her).

Donating or receiving this way will not cost you money. You may even create a life-long bond with the family you are sharing milk with which can be incredibly rewarding and special. And lastly, there will be no risk of losing any of the amazing milk properties in the freezing and pasteurization process done in a bank.

5. Why might a parent choose to donate or receive through Milk Banking?: The Core Curriculum for Lactation Consultant Practice states that, “Donor human milk banking is the process of providing human milk to a recipient other than the donor’s own child. It involves recruiting and screening donors, storing, treating, and screening donated milk, and distributing the milk on physician order.” Going through a milk bank will ensure safety.

6. Screening a donor for a milk bank

When a parent decides to use a milk bank, they will start with a conversation about requirements, type of screening and storage requirements. Next is a screening questionnaire, more detailed set of forms asking about health and lifestyle and consent to contact the mamas and baby’s physicians.

The infant’s doctor is contacted to make sure the donation will not have an adverse effect on the mom’s own child. The donor’s blood is tested for HIV, human T-lymphoma virus (HTLV), hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and syphilis. HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of North America) requires additional serological screening for cytomegalovirus and tuberculosis.

7. Processing and storage of milk at a milk bank

It is extremely important that the milk given out from a bank is treated/pasteurized because most of the milk goes directly to the most fragile of babies who are immunocompromised and whose lives may be dependent on it.

Banks collect, process, screen, store and distribute the milk to individuals who have been prescribed by a licensed practitioner. All donor milk is screened for bacteria and it is refrigerated or frozen until it is dispensed. Freezing, although it preserves most the unique milk properties, does not destroy many of the pathogens. Careful heat treatment is done with Holder Pasteurization preserving as many as the properties as possible

A note on pasteurization: It is a myth that all the best nutrients and “good stuff” is destroyed in this process. Kelly Mom writes, "Pasteurization is a very gentle, controlled heating process using special equipment that kills viruses and bacteria while still maintaining 95% of everything that was originally in the milk.”

8. Safety

Donor milk banks worldwide have shown an incredible safety record and there has never been a recorded case of becoming seriously ill from donor milk received from a recognized bank. However, it is very important to know how a mother is screened and how her breast milk is tested and processed whether you get the milk directly from the mama or if you receive it through a bank.

With informal sharing of milk, straight from another mother, there is no way of being 100% positive you are receiving safe milk—unless you pasteurize the milk yourself, it is not being done. There are possible risks associated with informal sharing such as diluted milk, contamination with pathogens or chemicals (medications), or environmental contaminants. There is the low risk (but risk nonetheless) of disease transfer. And the risk of poor hygiene and improper storage of the milk before it gets to you.

What questions can I ask a mother I am going to receive milk directly from?

Ask for her medical records, if she is on any medications, if she smokes, how she stores and handles her breastmilk and pump equipment, and her alcohol/drug use. You can even go onto the HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of North America) website and use their screening criteria to make sure you ask all the right questions.

Eats on Feets, the first established milk sharing organization, has created four pillars for safety that you should follow:

  1. Informed choice
  2. Donor screening
  3. Safe handling
  4. Home pasteurization.

9. Some women, after the loss of a pregnancy, decide they want to donate their breast milk.

Breast milk will ‘come in’ after the placenta comes out regardless of your baby passing away which is absolutely heartbreaking. Some of these women find comfort to know their milk is nourishing another newborn in need or may feel like it’s their own baby’s gift to another.

10. Breast milk is expensive from a milk bank

Because of the expense of screening donors, processing, dispensing and record keeping, milk banks must charge for their services. Depending on the country you are in and the service setting, the price will vary. In 2013, the price was $5-$6 an ounce, plus the expense of overnight shipping. The donor of the milk to a milk bank does not pay any money. If your baby does not have a medical need, health insurance will not cover the cost of breast milk.

If you receive breast milk privately from a fellow mama, it will depend on the mom whether she wants to ask for compensation or not (hopefully not and if so, you may want to find someone else!) HOWEVER, if you go through the milk sharing established organizations online they are not-for-profit.

A really important part of donation/receiving of breastmilk is that you as the mama make your own informed choice. This topic brings about a lot of ethical questions and concerns. You need to make sure you never feel pressured to donate your milk. Do not let the “yuk-factor” in our society push you away from gaining more knowledge.

Donated breast milk can be lifesaving for sick or premature infants. Stay open-minded and do your research on ALL feeding options and their risks and benefits. If you decide to become a donor, remind yourself that it is something only a mama can do and that you may create a life-long connection with another mama and babe. And that can feel pretty great.

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There are certain moments of parenthood that stay with us forever. The ones that feel a little extra special than the rest. The ones that we always remember, even as time moves forward.

The first day of school will always be one of the most powerful of these experiences.

I love thinking back to my own excitement going through it as a child—the smell of the changing seasons, how excited I was about the new trendy outfit I picked out. And now, I get the joy of watching my children go through the same right of passage.

Keep the memory of this time close with these 10 pictures that you must take on the first day of school so you can remember it forever, mama:

1. Getting on the school bus.

Is there anything more iconic than a school bus when it comes to the first day of school? If your little one is taking the bus, snap a photo of them posed in front of the school bus, walking onto it for the first time, or waving at you through the window as they head off to new adventure.

2. Their feet (and new shoes!)

Getting a new pair of shoes is the quintessential task to prepare for a new school year. These are the shoes that will support them as they learn, play and thrive. Capture the sentimental power of this milestone by taking photos of their shoes. You can get a closeup of your child's feet, or even show them standing next to their previous years of first-day-of-school shoes to show just how much they've grown. If you have multiple children, don't forget to get group shoe photos as well!

3. Posing with their backpack.

Backpacks are a matter of pride for kids so be sure to commemorate the one your child has chosen for the year. Want to get creative? Snap a picture of the backpack leaning against the front door, and then on your child's back as they head out the door.

4. Standing next to a tree or your front door.

Find a place where you can consistently take a photo year after year—a tree, your front door, the school signage—and showcase how much your child is growing by documenting the change each September.

5. Holding a 'first day of school' sign.

Add words to your photo by having your child pose with or next to a sign. Whether it's a creative DIY masterpiece or a simple printout you find online that details their favorites from that year, the beautiful sentiment will be remembered for a lifetime.

6. With their graduating class shirt.

When your child starts school, get a custom-designed shirt with the year your child will graduate high school, or design one yourself with fabric paint (in an 18-year-old size). Have them wear the shirt each year so you can watch them grow into it—and themselves!

Pro tip: Choose a simple color scheme and design that would be easy to recreate if necessary—if your child ends up skipping or repeating a year of school and their graduation date shifts, you can have a new shirt made that can be easily swapped for the original.

7. Post with sidewalk chalk.

Sidewalk chalk never goes out of style and has such a nostalgic quality to it. Let your child draw or write something that represents the start of school, like the date or their teacher, and then have them pose next to (or on top of) their work.

8. In their classroom.

From first letters learned to complicated math concepts mastered, your child's classroom is where the real magic of school happens. Take a few pictures of the space where they'll be spending their time. They will love remembering what everything looked like on the first day, from the decorations on the wall to your child's cubby, locker or desk.

9. With their teacher.

If classrooms are where the magic happens, teachers are the magicians. We wish we remembered every single teach we had, but the truth is that over time, memories fade. Be sure to snap a photo of your child posing with their teacher on the first day of school.

10. With you!

We spend so much time thinking about our children's experience on the first day of school, we forget about the people who have done so much to get them there—us! This is a really big day for you too, mama, so get in that photo! You and your child will treasure it forever.

This article is sponsored by Rack Room Shoes. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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School will be here before we know it, mamas. Which means it's time to take a look in your kid's closet, pull out all those leggings and jeans with holes in the knees and replace them with durable, super cute options... today! Why? Because Prime Day, that's why!

We've been lucky enough to try out Amazon's Spotted Zebra and Look by Crewcuts, and trust us when we say these clothes are quality with a capital "Q." And at these prices, you just might want to stock up on multiple seasons' worth!

From sneakers and sweatshirts to shorts and hoodies, these are the cutest staples at the best prices that you want to take advantage of today!

Amazon Essentials Girls' Long-Sleeve Elastic Waist T-Shirt Dress

Amazon Essentials Dress

Available in seven colorways and sizes 2T to XXL, this dress is the perfect transition piece from summer to fall...just add leggings and she can rock it all winter long, too.

Price: $10.50 (regularly $15.00)

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Spotted Zebra Girls' Toddler & Kids 4-Pack Leggings

Spotted Zebra Legging

Mamas, listen up: We've tried out leggings from many retailers and Spotted Zebra's are among the best. And they come in 18 different patterns/sets.

Price: $10 (regularly $20)

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LOOK by crewcuts Boys' 2-Pack Knit Pull on Shorts

Look Crewcuts Knit Shorts

Cozy shorts for little boys to run around in are imperative for the school year and these ones fit the bill perfectly.

Price: $16.80 (regularly $24)

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Spotted Zebra Kids' 12-Pack Low-Cut Socks

Spotted Zebra Socks

Mamas, if you've got school-age children, then you've also probably got a bin full of random socks. At a buck a pair, this set is well worth it.

Price: $12.60 (regularly $18.00)

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Crocs Kids Bayaband Clog

Crocs Bayaband Clog

No mom has ever regretted buying Crocs for her kids! The easiest shoe to slip on and off chubby feet, Crocs' big rubber toes make them for great scootering and biking.

Price: $18.99 (regularly $34)

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Simple Joys by Carter's Boys' 2-Pack Flat Front Shorts

Carters Shorts

For the days when you want him to look a bit crisper, this two-pack of flat-front chino-esque shorts will do nicely.

Price: $16.75 (regularly $23.99)

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Spotted Zebra Boys' 2-Pack Light-Weight Hooded Long-Sleeve T-Shirts

spotted zebra

You can never have too many lightweight long-sleeve shirts for your kids, and we love the hoods and patterns/colors on these.

Price: $15.40 (regularly $22.50)

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PUMA Kids' St Runner Velcro Sneaker

Puma Velcro Sneaker

Available in 12 colors for girls and boys, these sneakers are perfect for pre-K and young elementary school kids who haven't quite learned how to tie their own laces yet.

Price: $17.49 (regularly $40)

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LOOK by crewcuts Girls' Lightweight Cat-ear Hoodie

Look Crewcuts Cat Hoodie

This hoodie is going to be their new fave when the school year rolls around.

Price: $18.20 (regularly $26)

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Spotted Zebra Girls' Toddler & Kids 2-Pack Knit Sleeveless Tiered Dresses

Spotted Zebra Dress

Even if your girl is going through a no-dresses phase, we're pretty sure she'll love this for two reasons. One, it's SO twirly, whirly, perfect for spinning around (and around and around). And two, she's going to love the bright blocked colors.

Price: $16.80 (regularly $26.80)

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Starter Boys' Pullover Logo Hoodie

starter hoodie

Perfect for throwing on after a baseball game or on the walk to school when the temps start dipping again.

Price: $13.94 (regularly $19.99)

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UOVO Boys Running Shoes

Uovo Boys Running Shoe

UOVO's running shoes are about as durable as they come thanks to rubberized finishes that mean you can wipe stains (grass! mud!) right off. Also available in orange at this price.

Price: $23.64 (regularly $42.99)

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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[Editor's note: This article describes one parent's experience with bed-sharing. To learn more about the American Academy of Pediatrics safe sleep recommendations please visit the AAP.]

Raise your hand if you've ever found yourself asleep with your child next to you in bed. (🙋🏽♀️)While the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends room-sharing, they discourage bed-sharing, particularly in the first four months of a baby's life, due to safety concerns.

But the reality is that many parents fall asleep with their babies next to them in bed. Whether it's because your baby won't sleep without those cuddles, because you've drifted off while nursing, because you didn't have the heart to put a sick baby in their crib, or because your doctor has given you the okay to snooze alongside your babe, bed-sharing is very much a thing.

And Tia Mowry is getting real about her experience with it.

When asked about her most "non-traditional" parenting move, Tia shared that she's a big-time bed-sharer. "My 1-year-old [daughter, Cairo] is still in my bed," the actress said during an interview with PEOPLE. "Ever since she was born she was always in our bed." But this isn't her first experience with co-sleeping: Tia also shared that she slept with her son until he was 4 years old.

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Tia is hardly alone when it comes to sleeping with her kids. A 2016 study found that only about 44% of survey responders never slept with their babies in bed with them—and that those who slept with their babies were more likely to keep breastfeeding for the recommended six months. Fellow celeb Kourtney Kardashian is a co-sleeper, and many mamas find that while they didn't plan to co-sleep, it is what works for them. That's why there are even special co-sleeping beds big enough for parents and kids.

But as popular as co-sleeping is, it can still be seen as controversial. Even Tia's own mom isn't on board with the Sister Sister star's decision to bed-share with her kids. "[My mom is] like, 'You need to do the cry-out method. Put your baby in the crib. And I'm like, 'No!' I don't want my baby to have any sign of stress whatsoever," Tia explains.

Whichever side of the line you fall on, one thing is clear: Sometimes parents need to do things they never expected to do in the name of more sleep. When it comes to parenting, there's only one absolute: You have to do what keeps your family safe, healthy and happy. And while we'd urge all mamas to familiarize themselves with child safety guidelines, ultimately we all have to make the choices that are best for our families.

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If you're not familiar with Hanna Andersson, let me fill you in. This brand is the mothership when it comes to quality organic kids' clothing. Started more than 30 years ago by a couple in Portland, Oregon, founders Gun and Tom Denhart (she's Swedish, he's American) set out to make highly-durable, supremely-soft basics and pajamas for children, all of which are OEKO-TEX-certified.

As a mom to four kids, hand-me-downs are king in my household. Many a time I have shelled out for cheap stuff, but when it can't last for more than one child's use, it's simply not worth the investment. Which is why I'm a huge devotee of Hanna A. Five years ago, I splurged on the famous Christmas pajamas for the whole family and I'm not lying when I say that after hundreds of times through the washer and dryer, my baby will be the fourth kid rocking the 3T sleeper this holiday season. No rips, no shredded seams. Still 100% intact and soft and thick. But all that quality comes at a price—one pair of pajamas costs between $38 and $45.

Which is why I nearly did a backflip when I saw that Amazon was launching an exclusive collection dubbed Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson, chock full of the pajamas I've come to love so much, albeit at a much lower price!

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Available in a slew of adorable patterns (Stripes! Stars!), really all I wanted to know was if the quality was the same. After all, a sleeper on Hanna Andersson will run you $38, but Moon and Back is offering a nearly-identical one for $17.50 today on Prime Day. That's less than half the price, mamas.

After multiple wears and washes, I'm here to say that Amazon's promise of hand-me-down quality holds true. Made from a similar soft, OEKO-TEX-certified organic cotton, the items I tested (er, my kiddos tested lol), featured the same design details I so appreciate—like a knee-to-neck zipper, smooth flat-lock seams and foldover sleeve cuffs.

The best part is that as of today—Prime Day!—the entire collection is now officially available in sizes newborn to 5T, and the pajamas are all 30 percent off!

Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson One-Piece Organic Cotton Footless Pajamas

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson Two-Piece Organic Cotton Pajama Set

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson One-Piece Organic Cotton Footed Pajama

Sale price: $17.50 (Regularly $25)

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson 3-Pack Organic Cotton Long Sleeve Bodysuit

Price: $35

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Moon and Back by Hanna Andersson 3-Pack Organic Cotton Legging

Price: $33

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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It's officially a sale bonanza, mamas! In addition to Amazon's 48-hours of Prime Day markdowns, Target has joined the fray and is also offering major discounts this Monday and Tuesday via its Deal Days, Walmart is offering up Deal Days, and let's not forget the Nordstrom Anniversary pre-sale is happening, too!)

Target's biggest sale of the summer is on our radar for a couple reasons. For one, unlike Prime Day, you don't have to have a membership with the retails to score the discounts. Secondly, once you've ordered a product you can select to pick it up same day at your nearest store. (Have the Target app? From there you can even choose "drive up" and pickup up your loot curbside—without even getting the kids out of their car seats!)

But the deals don't stop at Target, so we hit up a slew of other retailers to find the best deals you can get today..you know the ones that aren't available over at Amazon. Because it's all about scoring the biggest discount possible, right? Right!

Whether you're stocking up on back-to-school supplies, investing in baby gear or just need to replenish your everyday home items, these are the products you want to scoop up this week.

Other

Boxed: Up to 50% off Prince & Spring toilet paper (use code TPPARTY), 20% off kitchen gadgets and tools, up to 20% off snacks, home goods, and school supplies

Best Buy: Flash sale across the site—from appliances to tech

Macys: Black Friday in July sales, including an extra 25% off select departments

TJ Maxx: Summer clearance event with savings that only happen twice a year

Dick's Sporting Goods: $20 off your order of $100+

Carter's: Summer cyber sale, entire site 55% off or more

Williams Sonoma: Friends and family sale, 20% off your order and free fast shipping with code FRIENDS

Gap: Up to 50% off sitewide

Old Navy: 50% off sitewide and free shipping

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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