Friday, November 12, 2010

Eats on Feets - Online Milk sharing page gets a head start

Source: The Amigoe
Edition: November 12th 2010
Author: Mirte De Rozario

Oranjestad - A mother in urgent need of breast milk because she accidentally spills her 7 ounce (200 ml) supply of expressed milk, was helped to fill that need in 13 minutes via the online milk sharing page "Eats on Feets." Because of the quick response, the mother did not have to supplement with formula. Wendy Maduro leads the chapter in Aruba that was started just this week on Facebook.

And yet, Eats on Feets is not just an Aruban network. Maduro, who is a board member of Pro Lechi Mama (Aruba's non-profit breastfeeding organization) requested to lead Aruba's chapter in response to a Global movement that strives to match human milk requests to donations of such.

This worldwide initiative, Eats on Feets Global, was started up by Canadian Emma Kwasnica. This breastfeeding advocate was spurred on to action after it became known that a new line of artificial baby milk was to come on the market. In opposition of this developing story, Kwasnica decided to create an online page on Facebook where moms could make informed choices about milk sharing between each other. The name :Eats on Feets" came from an American midwife who'd thought up the name. In the blink of an eye, Eats on Feets exploded in other lands. There are about 87 local chapters in 18+ countries.

Supply and Demand
Aruba's own local chapter on Facebook got its start this week. "The idea is simple", says Maduro, "You can compare it to Aruba Match, but then specifically for mothers who breastfeed. Mothers who breastfeed usually pump and thus build up a stash in their freezer, especially when they have a copious production. Those who've accumulated a reserve may decide to share this with another mother who may be in need for human milk but may not have access to it. Before, a mother may have had to supplement with formula, but with Eats on Feets, that's not necessary anymore."
Wednesday past, was the success of Eats on Feets clearly visible. Maduro put out an urgent call on Facebook for 7 ounces of breastmilk for a mom in dire need of it. Within 13 minutes, the need was filled, so revealed a post on Facebook from Maduro.
"I got a response from a mother whom I know, that she was able and willing to donate the amount that was needed." In this instance, PLM picked up the donated breastmilk and brought it to the recipient because of necessity. But in actuality, the parties involved are asked to make arrangements amongst themselves."
Maduro goes on to say that this same urgent call for human milk brought in a flood of responses. Maduro emphasizes though that she personally knew this mother and knew that she was healthy and had good quality milk. "Because otherwise I would not have facilitated the milk donation. As a mother who uses milk from another mother, you want to be careful and avoid the potential risk of giving your baby milk from a mother who may have a communicable disease."
She also mentioned and example of another donating mother.* "I was approached by an American tourist who was familiar with Eats on Feets and was who a regular donor of mother's milk. She was vacationing on Aruba and couldn't bring her expressed breast milk back to the States with her, and she asked me to find a baby on Aruba who was in need of human milk. That is exactly what Eats on Feets has as its mission. Mothers who milk share who can establish contact and fill the need either of a donation or request here on Facebook."

Chapter leader of Aruba's Eats on Feets page highlights that this initiative is free, that has as its only goal to provide a means, a space, where moms can meet each other. Where the health status of the donating mother is concerned, each recipient and donator is responsible for this individually. "On every Eats on Feets page, whichever land it may be, there is access to references and additional information for all interested about the risks and personal responsibility that each mother takes upon herself when she shares milk. I encourage all who are interested in this movement, whether you are a donor or a recipient, to inform yourself and know your source." Maduro goes on to explain what she advises mothers who are searching for a donation of maternal milk to do. "If when you put in a request and you get a match for a donor that you're personally familiar with, then usually there's no problem and you can choose to accept the milk without much ado. But if a recipient is not familiar with the donating mother, then, the mother at the receiving end may choose to ask that the mother at the donating end have the appropriate blood tests done to verify that she is in good health and that her milk is safe."

Facebook is a social networking site that allows an individual to choose how much personal information he puts out there. To maintain the relative privacy of Eats on Feets, each chapter understand and acknowledges that all those interested in donating/receiving is encouraged to post on their local page but that further arrangements be made between themselves. For more information on the guidelines of the page, visit your local chapter's page, Eats on Feets ~ Aruba. Since the opening of the chapter the beginning of this week, there has been  about 40 'likes' so far.

Footnote: The milk donation facilitated earlier this year by Pro Lechi Mama's Wendy Maduro was not established through "Eats on Feets Global". This donation came about by Aruban Breastfeeding Mamas' Facebook page , where Wendy was subsequently contacted by the donating mother before her trip to Aruba. Footnote my own 

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