NEW YORK, NY --For new moms, the pressure to give their children the best nutrition possible can be overwhelming. Many are told they should breast feed, but for some, that isn't possible.
Now, a new program called milk sharing has proven to be the answer for mothers like Caryn Ipapo.
At 28, Caryn had a preventative double mastectomy after test results showed she had a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. But when her son Jason was born, he had an adverse reaction to baby formula.
Caryn and her wife Aimee were desperate to find a way to feed their newborn, so they reached out on Facebook. Within hours, they were contacted by Jonelle Myers McFarlane.
Jonelle had an oversupply of breast milk to donate to the new mothers.
"I can always make more," she said. "I can pump more, and there are babies who need it."
According to The Journal of Prenatal Education, the practice of using a wet nurse was common before the introduction of the feeding bottle and formula. But in the age of the internet, mothers are turning to strangers via social media or online breast feeding groups.
The FDA does recommend against this type of milk sharing, saying the donors and milk haven't been properly screened for infectious disease or contamination. It recommends another option: milk banks.
The Mother's Milk Bank focuses on helping premature babies, but they also help mothers like Caryn. A prescription is needed and there is a price tag of nearly $3 an ounce, but for many, the price pales in comparison to the benefits.
For now, Caryn and Aimee will continue to use Jonelle, a mother they trust, to provide the precious nutrition their son needs.
"It's a special relationship that can only be had with a limited amount of people," Jonelle said.
In the end, it's really a matter of personal preference, what the mother feels comfortable with.
In both situations, whether its a local breast feeding group or a milk bank, the donors give their milk voluntarily.