The first priority of LLLI is to help mothers to breastfeed their babies at the breast. A second priority is to help mothers when it is necessary for them to express and safely store and handle their own milk for their babies. When their own mother’s milk is unavailable, babies may need human milk donated by other mothers. According to the World Health Organization, donor milk is the best option following one’s own expressed milk.

It is always important for the Leader to encourage the mother to talk with her own and the baby’s health care providers about their particular situation. If the baby or mother is hospitalized and breastfeeding is not possible, the Leader would recommend that the mother dialogue with medical staff regarding possible hospital policies related to obtaining and using the mother’s own milk or donor milk.

When a mother contacts a Leader seeking to acquire donated milk or to discuss personal options, the Leader’s role is to respond with information and support, including information about the benefits and risks of such practices as induced lactation, relactation, wet-nursing, or cross-nursing. This discussion may include formal, commercial, or informal (peer-to-peer) forms of milk sharing, which are practiced in various ways around the world.

If a mother is interested in donating her milk or in receiving donated milk, the Leader should urge the mother to investigate various ways of donating and acquiring human milk. The mother should be encouraged to make an informed decision that is best for her and her baby and meets cultural expectations. A Leader may provide contact information for non-profit human milk banks, other regulated collection centers, and formal/medically supervised or informal milk-sharing networks. Protocols for the careful and safe collection and handling of human milk are the responsibility of milk banks and networks, and the Leader should encourage the mother to evaluate these protocols. It is not the responsibility of LLL Leaders or LLLI to license, recommend, or assess milk banks or networks, but to share information with mothers.

A Leader should never use her position as an LLL Leader to set up any type of milk-sharing network.

As with other breastfeeding-related topics, Leaders are expected to keep up-to-date with current best practices and information for their locations.

(Aug 76; rev Oct 92, Mar 07, Mar 11, Mar 15)