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Breastfeeding, Breast milk, Human milk, Infant nutrition science, Milk expression



  1. Martino, Kimberly BS
  2. Spatz, Diane PhD, RN-BC, FAAN


Abstract: Human milk is the ideal food for human infants. However, some infants will be in situations wherein there is insufficient human milk to meet their needs. This article addresses formal breast milk donation (donor milk) and informal sharing of breast milk. Healthcare providers are likely to encounter families who access milk by informal breast milk sharing or cross-nursing. Both practices rely heavily on receiving human milk from women who are potentially unscreened for disease, medication, and illicit substances. Therefore, it is important for perinatal nurses to have adequate information to be able to inform these families of the risks and benefits of breast milk sharing. Two case exemplars are provided to illustrate the nuances of informal milk sharing. Implications for practice include providing families with information on health history and laboratory screening as well as safe milk-handling practices.