Hawaii moms find breast milk donations, support online

Breast milk sharing for Hawaii babies
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some Hawaii mothers are turning to the internet to share breast milk for babies.

There are several sites that help to connect women in need with donors.

Lourdes Camarillo started giving away her extra breast milk four months ago to other moms she met through an online network.

"My freezer was filling up. My deep freezer filled up completely. I think in a matter of two weeks, that thing was full," explained Camarillo.

One of the women she helps is Samantha Barron. The mother of two stopped breastfeeding her older son, Xander, after three months because she couldn't produce enough milk.

"I did go to many lactation consultations. I rented breast pumps and nothing really worked," explained the Waipio resident.

After the birth of her second son, Jax, Barron turned to milk sharing to supplement her low supply. She admits she was skeptical at first, and she questioned donors about any drug or alcohol use.

"My only concern was she was a stranger, so I just wasn't sure exactly what to expect," Barron said.

Kimetha Matthews has donated milk to at least 15 women in three states.

"If someone is going out of their way to pump and donate that much milk, they're probably not going to be doing anything really dangerous with their bodies," she said.

Breast milk isn't regulated by the Hawaii Department of Health, but there is a lot of demand due to the health benefits. On some websites, women in Hawaii sell their 'liquid gold' for up to $4 an ounce.

The Food and Drug Administration, however, recommends against feeding babies breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the internet. The agency warns about the potential risks of exposure to diseases or contaminants.

"We definitely can have passage of HIV or Cytomegalovirus through breast milk," said Le'a Minton, president of the advocacy group Breastfeeding Hawaii.

Minton encourages mothers to make informed choices and to ask lots of questions.

"We can't say that the sharing and selling of it is safe because it's not being tested. At the same time, we do recognize that women choose to do this and so to be as educated as possible," she said.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.