Mothers donate breast milk to those in need

A mother breastfeeding her baby.
PHOTO: Mothers donate breast milk to those in need

JAKARTA - Renny Sutiyoso, daughter of former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso, is blessed with the ability to produce more breast milk than her baby daughter Kianna needs.

"When I uploaded a picture of my four refrigerators full of breast milk to Instagram, a friend saw it and suggested that I donate the milk to other babies," she said recently.

Renny said she then donated her breast milk to three babies, after selecting them carefully.

"I only donate my breast milk to babies whose mothers have died or are sick," she said.

She said she kept in contact with the babies' families, in order to adhere to the Islamic rule forbidding people who have drunk breast milk from the same woman to marry each other.

Like Renny, Hanna Mutia, mother to 6-month-old daughter Dyna, also has an oversupply of breast milk. Hanna said that she had been donating her breast milk for three months.

"I have donated breast milk to a baby whose mother has died," Hanna said on Wednesday. "I have also donated breast milk to another baby whose mother can produce only a small amount of milk each day."

Hanna donated her breast milk on a weekly basis to the orphaned baby, while for the other baby she donated irregularly, depending on the available supply, she said.

"I keep a constant stock of 200 bottles of breast milk for my own baby and donate any excess [each week] - usually around 10-20 bottles - to the two babies," she said, adding that one bottle contained around 100 milliliters of breast milk.

Hanna, who is Muslim, said that she only donated breast milk to female babies to guarantee they would not marry one another in the future.

Another mother, Laksmini Rukmawati, said that she donated her breast milk to three babies from an orphanage near her house in Serpong, South Tangerang.

"I also donate breast milk to a mother who adopted twin babies," she said.

Laksmini said she donated breast milk occasionally, based on her milk production. "Once I had a surplus of almost 100 bottles, so I donated all of it immediately," she said.

To search for potential recipients for their surplus breast milk, the three mothers usually used social media platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter and online forums.

"I have posted my number, identity and other data on the forum and on the Facebook page 'Human Milk 4 Human Babies'," said Laksmini, who is planning to exclusively give breast milk to her son for two years.

On such forums, donors usually post data such as religion, age and gender of their baby, the amount of breast milk available and blood type. They also write their health condition and lifestyle details, such as not smoking or drinking.

Secretary-general of the Indonesian Breastfeeding Mothers' Association (AIMI), Farahdibha Tenrilemba, said the data was needed because some recipients were concerned about the possibility of diseases, like diabetes, being transferred through donated breast milk.

"In the end, the decision to receive donations depends on the recipient," she said.

AIMI, which was established in 2007, helps breast milk donors to find recipients and vice versa, said Farahdibha.

Both donors and recipients can visit AIMI's office on Jl. RS Fatmawati in South Jakarta, or mention @aimi_asi on Twitter, to search for one another, she said.

AIMI would help only babies whose mothers had died or were sick, she added. "We do not help mothers whose breast milk production is limited because [they] lack confidence or are suffering distress," Farahdibha said, adding that AIMI provided counseling services for mothers with low breast milk production.

Besides using the Internet or accessing the help of AIMI, some mothers look for breast milk donations from friends. Another mother, Friska, for example, has asked for two bottles of breast milk per day from her friend.

"Once, my baby was sick and my breast milk supply was not sufficient," she said. "So every day for two weeks, I travelled from my office to my friend's to fetch two bottles of breast milk," she said.

Friska said her baby boy needed five bottles per day, but she could only produce three bottles at that time.