Breastmilk Sharing at the Intersections of Race and Risk

Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins

ISBN: 978-1-78756-400-8, eISBN: 978-1-78756-399-5

ISSN: 1529-2126

Publication date: 15 November 2018


The burgeoning practice of peer-to-peer breastmilk sharing in the United States conflicts with public health concerns about the safety of the milk. In-depth interviews with 58 breastmilk sharers highlight the ways in which these respondents counter widespread risk narratives. These caregivers deploy existing social values such as self-reliance, good citizenship, and “crunchy,” or natural, mothering to validate their milk-sharing practices. However, because of stratified reproduction, in which society encourages White motherhood while it disparages motherhood among poor women and women of color, these discourses are more accessible to milk sharers who are White and from middle-class. Black and Latinx milk donors and recipients offer additional rationale for milk sharing that includes reclaiming their legacies as worthy mothers and elevating milk sharing to justice work. In rejecting and reframing risk, all of these milk sharers work toward flattening the good mother/bad mother binary.



Wilson, K. (2018), "Breastmilk Sharing at the Intersections of Race and Risk", Taylor, T. and Bloch, K. (Ed.) Marginalized Mothers, Mothering from the Margins (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 25), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 229-244.

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