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The message that "breast is best" is all around, and major health organizations all recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby's life. But sometimes breastfeeding difficult make following that recommendation difficult or impossible. The most common alternative to breast milk from the baby's own mother is formula. But might donor milk be an option for you?

The World Health Organization has a definite hierarchy of which milk is considered best for babies. Number on is breast milk, from a baby's own mother and directly from the breast. Number two is milk that the mother expressed and then gave to the baby through a bottle. Number three is donor breast milk, from another mother. Formula is number four. If you are unable to either breastfeed your baby or pump for her, you are likely to turn to formula right away. If you feel strongly about your baby receiving breast milk, donor milk may be an option for you.

Unfortunately, no matter how good donor milk sounds, it can be exceedingly difficult to come by. Milk banks that pasteurize milk are the safest option, but they may give priority to babies who were born prematurely and have a higher need for breast milk. Milk bank milk might also be expensive. Still, this is an option that is worth looking into. Online milk sharing communities are another option that parents are increasingly using. Milk sharing communities, which you can locate through Google and which are active in quite a number of countries throughout the world, might sound appealing to you.

But do take into consideration that breast milk that is not tested may not be safe, and that you would want to know a lot about the mother's health before accepting donor milk from a woman you don't know. A third possibility may be asking a friend or relative who is breastfeeding to pump milk for you. In this situation, you will know more about the person's health and may feel better about giving it to your baby. For more breastfeeding info, look at how to beat mastitis.

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