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This chapter studies two news headlines that were circulating within the milk-sharing communities. It reviews the article in The Washington Post titled “Why These Bikers Crisscross New York Delivering Donated Breast Milk”, which tells the story of a motorcycle club that has partnered with a milk bank in New York to deliver pasteurized breastmilk to homes and hospitals. It also explains how The Washington Post article emphasizes the altruism in both breastmilk donation and shows how two unlikely worlds come together for a greater purpose. The chapter analyses the headline derived from a news article from Physician's Weekly titled “AAP: Most Moms Unconcerned with Informal milk-sharing”. It discusses that the article presents a new study on concerns related to breastmilk obtained through informal milk-sharing.

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This chapter looks at concepts in milk-sharing communities through the singular concept of bio-community of practice. It explains how bio-community connotes a self-contained, homogenous, singular entity wherein the plural bio-communities becomes open-ended, multiple, and heterogeneous. It also identifies people who engaged in milk-sharing in environments that fostered a variety of connections and practices and often belonged to several different social networks that sometimes overlapped. The chapter refers to localized relationships of milk-sharing communities that take place within several broader, overlapping networks organized by geographic location. It analyses relationships of biointimacy that are established when a donor and recipient meet in person and the donor's biological material is transferred from one person to another.

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This chapter provides original sociological thinking in order to bear on contemporary gender relations, divisions, and issues of concern to feminists. It analyzes human milk-sharing communities in a large metropolitan area in southeastern United States. It also describes the practices of milk-sharing, the meanings ascribed to human milk, and the labour involved in its production. The chapter builds on existing scholarship and theoretical frameworks to develop a model for understanding contemporary forms of bodily sharing. It explains how feeding of human milk to socially and biologically unrelated infants is a normal method of infant feeding documented throughout human history and in societies around the world.

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This chapter focuses on Educated Mama, a closed Facebook group devoted to natural parenting and informed choice and addresses questions about child development, baby sleep, and cloth diapering. It looks at breastfeeding struggles as a frequent topic of conversation in Educated Mama, in which the contexts of milk-sharing often comes up. It also discusses collages that are lovingly created by mothers whose babies have benefitted from donor milk as one of the most visually striking posts observed in Educated Mama. The chapter assesses the nature of the visual stories that present a narrative of interconnectedness, of babies connected to unrelated mothers, and each other by the milk they consume. It refers to expectant parents who navigate a complex set of often competing discourses that informs their decisions around all aspects of birth and infant care.

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This chapter talks about mothers named Cassie and Thelma who spent many hours and invested significant bodily, emotional, and financial resources to engage in milk-sharing. It focuses on the practices of sharing milk that take place within the bio-communities. It also considers how milk travels from the bodies of donors to those of recipients and how this journey serves to constitute and maintain the bio-communities of practice. The chapter explains how making milk is a labour-intensive process that involves unremitting discipline and continual, sustained commitment. It talks about the labour of making milk that is obscured by popular representations that erase the work involved and the public/private distinction that relegates it to the home.

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Intimacy, Materiality and Bio-Communities of Practice

The feeding of human milk to socially and biologically unrelated infants is not a new phenomenon, but the Euroamerican values of individualism have generated expectations that mothers are individually responsible for feeding their own infants.

Using a bio-communities of practice framework, this dynamic new analysis explores the emotional and material dimensions of the growing milk sharing practice in the Global North and its implications for contemporary understandings of infant feeding in the US.

Ranging widely across themes of motherhood, gender and sociology, this is a compelling empirical account of infant feeding that stimulates new thinking about a contentious practice.

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This chapter highlights the ways in which milk-sharing encompasses an array of embodied and social practices through the experiences of a single mother named Anna. It explores how milk itself has an important material presence in Anna's story as she describes the ways she transports, stores, and handles it, alongside the deep emotional connection she experiences with it. It also shows human milk-sharing as a community practice and material that form a theoretical groundwork on various aspects of milk-sharing. The chapter references Étienne Wenger's communities of practice model to propose the notion of bio-communities of practice, which are characterized by bio-intimacy. It explains how bio-intimacy is interconnected with the materiality of human milk, particularly as an emotionally laden substance.

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