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Kelly Cox: COO and Co-Founder of Share The Drop

The health benefits of human milk for babies can't be understated, and Share The Drop is on a mission to make access to human milk more accessible. Their one-of-a-kind app allows for caregivers who are in need of milk to locate women in their area who have excess milk. In the process, Share The Drop is building community and encouraging education about this important topic. Learn more here!

Can you tell me about the need for your app?

We know that human milk is the gold standard for infant health and nutrition. We know that some lactating mothers produce more supply than just their own infant can consume. We know that wet nursing, first recorded in 3000 BCE, has sustained our civilization from the beginning. And yet, fraught with politics, even breastfeeding has been shamed and shunned. We also know that our world continues to change. We’ve lived through a global pandemic, droughts, wildfires, and other emergencies. Human milk has continued to sustain even the most vulnerable premature babies. With an ongoing infant formula shortage, we can't think of a more timely need to encourage community milk sharing.

What inspired you to create Share The Drop?

I owned and operated a pre and postnatal yoga studio for a decade; it was there that I began to understand the stressors and depression that surrounds feeding infants. One night as I was responding to emails from two yoga clients, one seeking human milk for her child, the other wanting to donate her excess; my phone pinged with a notification from Bumble. A lightbulb moment for me - if I could find an 'ideal partner' from an app, why couldn't these families have a similar resource to donate and receive human milk for their infants? As a breast cancer survivor, it is a personal mission to make sure any other survivor can have access to human milk for their children as well. Once I understood the need for this option for survivors, I began to consider how this can be a viable choice for same sex couples who adopt, those who use surrogates, grandparents raising their grandchildren... anyone without access to breastmilk.

How does the matching process work?

Android users can download the mobile app on Google Play; iOS users can create an account on our website. Users choose whether they are a donor or receiver, and from there they create their profiles. All users must agree to our terms of use, which includes reading about safety measures in storing milk and home pasteurization (if recipients want to take one more safety measure). Donors are asked if they are willing to share any recent lab work with recipients; if they agree, we add a medical icon to their profile so recipients know they can ask to see results. Once each party creates a profile (dietary issues, caffeine/alcohol intake, etc) they then enter their zip code and how far they are willing to go to exchange milk. Once matched, users are encouraged to message within the app, asking any pertinent questions to ensure this is a trusted source for their family. We encourage initial meetings to be in a public space to further ensure safety. As a company, Share The Drop never gets involved in exchanges; we never touch, store, or ship milk.

Are there any misconceptions about milk sharing that you can dispel?

Safety is the biggest concern; we have added a report button to the app so anyone concerned with nefarious behavior can report issues directly to us. We also never allow monetary exchanges; while we recognize the time and effort it takes to pump and store milk, paying for this exchange creates too much opportunity for corruption. We also strongly encourage open communication amongst users; one of our medical advisors, a neonatologist, stated 'The questions you need to ask a donor are the same questions you should ask a partner before you have sex for the first time.' We strongly believe in informed consent, giving agency back to parents to decide what works best for them.

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