Tattoo artist Kat Von D says she fed her son with breast milk donated by a stranger after early struggles with breastfeeding

On Instagram, Kat Von D revealed that she faced some early struggles with breastfeeding her son.

caption
On Instagram, Kat Von D revealed that she faced some early struggles with breastfeeding her son.
source
Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

  • On Instagram, Kat Von D shared a video of her infant son, Leafar, breastfeeding.
  • In the caption, she revealed that she fed him donor breast milk just after he was born.
  • She said a pediatrician suggested it because Leafar’s blood sugar was low and her milk “hadn’t come in yet.”
  • Experts say donor milk can be beneficial for babies in some situations.
  • They recommend getting it from milk banks that perform safety checks and donor screening.

In a new Instagram post, tattoo artist and makeup entrepreneur Kat Von D revealed that she fed her son breast milk donated by a stranger after she experienced early breastfeeding difficulties.

Von D, who welcomed a son named Leafar with husband Rafael Reyes last month, shared details about the experience in an Instagram post on Wednesday, People reported.

“During the first two days of Leafar’s life, his blood sugar count had been low, and as much as I had committed myself to strictly breastfeed, my milk hadn’t come in yet,” she captioned a video of her son breastfeeding. “The pediatrician suggested asking around to see if any friends might have a bit of extra milk they could donate – and if not, I’d have to consider supplementing with formula – something we personally did not want to do.”

Von D wrote that she called her midwife to see if she knew anyone who might be a willing donor. The midwife connected her with Morgan Campbell, a mother and postpartum doula based in Los Angeles tagged in Von D’s Instagram caption, who agreed.

“Without even knowing me, and without question, [she] stepped up and donated a few ounces to us in the middle of the night,” Von D added in the caption. “Needless to say, Leafar’s levels boosted and we are now happily breastfeeding at home … This is true community. True sisterhood. True kindness. And I can’t wait to pay it forward one day soon.”

View this post on Instagram

During the first two days of Leafar’s life, his blood sugar count had been low, and as much as I had committed myself to strictly breastfeed, my milk hadn’t come in yet. The pediatrician suggested asking around to see if any friends might have a bit of extra milk they could donate – and if not, I’d have to consider supplementing with formula – something we personally did not want to do. I called my beloved midwife, @losangelesmidwife to see if she knew anyone who might be willing to share a bit of their breastmilk who was on a plant-based diet, as that was crucial to us, and she quickly connected me with @mattersofmotherhood who, without even knowing me, and without question, stepped up and donated a few ounces to us in the middle of the night. Needless to say, Leafar’s levels boosted, and we are now happily breastfeeding at home. Can’t thank @mattersofmotherhood enough for getting us through those rough nights with your donation. This is true community. True sisterhood. True kindness. And I can’t wait to pay it forward one day soon. ????

A post shared by ???????????? ???????????? ???? (@thekatvond) on

Campbell responded in an Instagram post of her own.

“Wow – I’m speechless @thekatvond. We are so over the moon for you,” she wrote. “I donate my breastmilk because my body has given me this gift and I believe as a mother, it’s important to share it with those who need it.”

Donated milk can “can save babies’ lives” in some situations

Donated breast milk can benefit babies with a low birth weight, experts say.

caption
Donated breast milk can benefit babies with a low birth weight, experts say.
source
Monthira/Shutterstock

In recommendations published last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said that, while a mother’s own milk is always preferred, donor human milk “can be an effective alternative when maternal milk isn’t available or falls short of the infant’s needs.” Donated breast milk can be especially beneficial for “high-risk” infants, like those born at a very low birth weight, the organization noted.

The World Health Organization also recommends that infants with a low birth weight who cannot be fed their own mother’s milk should be fed donor milk, as long as “safe and affordable” milk-banking facilities are available.

That’s an important caveat.

Breast milk from unscreened donors may expose a baby to infectious diseases or prescription drugs that are transmitted via milk, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. Human milk that hasn’t been stored properly could also become contaminated and unsafe to consume, just like regular dairy milk.

This is why obtaining human milk directly from individuals or via the internet could be risky, according to the FDA and the AAP.

“The use of donor human milk can save babies’ lives, but we need to make sure it is provided safely,” pediatrician Dr. Steven Abrams, MD, said in a statement about the AAP recommendations.

Experts recommend using milk banks that perform safety checks and screen donors

Milk banks that screen donors and store milk properly can provide safe donated milk.

caption
Milk banks that screen donors and store milk properly can provide safe donated milk.
source
Kwangmoozaa/Shutterstock

Donor milk banks that screen donors for infectious diseases and properly store and pasteurize human milk “represent a safe and effective approach” for getting donated breast milk to babies who need it, the AAP said in its recommendations. In the US, safe supplies of donor human milk remain limited, and donor milk may be costly as a result, but the number of milk banks is increasing, the paper added.

“The way to provide milk safely is through established milk banks that perform adequate safety checks and screening,” Abrams said in the AAP statement. “Using milk from informal or online sources is simply too large a risk for infants, who could be exposed to bacteria and viruses like cytomegalovirus, hepatitis viruses, and HIV.”

The AAP also called for policies that will “increase and expand” access to safe donated milk.

It’s not clear from the Von D’s Instagram post whether the donation she received included any specific safety measures. Campbell and representatives for Von D’s tattoo business and beauty brand did not immediately respond to INSIDER’s requests for comment.

Ultimately, different babies have different nutritional needs, and the choice to feed a baby donated human milk should be made in consultation with the baby’s healthcare provider, according to the FDA.

To find out if there is a human milk bank near you, the FDA suggests contacting your state health department or checking with the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, a voluntary professional association for milk banks.

Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.