The United States is experiencing tremendous baby formula shortages at the moment, which has left many households desperate to find ways to feed their babies.
This desperation does not warrant mistreating other parents, however, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor iopuytre was shocked when she was called out by a neighbor for donating breast milk instead of simply giving it to her, despite it not being properly processed.
Concerned about the effects of peer-sharing milk, however, the Original Poster (OP) decided to continue with her donations, despite the neighbor’s threats.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for donating my breast milk instead of just giving it to my neighbor?”
The OP was donating her breast milk to help with the shortages.
“I’m a 29-year-old female, and I am currently undergoing the process of donating my breast milk to a ‘milk’ bank.”
“I held a BBQ to celebrate my oldest child’s birthday (6) and invited just about the whole neighborhood that had kids her age.”
“Well, as the adults started talking together, one of the main topics was about the formula shortage.”
“My second child is no longer interested in breastfeeding as he has been enlightened to solid fruits now. I told everyone that I was very concerned for the NICU’s/Pediatric ICU’s since I worked with them not too long ago.”
“I figured that since I’m still lactating and have an abundance of breast milk left over, I decided I would try and donate to them.”
One of her neighbors was interested in the fact that the OP had breast milk left over.
“Well, one of my neighbors, ‘Sally,’ just recently had a baby who’s about 3 months now.”
“She started hinting at the fact that formula is hard to come by and so expensive to order now that she’s going through drastic measures of ordering foreign products from Asia/Europe.”
“She said that she’s spending at least $600 per month now just to feed her baby and how she would have been so grateful if she had a third of my production.”
“We all laughed because we thought it was a joke, and then the conversation changed.”
The neighbor’s hints turned into a concerning argument.
“So today, I received a text from Sally, asking if I could give her a few of my bags of breast milk since she’s low on formula and she couldn’t get more until the end of the week.”
“I then told her exactly this, ‘Hey Sally, I’m sorry but I don’t feel comfortable giving your child my breast milk as it’s the equivalent of giving your child blood and I’m still going through the process of getting it health screened.'”
“I thought it was a good response, but she then texted back that I was a monster and a b***h for letting her child starve.”
“She then told me that she would report me to the authorities for child abuse against her kid and then also threatened CPS on my kids because ‘I obviously only cared about myself.'”
The OP’s husband was concerned by the turn the conversation took.
“I showed my husband these texts and he got very upset, saying that we need to contact the authorities or a lawyer at least.”
“I don’t want her kid to starve but I really don’t feel comfortable just handing out my breast milk, especially with all the heath cursors and such.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some recommended that the OP get in front of potential allegations as soon as possible.
“Sally’s threats though are likely enough to get an order of no contact, so at a minimum OP should speak to an attorney.”
“She also needs to show this text exchange to a few of the others who were at the event. Sally may not actually go the route of filing false police reports, but at the very least she is likely to go around trashing OP with a fake story about OP promising her milk or OP somehow taking formula from her.”
“Best to stay ahead of it all.” – TogarSucks
“Rumors can absolutely harm people. You think if a good ‘he’s gay/she’s secretly a MAN’ rumor gets going in the wrong area, the neighbors are going to stop and check before they get violent?”
“I can choose how I react to social ostracism, sure (though that’s violence in its own way, and d**ned unpleasant) but I can’t Ayn Rand my windows and bones back together.”
“Be careful, OP.” – Doctor-Liz
“In some cases, just calling and saying, ‘Hey, my crazy neighbor might call you and make some allegations,’ can really save you some headache.”
“Now, of course, the authority in question may do nothing with the information. But it’s that ‘whoever gets there first is more likely to be believed’ bias people have.” – drakeotomy
“I think that there are people that are comfortable with peer based milk sharing. OP prefers that hers get screened, so that that receiving family know that it is safe, and she doesn’t have to worry about inadvertently making a child ill.”
“If Sally wants to reach out to other mom’s and see if there is program like that around her, or if the milk bank at the hospital has the ability to provide for older kids, than Sally is free to do that.” – Glittering_knave
“OP donating milk to those babies definitely will help them thrive, espeically if there is a milk shortage. It’s awesome that OP is doing that, and I bet the nurses and doctors helping the babies, not to mention the babies familys especially, would be thankful to OP’s donations!”
“As for her neighbor, OP wasn’t able to even give the neighbor the milk even if she wanted to because it has to be health screened first to make sure it was safe for consumption. If OP did give it to her neighbor and the baby got sick, then OP’s neighbor would come after in a rage and rant and threaten her anyway.”
“It would of been a no-win situation for OP no matter what option she took.”
“Also, I’m sure that baby formula could be bought on Amazon or cheaper options than getting things from Europe or Asia (though I don’t know, because I don’t have to hunt down formula as I’m neither pregnant nor have a baby).”
“I would probably keep the texts/threats as proof of false allegations/threats of false allegations if she does report OP.”
“OP should also contact a lawyer right now before the cops to see what options are to get the neighbor to stop without involving the police (as it could be more ‘quiet’ to deal with this way).”
“If the harassment continues or they start a smear campaign against OP, then I would also contact the cops for harassment.” – TheoryAddict
Others agreed but also worried the other mother was struggling with her mental health.
“I’d LOVE to see that report for child abuse against her kid. ‘My neighbor is abusing my child by not providing it with breast milk! Arrest her, even though she is in no way responsible for the health and well-being of my child!'”
“Your body, your milk, you get to decide what to do with it.”
“NTA.” – mdthomas
“OP is definitely NTA, but I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to have a baby that I couldn’t feed. I might say some crazy shit and lash out, too. Doesn’t excuse it of course, just maybe explains it a bit.” – humourouslyominous
“I wonder if there’s some postpartum mental health stuff going on. This is really unhinged and makes me wonder about postpartum psychosis [also called postpartum anxiety].”
“A mentally-ill a**hole is still an a**hole, though. OP should definitely keep her distance.” – PurpleMP12
“I’m worried about the mom’s dealing with stigma about being unable to breastfeed. I’m not saying she’s possibly got other issues, but it sucks real bad if she legitimately can’t feed her baby.”
“Within the healthcare community, everyone is pretty supportive, as long as your baby gets fed, it doesn’t matter if it’s formula or breastmilk. But as a mom with an infant with a poor latch and milk supply issues, I’m telling you it can be really rough anywhere else.”
“I had my baby in 2020, so we got our pick of formula, but even if I had never gotten crap from random people about how I’m not a good mom if I’m feeding her breastmilk, I still had it coming from inside my head. I had to do therapy to process it.”
“And that’s without PPD or a formula shortage. There’s nothing quite so gut-wrenchingly soul-crushing as listening to your infant starve.” – keti24
“NO. Calling CPS isn’t the thing to do for Sally to get help for her own kid. Child protection call lines are for reporting/processing cases of suspected abuse. Full stop.”
“Any call not related directly to suspected abuse, like for example calling CPS to retaliate against your neighbor, takes staff away from cases that actually do involve terrible things.”
“Even if it only takes an hour or two for staff to go over the facts, that is time being taken away from other cases that may be dire.”
“CPS can do NOTHING to get Sally a supply of formula, certainly not in a timely manner. She is much better off contacting the La Leche League, her doctor/midwife, the food bank, the milk bank and whatever other community resources are in the area.”
“OP is NTA. Sally might be desperate but it doesn’t excuse her AH behavior.” – Catgirl320
After receiving feedback, the OP did some reflecting on the situation.
“Hello everyone, I just wanted to update the post a little bit. Yes, breast milk is basically blood, a lot of things are passed through breast milk that your doctor should have informed you about before/while you were pregnant (a few examples HIV, syphilis/herpes, hepatitis C, CMV, allergies, elements in chemotherapy, chemicals in medications, etc.).”
“Your body biologically&chemically makes food for your baby SPECIFICALLY, not for the masses. That is why I’m going through the screening process to make sure I am able to donate, plus the milk bank pasteurizes/’cleans’ after it passes the screening process.”
“I understand that women have done peer-peer breastfeeding for years but have you read any of the research of babies that caught the diseases/viruses from the wet nurse? How many babies died because they weren’t getting the correct nutritional value because the milk was not made for them?”
“I am not denying Sally’s baby food for evil intent, I want their child to be safe and find a healthy source of food from something that has been medically approved.”
“Would you have the same thought if my milk was deemed unsafe for public consumption? Since I have a surplus amount of milk, would you still want me to give ‘unsafe’ milk to Sally’s child?”
“And yes, if my milk was deemed safe and was properly screened, pasteurized, and ‘cleaned,’ then I would give her that. Not straight from me but once it’s gone through all the channels.”
“Thank you for all the kind comments, and I have taken your advice as well regarding the messages.”
The subReddit’s primary concern was a mother being able to feed her child, and likely panicking due to formula shortages. They did, however, agree with the OP and appreciated her taking proper health precautions before sharing her breast milk.
They were also taken aback by how far the other mother was willing to go in her attempts to acquire breast milk. Threatening a family with CPS is no laughing matter, no matter how badly her family needed the milk.