An exciting new Tool has just been launched called the Mothers’ Milk Tool. It has been created by Australian National University (ANU) researchers in partnership with Alive and Thrive and FHI Solutions, and it allows individual mothers to calculate the value of the milk they have produced for their child.

The Mothers’ Milk Tool quantifies the volume of breastmilk and value of breastfeeding at individual, national and global levels, as well as how much is lost if country environments and policies, or healthcare, work and community settings do not enable women’s and children’s rights to breastfeeding.

“The value of breastfeeding is poorly recognised,” said the ANU’s Dr Julie Smith.

“Breastfeeding and mothers’ milk is presently not counted in food systems or the economy, but it should be. The Mothers’ Milk Tool will help.”

Breastfeeding contributes importantly to a countries food supply and food security. Countries can rely on the human milk produced by breastfeeding women – from mother to baby is the worlds shortest and most reliable baby food supply chain.

In countries which do not provide enabling environments for breastfeeding there is a high percentage of lost milk. In countries where breastfeeding is common such as Ireland or the United Kingdom, around 80% of this crucial potential food supply is lost. In the United States, Brazil, Norway and Australia around two thirds of the capacity to provide human milk is lost due to in adequate protection, promotion and support for breastfeeding.

Global Human Milk Production Facts:

  • Globally approximately 35.6 billion litres of breastmilk are provided each year by the world’s mothers for their babies 0-36 months.
  • Around 38% of the potential global breastmilk is currently forfeited due to inadequate breastfeeding practices.
  • Nearly 29.1 billion litres of breastmilk is “lost” or forfeited each year from inadequate breastfeeding, which has a monetary value of US$2.2 trillion.

Dr Smith said that if the value of breastfeeding is not visible it is harder to make a case for funding the policies and programs to protect, promote and support breastfeeding. Money is the language of policymakers. Counting human milk production in food and economic statistics will assist in better policy decision-making and investments in women’s unpaid care work.

“Counting human milk is a way to value and recognise how much women add to the food system, economy and society through the care of infants and young children. When countries do not count breastfeeding or human milk in production statistics, the extent of women’s productivity and contributions to society goes unnoticed.”

The Mothers’ Milk Tool  is free and can be downloaded. It has been launched to coincide with Mother’s Day to acknowledge the role, health and economic contribution of mothers to society through women’s unpaid care work, including breastfeeding. How much is your breastmilk production worth? Download the tool and find out!

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