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Homemade Formula vs Human Donor Milk

Homemade Formula or Human Donor Milk
Photo by Aurimas Creative Commons License

We all know that babies first and only food for the first 6 months of life should be breastmilk.  But what if the mom, for whatever reason, cannot breastfeed.  There are numerous reasons when supplementation, like the Weston A. Price Foundation’s homemade formula, might be necessary like insufficient glandular tissue, low supply, breast reduction surgery (though many have been able to breastfeed after reduction), medication the mother needs to be on, adoption/foster care or in the event of maternal death.

First off, I want to make it clear that I am in no way against formula or people choosing to use it.  I am not attacking anyone for not being able to breastfeed (that is just silly).  Does it have to be a stand off?  I don’t think so.  I do think women need to be aware of their choices so they can make the best decision for their family.  The best way to make an informed choice is to weigh the pros and cons of all the options and choose what is best for your family.

“All of us experience life through a variety of 
personal filters and we often have sensitive areas that automatically put us on our guard and we may take things as a personal attack when that’s hardly the intent.” ~Jessica from The Leaky B@@b

Here is what I would like to see when a mother is found to have an inadequate supply.

#1  Address what is the cause of the low supply, suggest how to boost supply and even relactation.

#2  Traditional practice of milksharing.
Before the advent of formula, wet nursing was common practice and in many countries it still is.
When China experienced a problem with tainted formula, sickening 53,000 and a resulting death in 4 infants, many woman turned to the traditional practice of wet nursing:

“While doctors say any breast milk from a healthy woman will help a baby grow and protect it against disease, the practice of having another woman nurse one’s own baby was largely abandoned in the West in the 19th century. But the practice is common in a number of countries. China also has a long tradition of wet nursing, but the Communist Party considered the practice decadent and tried to stamp it out.”  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122220872407868805.html

Questions and comments I see come up consistently when I or others bring up the issue of donor milk (usually on a Facebook thread promoting the homemade formula) are as follows:

Donor breastmilk is hard to find!
Yes, it is. Now.  But it doesn’t have to be!   

“Breastmilk, the biologically normal sustenance for humankind, is a free-flowing resource and others of the world are willing to share it.”

~Human Milk 4 Human Babies Vision Statement

There are groups like Human Milk 4 Human Babies whose mission is to provide a community where moms in need can find moms with excess.  There is a chapter in every state in the US and in over 50 countries.

If you are only able to obtain small amounts of breastmilk here and there, “…any breastfeeding has protective effects“.

http://health.msn.co.nz/healthnews/8417796/breastfeeding-protects-against-asthma

Donor milk is a very viable option but, yes, suitable milk can be difficult to obtain and some might just not be comfortable with it.  I get that.  I would like to see the taboo of donor milk disappear.  It’s no more yucky than feeding milk from a cow.  The more people that realize donor milk is an option, the more the word gets out about the need for donor milk.

I’m not going to feed my baby milk from a complete stranger.
Just as the foundation suggests for raw milk to know your farmer, visit the farm, ask questions, the same goes for donor milk.  Talk to her, ask questions, request test results, meet her, see the baby she is nourishing with the same milk she is offering to you.

The mother’s diet is probably bad therefore her milk is most likely deficient.
Yes, diet can affect the nutrient quality of milk and a diet full of transfats, lacking in nutrients, may result in less than superior milk.  Is it less nutritive than the homemade formula?  I think that would be an interesting experiment.  If you are concerned, why not send the milk in to get analyzed?  http://www.brookerlaboratories.com/service.html#nutfactdata

One thing you can request of the mother is for them to do a blood panel determining her nutrient status.  I just had this test done recently (which I totally rocked!).  Most insurance companies will cover the cost of the tests and most people should have these tests done anyway. If mom is depleted in more than a couple areas, it’s your decision whether to accept it or not.  Another option would be to use this “depleted” milk in place of the cow milk in the formula recipe or supplement.

“Vitamins and minerals also vary according to maternal intake. But even when these nutrients are lower in breast milk than in formulas, their higher bioactivity and bioavailability more nearly meet the complete needs of neonates than do even the best infant formulas”

Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9746642

What about AIDS, Hepatitis and other disease transferred through bodily fluid?
This is a very legitimate concern.  First off, breastmilk is not blood.  Comparing feeding breastmilk to a blood transfusion is comparing apples to oranges.  Completely different.  Hepatitis is in fact not inherent in breastmilk and mothers with hepatitis are encouraged to breastfeed.  From the CDC itself :

Yes. Even before the availability of hepatitis B vaccine, HBV transmission through breastfeeding was not reported. All infants born to HBV-infected mothers should receive hepatitis B immune globulin and the first dose of hepatitis B vaccine within 12 hours of birth. The second dose of vaccine should be given at aged 1–2 months, and the third dose at aged 6 months. The infant should be tested after completion of the vaccine series, at aged 9–18 months (generally at the next well-child visit), to determine if the vaccine worked and the infant is not infected with HBV through exposure to the mother’s blood during the birth process. However, there is no need to delay breastfeeding until the infant is fully immunized. All mothers who breastfeed should take good care of their nipples to avoid cracking and bleeding.” http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/disease/hepatitis.htm

If in doubt, flashpasteurization flash-heating is always an option.  You can read about that here HIV in breastmilk killed by flash-heating.  Youcan watch how to do it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNw1odieIoI
ETA: This study was done on HIV and was found to inactivate HIV and other pathogens.  There has not been a study on whether flash-heating inactivates hepatitis but hepatitis is not inherent in breastmilk anyway.  This point about hepatitis is not to say you should accept donor milk from a mother with the disease.  I’m simply showing that people crying disease in breastmilk is overblown.  Breastmilk is not the same as blood.

And remember, this is the same milk this mother is giving her own child.  All women who give birth through a hospital and even at home with a midwife, have a series of tests taken to verify the mother’s disease status.  Many women on the receiving end of milk donation request to see recent test results.

I know what’s going in the formula, I don’t know what’s in the mother’s milk.
Again, it’s a matter of talking with the mom as you would with the farmer you are obtaining your raw cow milk from. If you are unsure about the nutritional completeness of the milk, use it in place of the cow’s milk in the formula or supplement.

#3 The Weston A. Price Foundation’s Homemade Formula

Is the formula bad?  No!  In many cases it is life saving but it should be used as a last resort.  I would like to see this formula used only in the absence of suitable donor milk or while searching for donor milk.  The fact of the matter is, it’s milk from another species designed for baby cows not baby humans.  The first 6 months of a baby’s life their gut is open, “this means that the spaces between the cells of the small intestines will readily allow intact macromolecules, including whole proteins and pathogens, to pass directly into the bloodstream.” Human milk is specially designed for human babies.  It contains the right proteins and right flora to populate the child’s gut.  The gut of formula fed babies (in this case I’m referring to commercial formula as I have not seen research concerning the homemade formula) is vastly different than the guts of breastfed babies.

“Bottle-fed babies develop completely different gut flora to breastfed babies.  Breastfeeding is essential for appropriate population of the baby’s gut with balanced, healthy gut flora.  Babies are born with a sterile gut.  Breastfeeding is the one and only opportunity we have in our lives to populate the entire surface of our gut with a healthy mixture of bacteria to lay the very basis of our future health.” ~Dr. Campbell Gut and Psychology Syndrome pg 37.

Again, human milk is designed for human babies. We can supply all the vitamins, fats and carbohydrates a baby needs but human milk is so much more than that.

A nutrient comparison of breastmilk to the WAPF homemade formula can be found here:
http://www.westonaprice.org/childrens-health/recipes-for-homemade-baby-formula#chart

In the event that formula is the only option, it’s best used in a SNS (supplemental nursing system).  If a mom is producing any milk at all, the baby can benefit from it. The bond formed while breastfeeding, even formula feeding at the breast, is a special thing.  Donor milk can be delivered through an SNS as well.

Do I think everyone should use donor milk if they aren’t able to breastfeed?  The decision of whether to use formula or donor milk lies in the hands of the family alone. That’s not for me to decide.  Like I said before, people need to know the available choices in order to make the best choice for their family.  One family might not feel comfortable with it where another family would welcome it joyfully but may never find out it is even an option.  I’m simply shining light on the option of breastmilk.

I envision a time where a mom who has a need can go to her community and have that need met.  I’ve seen this time and time again when I’ve donated milk or helped moms in need find that milk.  I’ve stood in awe of moms stepping up and giving their “stash” or offering to pump for babies in need.  Many moms have been able to reestablish their milk supply with the help and support of donor moms and then even went on to donate breastmilk themselves.  If you are breastfeeding mom with extra milk to spare, consider donating it.

http://www.facebook.com/hm4hb
http://www.hm4hb.net

Comments are open.  Please be respectful. We are all moms and dads (and grandparents) just trying to do what’s best for our babies.

**A special thanks to Marija of http://www.ecwear.com and Ashley Rozenberg for their encouragement, inspiration and brainstorming powers.**

Part of Fat Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, Fight Back Friday


**This post may contain affiliate links. Purchasing from these links helps support Pickle Me Too, allowing me to post and store all of my free recipes. Thank you!**

43 comments to Homemade Formula vs Human Donor Milk

  • Yay, Melanie! Love the thought you put into this and your courage for bringing up this controversial issue! Personally, I'm unconvinced either way on this issue. On the one hand I totally agree that human milk is for human babies. But I am also concerned about the nutrient profile of donor mllk. Love that you mentioned testing, but since RDA's in the U.S. are basically random I wonder how much info we can really get from it. Now, if we could set up a control sample from a woman on a very traditional diet and measure against that I'd be thrilled. What do you think?

  • That is something I would love to see. I would do it myself but my nursing baby is almost 2 and since milk changes over the course of time I think it would be better with a younger baby's milk. Any lactating moms out there willing to take part in an experiment?

  • i have one really old bag of milk still in the freezer, and i follow a traditional diet. 🙂 you're more than welcome to it if you'd like. i'm curious as well of the properties of mine vs. that of homemade formula/other momma's milk. 🙂

  • I know, I almost offered to but my nursling is 17 months!Here's one more thing I'd like to get your thoughts on: pasteurization. Do organizations like HM4HB pasteurize? Do you think that leans the benefits matrix toward homemade formula with it's intact proteins and living probiotics. Or could you perhaps culture the human milk to somewhat repair the damaged proteins and increase probiotic value?

  • Should I admit that I tried making yogurt from expressed milk before? I think I might have extra lactase or something because it was nasty! Anyway…HM4HB is simply a network. They have nothing to do with the milk. They do offer links to people to show them how to flash pasteurize which if someone is really worried about disease, is an option. I think if that someone were to do that, I would suggest adding culture back. That is a good question though. Is flash pasteurized human milk better than the homemade formula? How much of the milk is damaged in the process? Off to see what I can find on that topic…

  • Generally the custom in milk sharing is to request the donor mother's blood work prenatal or most recent in lieu of pasteurization.

  • I stopped breastfeeding in 2010 i think. 🙂 (i only got to have one boy, and when i said traditional, i mean typical american diet, not organic natural momma diet) 🙂 i tried to donate when i was making A TON (10 oz every 2 hours after feeding my son) but since i had a c-section the hospital wouldn't take it, but a friend took most of it. i just have a couple i found in the back of the freezer. 🙂

  • Love this post! We had donor milk (from known donors) with our youngest.

  • Hepatitis: Yes, moms with hepatitis are encouraged to directly *breastfeed* their own child; they are also advised in a vaccination schedule and their child is also tested for hepatitis as mentioned on the CDC. However, assuming that someone would even consider accepting milk from a known hepatitis positive mother (really? the fact that they are advised to breastfeed their own child, makes milk sharing is the same thing?), everyone has to know that outbreaks can happen all over the body, not just the nipples. An infected person can have lesions on any place on the body where there is skin. Granted, this does not have to come in contact with breastmilk, but more precautions than just watching the nipples for blisters and sores should be taken when someone is expressing and handling the milk, even the mother for her own child. Contact with a lesion (by scratching for instance) anywhere on the body while handling milk can cause contamination if the same hands handle the pump, bag, breast etc. So special care is needed when expressing as opposed to breastfeeding directly from the breast. But mostly, the risk is that one can become infected with hepatitis and not know this, via a partner. A lesion is not always immediately perceived to be a hepatitis lesion. Flash pasteurizing: Flash pasteurizing cannot be done at home. It is a commercial and controlled process. Flash heating can. And indeed this has only addressed HIV as far as viruses go.Prenatal testing: Many moms who donate milk have been tested months before donating the milk. They are often hardly recent enough. Also, no test is mandatory, so one should not assume that someone has received a clean bill of health just because she has given birth.Cheers, Maria, Eats On Feets.

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  • When my son was a baby and nursing, I donated milk to the Milk Bank at our local hospital. They tested me for free to make sure I was healthy. (I pumped at work but my son only wanted milk from the original container ;o) After that the only restrictions was that if I took any medication stronger than Tylenol not to donate any milk that was ~8 hours after taking it, since the milk was mainly for the preemies. So you may want to ask if you donor mom is on any meds.As far as the nutrition, the human body is so wonderfully made that it will make perfect milk for the baby, even if it has to deplete your own stores to do it. The allergist that shared the office with our pediatrician was so happy I was nursing he gave me free vitamins for two years. I wouldn't be too worried about using donor milk as long as I knew the donor, and if I was ever nursing again I would gladly donate, esp. since there is no milk bank in our area.DavetteBhttp://DavetteBrown.com

  • My point about Hepatitis was not that women should accept milk from a hepatitis infected mom but rather the argument that milk could be tainted with disease is overblown. Everyone screams, "What if she has Hepatitis or AIDS?" I would like to know if a donor had an infectious disease but I'm not going to scare women away from milksharing with a 'what if'. Not that it's relevant but women were advised to breastfeed if they had Hepatitis even before the vaccine.Testing is not mandatory, of course. The point is that woman can ask to see tests and even request that new tests be taken. We are all concerned about donor milk but this very same mom whose disease status we are questioning is breastfeeding her own child. No one is forcing anyone to accept another person's milk. We can inquire, request to see tests, meet the mom, whatever and if something doesn't seem right, say no thank you.Hepatitis does not cause lesions. I think you are thinking of herpes. If a mother has cracked and bleeding nipples it is true that she should avoid feeding the baby her breastmilk since hepatitis is transmitted through blood.Thank you for the clarification about flash pasteurization. I should have used the term flash heating as they are not interchangeable. I will edit my post to reflect that. The study was done on HIV, you are correct. It showed that flash heating inactivates HIV and 2 other pathogens. There has not been a study showing flash heating destroys hepatitis probably because hepatitis is not inherent in breastmilk.I don't understand what your point is Maria. Are you saying milksharing is bad and the formula would be a better choice?

  • Thank you for relating your story Davette! That is great you were able to donate. Yes, medication is another thing that moms need to ask about as there are some medications that should not be taken while nursing (and many that are perfectly fine). When I donated, I made sure to tell the mom that I took ibuprofen occasionally and had a cup or 2 of coffee. I think this is why it's important to go through a group that doesn't allow the sale of milk. If the donor has nothing to gain, there is no reason to withhold information.

  • Hepatitis (C) can most certainly cause lesions due to liver disease and/or extrahepatic manifestations of HCV infection. I do not think that presenting that info, being cautious with donor milk and understanding *all* the risks is overblown at all. Knowing someone's lifestyle is as important as regular testing. People in non monogamous relationships, people with multiple partners increase risk of exposure. Not all tattoo parlors operate following the strictest guidelines. Adultery is very common unfortunately, and someone does not necessarily know right away if they have Hepatitis. It is just a matter of presenting all the info.Yes, indeed women can ask for these tests, but for anyone to say that women are screened prenatally as if that is sufficient 18 months down the road is not accurate enough. See above examples for instance.Breastfeeding your own child is not the same as *breastmilk feeding* someone else's. There are always risks associated with feeding a baby anything other than his or her own mother’s healthy breastmilk via direct nursing simply because we take it out of its natural environment, store it, warm it up etc. Again it is a matter of presenting all the info. My point is that we need to be more careful with how we put the information, how we screen our donors, how we handle the milk bags etc. This is not about fear-mongering but about all of us being responsible and safe. What moms do is indeed up to them, but those are two different things. I think milk sharing is a great option or I would not have written an extensive evidence based research document on it. And, as a paleo WAPer, I would make my own before getting conventional formula too. 🙂

  • The intent of this post is not to be an exhaustive reference for milksharing. I simply want people to be aware of milksharing as an option. So many jump from a mom having difficulties breastfeeding to suggesting the homemade formula, making no mention of the possibility of donor milk let alone making sure she has the support she needs to breastfeed successfully. We can't make informed choices if we don't have all the options.

  • And I just added some information to things you stated. 🙂 You can't make informed choices without all the details either.

  • I have been blessed to be able to share my milk with others. A friend that ended up with emergency surgery with a 3 week old, a mom that went back to work part time and couldn't pump enough, and a friend that just really struggled with her milk supply with baby number 4. There always seems to be someone in need of milk so I try to pump regularly and keep it in the deep freeze. I wonder who will need what is accumulating now? I know that there are others that I could lean on if something happened to me as well. What an amazing blessing to be surrounded by other lactating moms.

  • I have been blessed to be able to share my milk with others. A friend that ended up with emergency surgery with a 3 week old, a mom that went back to work part time and couldn't pump enough, and a friend that just really struggled with her milk supply with baby number 4. There always seems to be someone in need of milk so I try to pump regularly and keep it in the deep freeze. I wonder who will need what is accumulating now? I know that there are others that I could lean on if something happened to me as well. What an amazing blessing to be surrounded by other lactating moms.

  • Moms are not stupid. Especially the smart mamas who are researching and coming to the conclusion on their own that mom to mom milk sharing is right for them and their babies. I find it insulting as a donor milk feeding mother that any one would assume I am uninformed of our donors health.Obviously I care about the health of my baby. I have the right to ask questions and to ask for testing to be done when I am in doubt but have found this so unnecessary (PERSONALLY, of course) as all of our donors have been wonderful and amazingly honest about some of the most trivial details such as whether they eat broccoli or not or whether they have breast implants, colds, mastitis what ever… I am pretty sure a crack addiction, hepatitis or aids would have come up… ( sarcasm) cos for one, some one with these medical issues are probably well aware of them ( if one were to have "lesions") and probably much too consumed with treatment ( or drug abusing in the case of a drug addict) to sit around pumping milk for babies. Let alone hanging out on milk sharing pages! I know more babies who get sick from formula then from donor milk. Donor milk saved my baby and I am so glad we took the "risk".

  • I do love this post by the way!! 🙂

  • I do love this post by the way!! 🙂

  • And I love your comment!That is the #1 thing that drives me nuts. People underestimate women's intelligence and ability to make choices like this. I can't imagine anyone going into a donor relationship uninformed. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • And I love your comment!That is the #1 thing that drives me nuts. People underestimate women's intelligence and ability to make choices like this. I can't imagine anyone going into a donor relationship uninformed. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Thank you so much for sharing! What a blessing you've been able to share so much!

  • Thank you so much for sharing! What a blessing you've been able to share so much!

  • My comment was not about women being smart or stupid, but about adding information to what was stated.You are misinformed, MsinfOrmed. 80% of people infected with hepatitis show no symptoms, and 20% show flu like symptoms, nothing that one would necessarily go to a doctor for. Also, many people with chronic hepatitis do not necessarily show any symptoms until scarring of the liver occurs and in 30% of those, the source of infection is unknown. If a donor's partner has an affair or a past with multiple partners, the donor can be a carrier and not realize it. How many moms put Lanolin on cracked and bleeding nipples? Do they have themselves checked for Hepatitis? Are we sure of our partners monogamy? Or his or her past?There are also many (unlicensed) tattoo parlors where infection with Hepatitis can occur. The rate of Hepatitis among tattooed people is directly linked to the amount of tattoos someone has. Even with proper needle handling, the ink is not kept sterile. The instrument that ears are pierced with at the mall is also not something that can be adequately disinfected either for instance. There have been numerous cases of infection related to those as well.This information should be known so that moms can ask the appropriate and informed questions. Isn't milk sharing about the babies?

  • My comment was not about women being smart or stupid, but about adding information to what was stated.You are misinformed, MsinfOrmed. 80% of people infected with hepatitis show no symptoms, and 20% show flu like symptoms, nothing that one would necessarily go to a doctor for. Also, many people with chronic hepatitis do not necessarily show any symptoms until scarring of the liver occurs and in 30% of those, the source of infection is unknown. If a donor's partner has an affair or a past with multiple partners, the donor can be a carrier and not realize it. How many moms put Lanolin on cracked and bleeding nipples? Do they have themselves checked for Hepatitis? Are we sure of our partners monogamy? Or his or her past?There are also many (unlicensed) tattoo parlors where infection with Hepatitis can occur. The rate of Hepatitis among tattooed people is directly linked to the amount of tattoos someone has. Even with proper needle handling, the ink is not kept sterile. The instrument that ears are pierced with at the mall is also not something that can be adequately disinfected either for instance. There have been numerous cases of infection related to those as well.This information should be known so that moms can ask the appropriate and informed questions. Isn't milk sharing about the babies?

  • Z

    I totally agree- how can intelligent, well informed Mums remain so when the 'information' out there is contradictory or misinformed? It is something that debate really requires, (and commentary on otherwise lovely blogs) to ensure that said intelligent, well informed families remain so 😉

  • Z

    I totally agree- how can intelligent, well informed Mums remain so when the 'information' out there is contradictory or misinformed? It is something that debate really requires, (and commentary on otherwise lovely blogs) to ensure that said intelligent, well informed families remain so 😉

  • First off I want to be clear on a couple of points. 1) I fully support informed milksharing. 2) I don't think that mamas (or daddies) are stupid. I think that parents have great faith in others, especially other mamas that have babies. I think that a lot of parents, even those making the decision to get breastmilk for their infants, have a trust that everything will be alright for their baby. I think that a lot of parents do not do their research. (I am in the medical field and see evidence of this all the time.) Maria has made some excellent points. My hope is that all parents, as potential donor or recipient, will take the time to research milksharing and weigh the risks and benefits for their family. All it is going to take is for one incident to go bad, for the media to get a hold of it and the “authorities” to decide that they need to do something about it. Milksharing sites will be forced underground, woman will be afraid to share milk. It seems impossible but I really don’t think it is. Ms.infOrmed, I agree that many more babies have gotten sick from formula. But that is in part because there are many more babies get formula then donor milk. As for the babies getting their own mother’s milk, the evidence is overwhelming in favor of human milk. That is not the problem here. It is whether parents are getting proper information to make an truly informed decision about milksharing. Of course part of that decision should be weighing the risks and benefits of formula. No disrespect to you Melanie, but many of these moms are going into a donor relationship uninformed or more likely misinformed. That is the point of Maria’s comments. There is a misrepresentation happening that milksharing is perfectly safe. Just look at the donor mama’s baby and you can see everything is ok. (this happens, I know because I have asked moms.) Or ask to see a few tests from months ago and it will let you know everything about their health. The problem is that no one, even the donor mom can be positive that her prenatal tests are still accurate. Affaires happen in late pregnancy, tests are incorrect. Diseases take time to show positive on a lab test. An estimated 4.4million Americans are living with chronic hepatitis; most do not know they are infected. About 80,000 new infections occur each year. In the research article “Retrospective review of serological testing of potential human milk donors” the results of 1091 potential donors 3.3% were positive on screening. These were mothers who viewed themselves as low risk. http://fn.bmj.com/content/95/2/F118.abstractThe recommendation from the CDC is that it is ok to breastfed if you have or have had hepatitis. But this recommendation is for a mother directly breastfeeding her own infant. It is not recommended for milksharing or even donating to a milk bank. As a matter of fact they will screen you out. Again, many of the moms might not even know they are infected. HIV is another concern. Due to the potential for not realizing theat you are infected it can go undetected and untested. The risk of transmitting HIV to a baby by breast milk in the first 90 days after she is infected with HIV is five times higher than if she were already HIV positive during pregnancy. The reason why milk banks screen every sample for HIV. So here are my examples: I had hepatitis. I did not know until a test was done and I was asked about it. Then I remembered an incident, months earlier – Someone asked me if I was jaundiced. I am olive completed, and since I was feeling perfectly fine, I told them no, it is just how I am. Had I been lactating at the time, I would have thought nothing of donating. While it is unlikely that I would have passed it along, it was not 100% risk free. I am personally aware of a mom who was HIV positive and did not know it. She breastfed, she would have donated. Another situation that I am aware of is a situation of an HIV mom privately donating; again she did not know she was positive. The recipient baby ended up HIV positive.

  • I think this is all good information. Thank you for sharing. I agree 100% that moms should not go into donor relationships casually. Being informed on the choices as well as the risks involved is very important.Please don't think I would ever advise a mom to accept milk with out scrutiny. Rereading my post, I do see that there is only one sentence saying moms can request to see tests. Maybe I should have expounded more on that point or at least pointed them to other resources on the topic.

  • Melanie, I would never think that you would tell a mom “hey just ask a neighbor, milk is milk”. I can tell that you would tell them to research it and get as much information as possible. Part of the problem is misconceptions and misdirection about health issues. I see this with both from lay people and medical professionals. The health authorities need to stop being fear mongers and help families to make milk-sharing safer. I hope that medical professionals start getting involved in milksharing, not to squash it but to make it easier for families to find out the answers to these questions and help with testing. Blogs like yours help get the word out and inform moms on the safety issues of making healthy lifestyle choices. By that, I am particularly talking about milksharing. For those that are unable to produce enough [human] milk for their infants, it is a lifestyle choice. They want the best for their babies and know that [human] milk is the normal food for [human] babies. Thank you for helping to educate people. There are many places on the web with information. Eats On Feets [Milksharing Network] has a great guide to get people *started* with links and resource to further explore information. Here is the link: http://www.eatsonfeets.org/#resourceBTW I just found your blog. Love what I have looked at so far and plan on exploring more as I have time. I linked your sourdough pancake recipe to a friend that is playing around with sourdough starter. She is making me some GF starter that I can wait to try.

  • Melanie, I would never think that you would tell a mom “hey just ask a neighbor, milk is milk”. I can tell that you would tell them to research it and get as much information as possible. Part of the problem is misconceptions and misdirection about health issues. I see this with both from lay people and medical professionals. The health authorities need to stop being fear mongers and help families to make milk-sharing safer. I hope that medical professionals start getting involved in milksharing, not to squash it but to make it easier for families to find out the answers to these questions and help with testing. Blogs like yours help get the word out and inform moms on the safety issues of making healthy lifestyle choices. By that, I am particularly talking about milksharing. For those that are unable to produce enough [human] milk for their infants, it is a lifestyle choice. They want the best for their babies and know that [human] milk is the normal food for [human] babies. Thank you for helping to educate people. There are many places on the web with information. Eats On Feets [Milksharing Network] has a great guide to get people *started* with links and resource to further explore information. Here is the link: http://www.eatsonfeets.org/#resourceBTW I just found your blog. Love what I have looked at so far and plan on exploring more as I have time. I linked your sourdough pancake recipe to a friend that is playing around with sourdough starter. She is making me some GF starter that I can wait to try.

  • We seemed to have gotten away from one of the biggest points I was trying to make in this blog post. There is risk in everything, donor milk, formula and homemade formula. It's about weighing those risks and deciding what is best for your family. Just as moms don't go lightly into finding raw milk for their children, they don't go lightly into finding donor milk either. Is there a risk in hepatitis and AIDS? Sure, but it's minimal compared to the benefits. While yes it is possible for a mom to go undiagnosed for a time, what are the chances of it progressing to lesions, let alone sores on her nipples that she wouldn't notice and then pump. If a mom has cracked and bleeding nipples she should not be donating. That is just common sense. I wouldn't and I couldn't imagine any other mother donating milk that has been tainted with blood. Of course that is a question that should be asked of donor moms. To obtain raw milk, you speak to the farmer. You ask about test performed and conditions the cows are kept in. You ask to see the milking station to see if it's clean. You ask about proceedures, how the milk is handled during and after bottling. How is this any safer than questioning a donor mom?I'm not going to argue anymore about this. Moms should use common sense and we shouldn't underestimate their ability to do so.

  • We seemed to have gotten away from one of the biggest points I was trying to make in this blog post. There is risk in everything, donor milk, formula and homemade formula. It's about weighing those risks and deciding what is best for your family. Just as moms don't go lightly into finding raw milk for their children, they don't go lightly into finding donor milk either. Is there a risk in hepatitis and AIDS? Sure, but it's minimal compared to the benefits. While yes it is possible for a mom to go undiagnosed for a time, what are the chances of it progressing to lesions, let alone sores on her nipples that she wouldn't notice and then pump. If a mom has cracked and bleeding nipples she should not be donating. That is just common sense. I wouldn't and I couldn't imagine any other mother donating milk that has been tainted with blood. Of course that is a question that should be asked of donor moms. To obtain raw milk, you speak to the farmer. You ask about test performed and conditions the cows are kept in. You ask to see the milking station to see if it's clean. You ask about proceedures, how the milk is handled during and after bottling. How is this any safer than questioning a donor mom?I'm not going to argue anymore about this. Moms should use common sense and we shouldn't underestimate their ability to do so.

  • My fourth baby just turned one. During her first year of life she had donor milk from 21 sharing mommies and homemade goats milk formula when donated milk wasn't available. I carefully a screened my donors, but none of them were ever medically tested. We made the decision to go this route because of our experience with our other children. I have IGT. I breastfeed as much as possible, but I am never able to make all that my babies need. With our first baby, we supplemented with formula. As a result, he had debilitating constipation that needed medical intervention on many occasions. My second baby drank formula from the same lot of formula that came from China and was tainted with melamine. My child was fortunate enough to live through it. Some other babies did not, if you recall. So, given our past problems with formula, you might understand why we chose the route we did. And I am at perfect peace with the choices we made.

  • My fourth baby just turned one. During her first year of life she had donor milk from 21 sharing mommies and homemade goats milk formula when donated milk wasn't available. I carefully a screened my donors, but none of them were ever medically tested. We made the decision to go this route because of our experience with our other children. I have IGT. I breastfeed as much as possible, but I am never able to make all that my babies need. With our first baby, we supplemented with formula. As a result, he had debilitating constipation that needed medical intervention on many occasions. My second baby drank formula from the same lot of formula that came from China and was tainted with melamine. My child was fortunate enough to live through it. Some other babies did not, if you recall. So, given our past problems with formula, you might understand why we chose the route we did. And I am at perfect peace with the choices we made.

  • Whew! Your story story gave me goosebumps. Thank you for sharing! You bring up another excellent point about the safety of commercial formula and I'm so glad your sweet baby made it through.

  • Shreela

    This post reminded me of one of China’s earthquakes, when a female police officer noticed mothers were distressed because supply lines were blocked and couldn’t get formulas for their babies.
    http://articles.cnn.com/2008-05-22/world/china.breastfeed_1_feed-babies-breast-feeds-breast-milk?_s=PM:WORLD

    Well here’s my story: my son had congenital nephrotic syndrome – renal failure at birth. The filter holes of his nephrons were too big, allowing important proteins to pass into his urine, including most immuno-globulins, weakening his immune system considerably. Since he had to live at the hospital until he grew big enough to receive one of my kidneys, his drs had me pump, mostly to supplement his immune system, even if only temporarily.

    As time went on, complications threatened him, his kidneys loosing too many other important proteins, so it was time to remove the damaged kidneys and dialysis him until transplant surgery was possible. By this time, my milk was dwindling, so they supplemented with a special renal formula once he recovered from the nephrectomy.

    He was doing quite well once recovered from the big surgery until he started acting cranky and refused his formula. I knew something was wrong and became pushy about them testing what was wrong. The next day or so, there was a big team of infectious disease drs consulting on him, as well as an infection control team of drs/nurses trying to figure out why he became infected with a resistant strain of klebsiella pneumoniae, an organism that had never been found in Hermann Memorial NICU before (that’s why there were so many infection-control drs/nurses in the NICU, according to the dr in charge of NICU)!

    A few years later, I was reading about another baby with congenital nephrotic syndrome in either New Mexico or Arizona. As I read her parents’ webpage, I noticed she also became infected with klebsiella pneumoniae!

    Really, how many babies with the same rare medical condition become infected with the same bacteria that’s supposedly unusual to be in NICUs (at least back then)?

    It took me a bit of searching (this was over 10 years ago, when the web wasn’t as robust as now), but I did indeed find that a specialty formula manufacturer had been busted by the powers that be for klebsiella pneumoniae being in their equipment more than once! One would hope that making formulas for sick babies would take extra steps to be clean, but apparently that’s hoping for too much.

    Now it’s difficult for me to find supporting links because there’s been so many k.pneumonia outbreaks, as well as melamine contamination in formula, but here’s one:
    http://www.breastfeeding.com/advocacy/advocacy_recalls.html

    Lessons from my story: 1) Even small amounts of breastmilk are considered important to drs caring for a baby with a challenged immune system, and 2) formula manufacturers selling to hospitals can’t keep their formulas free of infection (and/or contaminants) all the time.

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