But let’s take a look:
I haven’t heard anything in the news lately about human milk contamination. Have you? I do remember a recall of infant formula, however, about a year ago after a baby died from bacteria in powdered Enfamil. (The baby-dies-from-breast-milk deaths in the news are almost exclusively from drugs in a baby’s own mother’s milk.) Contaminated steroid shots? Sure. Contaminated donor breast milk? Not very often.
It’s true, though. There are, certainly, safety concerns. There’s whatever might be in the donor milk itself. There’s risk of it not being handled correctly and bacteria growing. There’s the chance of a hypersensitivity reaction from baby, no doubt. But most people who are mindful enough to either receive or donate breast milk are going to take the time to be cautious and considerate.
Milk banks pasteurize their donations as an additional layer of caution, and parents can always perform pasteurization at home of milk they receive independently.
In short: It’s usually safe if done safely, and there’s plenty of information about how to share safely.
One member of our family of six is a great-niece, a foster daughter who has lived with us since she was 2 months old. Since I was lactating enough for a 6-month-old baby then, I offered my foster daughter my breast as well. For various reasons, mostly her oral-motor deficits, she was unable to nurse long or effectively. The lactation consultant whose advice I sought told me, “Even one (breast-milk) feeding is better than none. You’re doing a good thing for her.”
Glad I shared then, and I encourage you to read up and share now.
Goshen News columnist Stephanie Price is a wife, mother, teacher, childbirth educator, midwife’s assistant and nursing student from Elkhart. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, 269-641-7249 or on Facebook at the page “Whole Family Column by Steph Price.”