Plan B. Is Milk Sharing Recommended?

Pregnant Belly with fingers Heart symbol. Beautiful Young PregnaAmerican Academy of Pediatrics

Ari Brown, M.D. "We support breastfeeding, but if you can't nurse, we recommend breast milk from a milk bank, or that you use formula."  She added, "Even if you have a good friend who wants to donate milk, you can't guarantee that it's free of infections, like HIV. Breast milk is a bodily fluid, just like blood. Would you be willing to give your baby a blood transfusion without first having it tested?”…    

So what happens if I wanted to breastfeed and things don’t work the way that it had planned?

Once, I had the opportunity to meet this male friend from another country, who after a couple of weeks told me ‘I have 2 mothers’, he said: My biologic mother raised me and my brothers, I love her so much, but I also have a mother from the heart that breastfed me when I was born because my mom couldn’t do it, I love her and visit her every time I can. At his 30 years old he still feels that bonding with the woman who breastfed him.

I was working in the hospital when I got to a post- partum mother room, I asked her “do you need any help with breastfeeding ?” She answered “ No thanks, I’m fine. My sister already did it for me”. That’s an answer that we don’t hear often. Different cultures have different ways to solve the same situation that many times may sound inappropriate for us, but is completely fine for them.

Personally in both of my pregnancies I read, did some research, and learned as much as I could. Sometimes I read more than I really wanted to know. Like the fact that a small percentage of mothers have complications during delivery and need to be apart from their babies; nobody wants to think about that but I did anyway (crazy me), so I decided to have a plan B.

Breastfeeding my babies was always my first option…but what if I wasn’t there? Well, in my wish list during pregnancy I always picked one or two breastfeeding mothers that I knew very well as a backup to breastfeed my babies: my sister in law, and a very close friend of mine. I talked to them and asked them if they would be willing to do that for my babies. The bonding part of breastfeeding is very important for me.  This is a NOT recommended practice due for the transmission of illness that can put infant's life at risk. There are other ways to bond with a baby and use donated human milk from Milk Bank as recommended by the American Academic of Pediatrics.

Lucky for me things worked out well, I had plenty of breast milk and I was always available to breastfeed my babies, or pump when I was working.

Another friend tried to donate her milk to a milk bank download (2)and she gave up when her doctor never returned her all the papers that she needed to fill up for the Milk Bank. Before her expressed breast milk pass the recommended time of storage, She offered it to a friend who couldn't breastfeed her baby and since she had that expressed breast milk stored in her Freezer; she asked her if she would like to give it to her baby. 3 days later the second mother said that her husband didn’t like the idea and didn’t accept her breast milk.Another very happy mother went to pick it up the Expressed Breast Milk to her home 2 weeks later from very far away.

Precaution is needed in collecting, storing and handling express breast milk.

More information:

http://kellymom.com/bf/pumpingmoms/milkstorage/milkstorage/

…The majority of the medical community warnsmilk bankagainst milk sharing altogether.Ari Brown, M.D.,a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and author of Baby 411, gave this advice on parenting.com:

"We support breastfeeding, but if you can't nurse, we recommend breast milk from a milk bank, or that you use formula."  She added, "Even if you have a good friend who wants to donate milk, you can't guarantee that it's free of infections, like HIV. Breast milk is a bodily fluid, just like blood. Would you be willing to give your baby a blood transfusion without first having it tested?”…    

So what are the options when breastfeeding doesn’t work right away?

Look for help immediately from a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or

Certified Lactation Educator (CLE)

Priorities are:

  • Feed baby!!!
  • Help mother to build and save her milk supply.

As long as the mother is able to stablish her milk supply, she will be able to work in latching her baby on breast. A Lactation Consultant has many ways to teach a mother to feed her baby with a breastfeeding-friendly alternative that will be helpful to work in re-lactation. The sooner the mother starts working with the Lactation Consultant, the easier it will be to re-lactate infant.

  • Continue helping baby to breastfeed, work in re-lactation

The recommendations to feed baby are:

#1 baby’s mother expressed breast milk when available. Most hospitals in US have electric Hospital Grade Breast Pumps available for mothers to start pumping when breastfeeding directly is not possible or until breastfeeding is well established.

During the first days after baby is born hand expression of breast milk can help to increase quantity of milk expressed. See this link for a video about hand expression of breast milk technique: http://youtu.be/BOJD82jHty8

Option #2 use donated breast milk. Breast milk from Milk Bank Donation

For more information, read this article about Breastfeeding and the use of Human milk from the American Academic of Pediatrics from 2012: http://www2.aap.org/breastfeeding/files/pdf/Breastfeeding2012ExecSum.pdf

Milk Bank map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?ll=40.647304,-97.207031&t=m&source=embed&ie=UTF8&msa=0&spn=31.887674,56.25&z=4&hl=en&mid=zsx1-901TGmI.k6xDAbJhkJwo

Option #3 artificial baby milk. This is the last option when all the other alternatives don’t work. It will help the baby to get basic nutrients to grow, while will not protect infant again illnesses. Doctors and parents need to work together in a good way to build infant immune system. But definitely can save a baby life while mother can continue work in stablishing her milk supply and re-lactation.

As the same way you ask for different pediatrician’s information to get ready before your baby is born we suggest you to look for a Lactation Consultant in your Area, just in case extra help is needed.

What else you can do?

Prenatally:

Get ready to breastfeed go to Prenatal Breastfeeding classes, we offer FREE breastfeeding classes ONLINE!!! Click here:  http://www.bfclassonline.com/events/

Read Breastfeeding books

Look for mothers who had a successful experience breastfeeding their babies.

Check for Professional Breastfeeding Websites like

www.breasttimeoflife.com

www.kellymom.com

www.llli.org

and Facebook groups:

https://www.facebook.com/breasttimeoflife

https://www.facebook.com/latchmd

https://www.facebook.com/kellymomdotcom

Look for a Lactation Consultant in your area who could visit you in the hospital, at home or help you in her office: Breast Time of Life is offering breastfeeding Consultations in the Santa Clarita Area. Check this link for Lactation Consultant in your Area:

http://uslca.org/resources/find-a-lactation-consultant#!directory/map/tag=santa%20Clarita/rad=X

If you have an especial concern you can have a prenatal visit and ask your lactation consultant how to be ready before your baby is born. You will be surprise how many things you can do and are available for especial situations.

Post-Partum:

Look for breastfeeding Support groups:

Breast time of Life is offering a Breastfeeding Support group Online:  http://www.bfclassonline.com/events/

La Leche League International offers monthly breastfeeding Support Group in person worldwide: www.llli.org

In US the WIC Suplemental Nutritional Program for low income families(Women, Infant and Children)offers Nutritional Consultations, Prenatal Breastfeeding Classes, Breastfeeding Support Groups, Lactation experts who can help for free to those who qualify to receive this amazing benefit:

http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/wicworks/Pages/AboutWICandHowtoApply.aspx

Is there any Human Milk Bank available in your area? 

Do you know the Lactation Consultant close to your home?

Where is a Breastfeeding Support group around you?

Do you have a plan B?

Written by Paula Ines Laria-Rosello BS, IBCLC