We, as moms, want to provide the very best nutrition for our babies. How we choose to do that -- breast milk or formula -- is our personal decision.
But what about the moms who, for whatever reason, are unable to breastfeed or pump and do not want to give their infants formula? Those moms may opt to acquire donor breast milk. In some cases, a tragedy will prompt the necessity for donor milk. For example, if a mom dies in child birth and nursing was important to her, friends and relatives may rally to find breast milk for the newborn.The Food and Drug Administration is warning women against acquiring breast milk via the internet or from another individual who hasn't been thoroughly screened. We have to remember that because breast milk is a bodily fluid, diseases like HIV could be passed along to a baby. Also, some prescription drugs and all illegal drugs are passed through breast milk. No mom wants to harm her baby with tainted milk so it is important to know the risks associated with obtaining donor milk from any old source. Unfortunately, this is often a time of desperation.
The good news, though, is that there are legitimate milk banks established for this exact purpose. The Texas-based Human Milk Banking Association of North America and National Milk Bank are good resources to locate a milk bank for your needs. Milk banks are especially useful in helping nourish premature infants. You could also call your State Department to give you information about milk banks in your area.
In general, donors are screened to make sure they are healthy, non-smokers and non-drug users. There is often a pretty strict screening process so ensure that recipients are getting the best breast milk possible.
The process used to ensure milk is up to par is pasteurization. Then samples are taken to ensure no bacteria has begun growing. Several suppliers' milk may be mixed together in a bottle. The milk is then frozen and shipped to its destination.
Wet nursing is as old as time. There were mentions of wet nurses in the Bible. Donor milk is less intimate, of course, and can help children nationwide.
If you know someone who would has an abundance of liquid gold, you might want to suggest to them that they, too, could be a milk donor. It's a lot less painful than being a blood donor and could save a life too!