I’m not sure if you watched This Morning yesterday, but they were discussing feeding your baby with a strangers breast milk.
If you want to watch the video before reading this post then you can do so now:
What Irritated Me About This
The thing that immediately irritated me slightly about this was that bottle-feeding got brought up pretty early on. I have no idea why Ruth even made the comment “there’ll be mothers who’ll say their babies are thriving on formula.”
I’ll admit that this comment did come after one mother said that they’re both thriving. But either way, I don’t know what formula feeding has to do with this topic?
There’s no real need to bring it up. I understand that babies can thrive and be perfectly fine on formula milk. But that’s not why these two mothers are here. They’re here to talk about the concept of providing a baby with a strangers breastmilk. There’s no debate about whether bottles are fine, whether breast is best, or anything like that. They clearly want their babies to have breastmilk, which is completely their choice, and this is how they’ve chosen to do it.
And then there’s the comment section on This Morning’s Facebook page. Which was essentially a lot of people saying they were shaming bottle feeding mothers. Which is ludicrous. This is another case of something being turned into a breast vs bottle debate for absolutely no reason.
Is There Anything Wrong With Feeding a Baby a Strangers Breast Milk?
No. Basically. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeding your baby via a strangers breast milk. At least in my opinion.
We already drink milk from a cow, among other animals, so having it from a fellow human should be fine. I dare say if I made a cake using Rachel’s milk, people wouldn’t want to eat it. On the other hand, had I used cow’s milk, it’s suddenly fine. It is a little bit weird when you really think about it.
I’d have no problem with Isabelle feeding directly off another woman via her breast. So by that logic I’d have no problem with feeding her the milk that’s been bagged either. But my main issue has nothing to do with whether it’s weird, or if there’s anything wrong with the idea, it’s about the safety.
The Main Issue Should Be Safety
My main issue with this whole topic is the safety behind it. I’m not 100% sure I’d be up for doing this purely down to the fact that I couldn’t say for sure if the milk was stored correctly. I’m not there when they do it, I don’t see how they do it, I’m just putting my trust in a stranger. I dare say if they’re local you could pay them a visit and see how it’s done. But you’re still trusting a lot in that person.
They did have Dr. Sarah Steele on the show to talk about the potential risks to giving a baby a strangers breast milk. And of course, she’s absolutely right that bacterial and toxicity risks should be looked at. There’s the ultimate risk of death, at least in extreme cases, but then there’s just the risk of them getting sick in general. I think she did scaremonger slightly, but then she’s a doctor.
There are ways around that. You could find a milk bank via UKAMB website. This of course is done safely, and you should be able to guarantee that the milk is safe for the babies consumption. You can even donate breast milk yourself if you feel like supporting mothers who still want to give their babies breastmilk.
But Is It Really Worth All the Effort?
The last part should be pretty simple. Is it really worth all the effort of obtaining a strangers breast milk when you can just formula feed? Don’t get me wrong, I’ll admit that I’m a big supporter of breastfeeding. I think all mothers should at least try it, unless medically unable, and more support should be out there to help mothers through it.
But at the end of the day, formula feeding is a fine alternative if you feel like you want to do it. It might not be quite as beneficial. At least not in the short term, the long term is up for debate. But I don’t think I would personally go seeking a strangers breast milk had Rachel not wanted to do it herself. Of course we might have tried using regulated banks, at least until she was able to do it herself.
However, I don’t really see that as something I’d want to do long term. It just seems like way too much hassle.
Rachel on the other hand, would much prefer to use breastmilk than formula. So this is something she’d very much want to do. Luckily though, we’re not in that position as she’s able and willing to breastfeed herself.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one. Would you be up for feeding your baby via a strangers breast milk? Or would you just go with formula milk?