Breast feeding is certainly the way that nature intended for us to feed our babies. The medical literature is clear that there are many advantages to breastfeeding including a reduction in respiratory infections and ear infections. Of course the sheer joy of nursing your baby is beyond compare. I would love to have another baby even if only for the chance to breastfeed again. But what does someone do if they have a poor milk supply or are cannot breastfeed for some reason such as mastectomy, lack of glandular tissue in the breast or have adopted a baby?
Luckily there are things that can be done in these situations. Women that feel they are not producing enough milk often need only increase the amount of water they are drinking or need to eat more regularly. New moms get so busy they can neglect to take the time to care for themselves. If you don’t eat and drink it will be hard for your breasts to produce milk for your baby. Sometimes the problem will lie in how the baby is latching on or how some other aspect of nursing is going. There is great advice at Ask Lenore to resolve these problems. Lenore Goldfarb is a lactation educator and and co-author of the book “Dr. Jack Newman’s Guide to Breastfeeding”. In the US the title is “The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers”. Dr. Newman is a renowned breastfeeding expert. I don’t want to forget to mention the La Leche League International who also have lots of resources to help support breastfeeding moms.
Adoptive parents also want the benefits of breast milk for their babies. Lenore Goldfarb and Dr. Newman have developed a protocol to induce lactation in women that have not been pregnant so that they can breastfeed their babies. Apparently lots of women have great success with this method. I recently read an article in Newsweek that told about the increased demand on milk banks these days. Part of that is from adoptive parents and mothers who cannot breastfeed due to physical limitations. Milk banks collect and pasteurize milk from donor mothers to be distributed to babies that have need of breast milk. Traditionally these have been babies born prematurely whose mothers are not yet producing their own milk (premature babies digest breast milk more readily than formula) but times are changing and more and more parents are realizing how important breast milk is for their babies and so are seeking out this precious resource.
Getting milk from milk banks is very costly so some parents have resorted to finding breastfeeding moms who are willing to share their excess breast milk through sites such as Milk Share. I totally understand why someone would want only breast milk for their baby but I worry about the risks involved with this kind of thing. There are a lot of illnesses and toxins that can be passed through breast milk.
I think that I would only be comfortable accepting milk for my baby from someone that I knew REALLY well! Of course I have never been in a position where I couldn’t breastfeed my baby. What would you do if you wanted to have breast milk for your baby and you couldn’t produce it yourself?