‘Breast Milk Donations Pour in for Baby After Dad’s Facebook Plea,’ reads the headline of a story I happen to come across online. Okay, they got me. Click.
According to the story, the dad asked for breast milk donations for his infant son when his wife, who had planned to breastfeed the baby until he turned one-year-old, died suddenly in a car crash. Fulfilling his wife’s wish to have his son drink breast milk until the one-year mark is the dad’s way of honoring her.
Wow. What can I say? On one hand, I really commend this dad for meaning well, but at the same time, I can’t escape feeling that he’s being too literal. I’m thinking when his wife set out to breastfeed their son for a year she meant her breast milk. Not any Jane Schmoe with two boobies and milk to give. I start thinking about whether the donor mom drinks and drugs or lives off of the Britney Spears Cheetos and cheeseburger diet. What if they have a disease? And yes, I know that during slavery we breastfed our Mistress’s babies all the time, but still, they knew where and how we lived, this feels so random.
I mean, why doesn’t he just use formula?
As soon as the words come out of my mouth I want to snatch them back. Formula? Now that’s a real, Eww. Formula is like margarine. You use it when there’s no chance you can have butter. It was reading about formula that scared me into breastfeeding my two kids. For one, it’s filled with corn syrup, which is the leading cause of diabetes, and formula-fed babies are like Sumo wrestlers compared to breast fed babies because of all the extra stuff they put into it. Studies even show that obese adults were likely to have been fed formula. And let’s not forget formula-fed babies have a harder time digesting it, causing them to have upset stomachs, colic and diarrhea. Then there’s cow milk, which is no better. If your child is under one-year-old the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you steer clear of it.
Think about it this way, cow’s milk is made for a calf. It’s got high levels of protein, sodium, and potassium that a baby’s system can’t handle, and at the same time, it doesn’t provide enough vitamin E, iron and essential fatty acids. And we won’t even bring up Mad Cow disease. Bottom line, it’s just not meant for our babies.
Okay, so I get how this dad’s hands could be tied.
I share the story with my husband and while his first reaction was similar to mine, he also brought up the fact that this dad probably did his research and surely he’s not accepting milk from random women running up to him on the street. Fair enough.
I do a Google search on breastfeeding other people’s babies and discover something I didn’t know. There are milk donation banks, many located right in the hospital, where women donate breast milk. It plays a key role in the survival of premies and other sick babies who are less likely to get infections and recover faster on breast milk. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that donor milk be used as the standard of care for all babies in neonatal intensive care units if their own mother’s milk is unavailable. As for the safety of this milk? Milk banks screen potential donors, collect and pasteurize the milk and distribute it to hospitals.
What a relief! Though the article doesn’t specify it, I’m going to assume that this dad is going through the proper channels to assure this is quality milk. And how much respect do I have for this man who doesn’t have to do this. His world has been turned upside down these past few months with the sudden death of his wife; not only is he a new dad, he’s a single one at that. Putting out an S.O.S. for breast milk is probably the last thing that he would rather be doing. It’s not convenient. Yet he does it. Maybe more women who for whatever reasons can’t breastfeed their own babies can look into this as an alternative. Obviously, there are women willing to donate. It really comes down to the value we think it will bring. I commend this dad for doing this for his son. That’s love.
Check out Erickka Sy Savané’s column, Pop Mom, right here on Madamenoire. Before Erickka became a writer/editor, she was a model, actress, and MTV VJ. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Jersey City. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.