Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Safety of Milk Sharing (Kim)

One of the first questions we have received in regards to the milk sharing is the safety. Safety is definitely a must to consider.

There are a few layers to this question.

The first layer is that mothers/parents are responsible for understanding the methods of infant feedings they have available to them, including the risks and benefits. It is the responsibility of the mother/parents to make an INFORMED choice in regards to their infants nutrition and well-being. The feeding methods may include but would not be limited to do breastmilk from the mother, banked donor milk, informal milk sharing, wet nurses and commercial artificial infant drink.

Mothers/parents should have an open line of communication with donors. The opportunity to ask questions about their health and lifestyle, and by requesting blood screening test results is a must.
Many milk-sharing relationships are between friends, such as the case with Becky and I, so there is some history there as far as lifestyle goes. We had the opportunity to discuss my medical history, any medications or herbs I might be taking, and diet. If there was a concern with any of this Becky could decide how comfortable she was in using my milk.

As expecting mothers, woman are screened for a variety of illnesses, during their prenatal care. These tests are for the same illnesses that there might be concerns around re: milk sharing. These tests results can be shared with the mother/parents and can/should be repeated periodically during the milk sharing. Keep in mind most ill and unhealthy mothers would not have a plentiful enough supply to be able to donate nor would most, if any, in that position would offer.

In the event of some of the further donors where the donor and mother are not friends the basis above still stands. The opportunities to discuss the status of the donor is there still. Again it comes down the mother getting herself informed and making an informed choice with that information.

Safe handling of the donor milk is very important as well. Mothers/parents and donors should handle milk with clean hands and equipment and use proper storage methods at all time.

Lastly, if mothers/parents have doubts, they can pasteurize milk at home; on the stove-top as a way to inactivate HIV or using a single bottle pasteurizer that performs the Holder method of pasteurization.

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