It Takes a Village: Human Milk Sharing Answers the Formula Vs. Breast Milk Dilemma - Moms Across America

It Takes a Village: Human Milk Sharing Answers the Formula Vs. Breast Milk Dilemma

“Fed is Best” may be the biggest lie in all Big Formula marketing – of which there are many. Formula companies spend billions on promotion and much of their efforts target mothers and medical professionals in hospitals, urging supplementation of formula in the first few days after birth, based on the false premise that all post-partum moms are under-producing. The resulting often unnecessary supplementation then signals the mother’s breasts to underproduce during the time the lactation system is ramping up for the duration of babyhood – a self fulfilling sabotage of mothers who otherwise would have exclusively breastfed (more than 80% plan to).

Then what? Synthetic formula is said to come to the rescue! But contaminants, nutrient deficiencies, allergens, and toxic ingredients in formula have driven more parents to seek out human milk from milk banks or private donors to provide their babies with the real deal. Demand for donor milk has increased 15% since March 2021, according to Mother's Milk Bank Northeast.

The US has 24 milk banks – something most people don’t even know exist – distributing around 6 million ounces of breast milk a year (other countries have many more). This supply can not keep up with the demand, however, because premature infants in hospitals require real human milk to survive, leaving little to go around for the moms of full-term babies who were duped by formula supplementation in the first place.

We are the village that it takes to raise children well, and if we work together, we can increase access to real, life-giving human milk for all babies. Enter the private milk donation phenomenon – as ancient as humanity itself, as our ancestors commonly breastfed each other’s babies, when needed.

Eats on Feets is an organization that provides resources and guidance to parents and caregivers who seek raw human milk from “the village.” They do not endorse any order of priority for the sharing of breastmilk, unlike milk banks who must prioritize low-birth-weight babies. There does not need to be a medical indication for a parent to request or receive breastmilk on behalf of their child. “Requests can be made even if the baby is healthy and/or over the age of 24 months,” their website states. Arranging access to human milk privately also allows you to select donors who have not had mRNA injections.

Milk from a human milk bank is typically pasteurized before being distributed to infants in need. Pasteurization is a process that involves heating the milk to a specific temperature for a set period of time to destroy potentially harmful bacteria and viruses while retaining most of the milk's nutritional and immunological properties.

The differences in real breast milk and formula are stark and often, statistically speaking, the difference between life and death. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of sudden infant death by 50-70%. The long-term benefits are equally compelling both in reduction of disease and increased IQ. In part, this is because breast milk contains living stem cells, which make for the ultimate repair and build tools because they can be turned into any cell needed in the baby’s body. Breast milk also contains antibodies, acting as the baby’s immune system before one is fully in place (by the age of 5 years). Breast milk can even improve sleep issues. All of this culminates into the criticality of access to human milk over formula. Statistically, 800,000 babies who die each year could have been saved by breast milk. Research generally indicates positive outcomes for infants who receive human milk, regardless of whether it comes from a milk bank or the baby's mother. These benefits include reduced risk of infections, improved growth and development, and better long-term health outcomes.

There are mountains of studies highlighting the components of breast milk that make it essential for babies, but one component that can be overlooked but certainly contributes to the healthier outcomes measured in breastfed babies is the increase in overall physical touch. Breastfed babies are held more fueling brain growth and physical and mental development. One reason for this is Oxytocin (OT) – often called the body’s own “love drug” or the “cuddle hormone,” because it decreases blood pressure and reduces activity in the sympathetic autonomic system, making one feel “cuddly.” More OT is released more often in breastfed babies, which may be one reason why breastfed babies score higher in social intelligence as adults.

Animal studies show babies are setting up the neuronal receptors for oxytocin early in life, meaning that they are literally able to activate more of the love hormone throughout life. In sync with babies, nursing moms also create more oxytocin receptors, which may explain one reason women become more nurturing, not just with their children, but in general, after having them.

They say it takes a village to raise a healthy child, and sharing the miraculous human milk that every baby needs is one beautiful way to participate in building healthier communities. Find a milk bank, donate your breast milk, or find a private donor.

For more resources on everything new parents need to know, visit our Future Moms page.

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  • Preston Lee
    commented 2024-04-03 15:57:45 -0400
    Hm, What about vaccinated mothers- seemed to be some concern there about giving babies breast milk from vaccinated mothers.
    milk bank- wet nurse
  • angela braden
    published this page in Blog 2024-04-03 12:12:16 -0400

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