Sharing Breastmilk

Erin - posted on 04/06/2010 ( 39 moms have responded )

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So I just started babysitting my 5 week old niece for my sister ( she is still in school right now ) and although she is breastfeeding she hasnt been able to pump much out ( she's stressed I think that might have something to do with it ) so while she is here I have to give her half formula half pumped milk, would it be okay to give her some of my pumped milk ( i have an abundance)? I asked my sister and she said she thinks it would be "weird" but I think it would be alright. Is it okay to share milk ( i dont really see why not ) and how can I get her to come around to the idea? I just want her baby to have the best

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Emily - posted on 04/12/2010

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if she thinks it is weird then it is. Nice of u to offer. what a nice sister. she can take domperidon medication (perscribed) to increase her supply. I took it when my baby was a newborn and my millk was not in. It worked great!

Kellee - posted on 04/12/2010

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I think if you are all comfortable with it, it would be ok... I have 7 week old twin girls, and also have low milk supply... I am highly jealous of all you mommies out there with plenty of milk for your babies, lol! :-) I live near Denver, and one of our hospitals that specializes in high risk births has a breast milk bank that you can get donated breastmilk from if you can't produce enough... so I think sharing is fine if everyone involved feels good about it... I would also consider asking the pediatrician, just in case. :-)

Natalie - posted on 04/12/2010

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I think breast feeding is such a magical wonderful action of love, even if it's not for your own baby. Just don't push your sister into anything she doesn't agree. But back in the day people did it all the time and in some countries they even have breast milk banks, where you donate you breast milk to children who need it.. I would sure do it if necessary. I think you are a wonderful aunt!

[deleted account]

Erin- I'd like to know how the situation turns out. This thread actually prompted to me to offer to express milk for my SIL's baby now that she's returned to work and is facing the same situation that your sister is with her pumping supply.

Shannon - posted on 04/12/2010

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I would go back to your sister and just say, "I'm willing to do it, but you have to make the call. i won't be offended if you say no, or if you feel weird about it."
You need the momma to be comfortable with it and give her the chance to say no and not worry about offending you.
That being said, you are so sweet and generous to offer that. I would do it, but PLEASE make sure mom is completely comfortable with it before you do it.

Fiona - posted on 04/12/2010

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Hi Erin

Its a good idea, but if your sister says no then you should let it be. I noticed on a lot of the posts donated milk is mentioned, I have donated milk and the process is that the milk banks pasteurise it, before another baby has it whereas yours would be fresh which is good, but if your sister agrees to it check with the health care team that this is acceptable. Hope this helps.

Eileen - posted on 04/11/2010

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Have you asked if she feels wierd drinking milk from a cow? Actually a lot of mom's who have extra milk donate it through the various milk banks where it goes to premies and kids who have a medical need and can get a prescription for it or people share their extra through milkshare which is a tad more informal. Main requirements are that you're not on any meds, drug and disease free etc... If my sister were lactating I'd be perfectly happy letting her supplement if my milk hadn't come in. I read a study that found even one bottle of formula changes the ratio of the different types of gut bacteria and alters the stomach pH and it takes up to a month to settle back out so I won't be supplementing. If she's not making enough milk for the kid (not enough wet diapers etc) she should check with a lactation consultant or LLL league. A lot of first time moms think they don't have enough when they're just misreading cues and the kid's just cranky, tired, overstimulated etc and not actually hungry.... The trick is to just keep them on as much as possible to get the supply up. I hand express after each feeding to make sure I'm totally dry so my supply doesn't go down and that might help her gets hers improved.

Rachel - posted on 04/11/2010

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Regarding her production, she should drink A LOT of water daily and eat as much oatmeal as she can stand- a bowl in the morning and cookies/granola bars throughout the day along with the mother's milk tea.

Jennifer - posted on 04/10/2010

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If it would help...WHO states that breastmilk is the preferred food for infants. Formula should not be the second choice - it should be down around 4th or 5th when possible. "For those few health situations where infants cannot, or should not, be breastfed, the choice of the best alternative – expressed breast milk from an infant’s own mother,
breast milk from a healthy wet-nurse or a human-milk bank, or a breast-milk substitute fed with a cup, which is a safer method than a feeding bottle and teat – depends on individual circumstances." (World Health Organization: Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding: http://whqlibdoc.who.int/publications/20...)

Jeramie - posted on 04/10/2010

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I think sharing breastmilk is not as weird as humans drinking cow's milk. At least it was made for humans. For centuries mothers would hire a wet nurse to feed their child rather than nurse it themselves.

SuAnne - posted on 04/10/2010

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You're a very generous sister and it's great that you are thinking of doing this. The only thing that you might want to look into is: by the time your child is around 6 months, your milk changes to produce more carbohydrates instead of proteins to accommodate with your child's nutritional needs. Also when pumping, the foremilk (the early portion that's more clear) has the most nutrients while the hind milk (the thicker milkier parts) has more fat to keep baby's tummy from being too hungry. I had to work with a lactation consultant in my early days of BF and she explained a lot to me.

Fiona - posted on 04/10/2010

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I had a friend who had issues with her baby feeding properly (he had lost 900grams in the first 5 days!) from the breast so she had to express and feed him breast milk via a bottle but because he was only 5 days old her milk was barely there. 4 of her close friends (including me) were also breast feeding and we all expressed like crazy to help her out. Within a week her baby had put on 400grams and bubs was doing great - breast milk is incredible stuff. The midwife said it was up to her to either give him other breast milk or formula but breast is always best if you can get it. AT the time my son was 7 months old - he didn't miss out on any as he had well and truly started solids by then. All breast milk is sterile and breast milk from different mothers will boost the immunity of the baby massively as each mother has built up her own immunity and this then passes on through her mik. I was more than happy to help out and she was extremely thankful to her sons 'special milk mummys'! I think to express milk and give it to your niece (with your sisters permission of course) is absolutely fine but i understand that some women get a bit weirded out about other women actually breastfeeding their child as that is 'their special bond'. I really hope she comes around - just be cautious as she may be feeling jealous that you are ableto give her daughter something she can't.

Good luck!

Jennifer - posted on 04/09/2010

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there would be a slight difference in the composition, but it would still be way better than formula. firstly, at least it is from the same species and has the appropriate protien and sugar types and levels, and you can just bet those dairy cows that have made the milk the formula is made from have been lactating a lot longer than 7 months!



Formula is donor milk too, but it's from an entirely different species! And cow's milk is for cows, not people. there are very significant differences.



A benefit perhaps your sis hasn't thought of: you are making antibodies to the microbes in your environment, where her baby is spending lots of time. if the babe gets your milk, she gets your antibodies too.



There are a ton of benefits of donor milk over formula, but your sister has to be ok with it. you can check out hmbna.org for more info on milk sharing.

Karen Sue - posted on 04/09/2010

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Wow, Renae. That is truly the village raising the child. What a wonderful way to embrace and support that grieving family.

Renae - posted on 04/09/2010

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I think it's been covered plenty of ways, but I wanted to add another story. I live in a rural area, not anywhere near a "milk bank." We had a mom who passed in childbirth and several other mothers who had recently had babes donated some of their milk to her child for the first year of life. It is so heartening to see a dad who just experienced this devastating loss to consider the best thing for his child.

Karen Sue - posted on 04/09/2010

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I think it's a great idea. My milk supply is fine, but pumping doesn't produce nearly as much as actually breastfeeding, so my daughter now gets a supplemental bottle at least once a day while I am at work. I haven't given up pumping, but I produce only 2-3 ounces each time I pump (from what I have read and been told, this is normal and not at all indicative of actual milk supply), and my daughter takes at least 7 ounces at a time.

What I am getting at is, if I knew someone else who was breastfeeding who had an overabundance of milk, I'd be overjoyed knowing my child was getting the nourishment she's meant to have rather than that supplemental bottle of formula daily.

[deleted account]

I would. I am secretly sad my sister would rather feed her baby formula then my breastmilk. I have some breastmilk that has been frozen and will go bad before it gets used.. I would rather give my baby breastmilk no matter who's it is. But when I was younger (my sisters age) I don't think I would of felt this way

Toni - posted on 04/09/2010

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It is fine to share milk. There are even milk banks (like blood banks) in some areas. If she feels weird, remind her it is just pumped milk. Even though I have to supplement, I still think breast milk is better than formula. In some cultures is is common to have someone else breast feed your baby. "Wet nurses" were commonly used in some areas.

Kirsty - posted on 04/09/2010

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Better for her to have human milk from her sister than an animal based milk powder product from a cow!!!

Tanya - posted on 04/09/2010

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Its good that u want to help, it is wierd but if it benefits her then it can only be a good thing.

Brooke - posted on 04/09/2010

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Well I could understand why she might be ambivalent about the idea. But, I really don't think it's weird. I mean, women even donate their breast milk and then there are wet nurses (which I'm not even sure still exist today). That is a very wonderful thing for you to do for your sister =). But, she may feel as though she is incapable of feeding her baby and that is why she is leary about it. Just assure her that being a mom is hard enough, without other responsibilities such as school, work, etc. I know, because I am in school myself AND I work!!! Kudos to you for being a wonderful sister!! =)

Claire - posted on 04/09/2010

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Maybe what you should do is support your sister in helping her to produce her own milk. She seems to be uncomfoartable with the idea and I can sort of understand why, I wouldn't be comforatble with it and it might make her feel like she can't provide for her baby. Your milk will not be suitable for her tiny baby as your baby has different needs :-) I think that is really lovely that you are willing to do this but if your sister isn't 100% comfortable it may be distructive in your relationship it could cause jealously and all manner of other negative feelings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing breastmilk if it is what you both want - good luck and take care :-)

Dora - posted on 04/09/2010

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Believe it or not it is fine to share breast milk. There are actually organizations within the US who try to get breast milk donated to help pre-mature babies. But before you offer your sister's baby any of your milk you really need to get her permission. remeber the baby is her child and not yours. It is up to her to make that decision not you.

[deleted account]

I think it's great that you're offering, and don't think it's weird. In fact, I think it used to be quite common in the old days before formula.

You are sisters, you couldn't be more closely related genetically, so it'd be almost the same as getting breastmilk from her.

Maybe remind her that women often donate or sell breastmilk for other babies to drink. Saying that breastmilk is weird when formula is not, doesn't make sense to me. Formula is made from cows milk, made for a calf. Breastmilk is make for a human baby. If it's available, I know which one I'd rather feed my baby (who is not a calf, lol).

Plus, if she's studying the cost factor would probably be important to her too, formula is expensive and is dead milk in a can, breastmilk is free and is exactly what baby needs including enzymes, vitamins, etc.

You might want to consider going back on your antenatel vitamins (if you are not anymore), that will ensure that it's not too much of a drain on you. Also, fish oil is really important for you, because breastfeeding takes a lot of that from you as well. I wouldn't worry about the nutritional differences between your baby and your niece, your breastmilk will be better than formula no matter what.

Brittany - posted on 04/08/2010

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I dont see a problem with sharing your milk...all of my sisters at one point have fed one of my nephews and they turned out just fine! I think milk is milk, i mean youre giving just as much nutrients as she would. In my opinion I would want my son to have healthy breastmilk than formula any day!!!

Lyla - posted on 04/08/2010

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Fennel, dill , boiled in tea daily helps too
my dr gave me pills to help me produce more milk drinking lots water too helps really lots i drank almost 2 ltrs and found it helped

Karla - posted on 04/08/2010

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I think it would be fine as long as she is ok with it. I shared pumped milk with one of my dear friends because she couldn't pump enough. I also donated to a milk bank. I don't think their age makes much difference because they give donated milk to premies that comes from moms with kids of all ages.

Julienne - posted on 04/07/2010

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What a wonderful idea, however I wouldn't consider doing it if your sister says NO. Thinka about being on the other side - would you want someone doing it to your baby without your consent. Good luck

Ayla - posted on 04/07/2010

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also if she wants to increase milk supply i had fenugreek which really helpd (natural)..Also my mate used blessed thisle which really helped her aswell. good luck

Ayla - posted on 04/07/2010

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It is totally fine, from a bottle, it might be abit weird to actually give her your breast. Hospitals have milk banks, they get mothers to donate their milk for the prem babys whos mother can not breastfeed. Also my partners aunty told me that she use to top him up now and again as his mother could only feed on one boob due to and inverted nipple. ( she gave him boob and all)
She did not think it was weird as it was the best for the baby at the time. It is totally up to you and the babys mother. If you do not feel comfortable then dont, but if you or the mother have no problems with it then go ahead and do it.

Nancylee - posted on 04/07/2010

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what a wonderful gift to give a sister. i think if you were bottle feeding your niece it might make your sister feel better about it. if i were her, especially if i wasn't able to be w/my baby i would want that special connection of breastfeeding to be from me.

Melisa - posted on 04/07/2010

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Hey maybe you would pass on some different immunities! LOL. I would do it for one of my sisters and I would hope they would do it for me! I hope she comes around!

Camille - posted on 04/07/2010

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I think it is ultimately up to your sister but if she came around to it it would be a great idea. Also her not being able to pump very much might not be due to stress or low milk supply. Some mothers just arent able to pump. I nurse my 10 month old daughter and cannot produce a single drop when I try to pump. My mother was also like this and she nursed all 5 of her children.

Tara - posted on 04/07/2010

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I think I would do it. When my preemie was in the hospital, the first few days of me pumping i couldnt get much out either so i signed a consent to have donated breastmilk from colorado sent in for him. I think every baby deserves the best no matter where the milk came from. i was also told that since he was preemie, my milk was "preemie" meaning it was higher in calories just for him. so im not sure the difference in your milk for your 7 month old and giving it to a 5 week old. but there are people who have "wet nurses" (someone else nursing your baby while you get your stuff done) :))

Erin - posted on 04/07/2010

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well my son is Seven months and her daughter is five weeks, would there be a difference in the milk? I hadnt thought of that... I got her some Fenugreek tablets from the health food store and some Mothers Milk tea to help her production... is there anything else to help her milk production?

[deleted account]

I think it's great! It might help her stress levels to know that her marvellous sister (that's you, Erin!) is giving her baby the best!

Sara - posted on 04/06/2010

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it may be weird to her but you know back in the day nannies and such would nurse babies if momma couldn't. :)

Beck - posted on 04/06/2010

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You know if it was from a bottle I wouldn't have a problem with it and would be so happy that my baby was getting more liquid gold from my sister. Your a lovely sister for helping out.

[deleted account]

Hmm. That's a tricky one. If your sister says that it's weird for her then it's weird and there may be no getting around it. How close in age are your babies? I wonder b/c your milk changes as your baby gets bigger, so if they're too far apart in age, then I would worry about the nutritional aspect of it. But in all fareness, you're milk would be much healthier for her than formula. Maybe you could approach your sister with some of the facts about breast vs. formula. Hopefully she already knows this, but it doesn't hurt to point it out again. As far as pumping, it sometimes takes women a while to warm up to the pump. 5 weeks is early- is she in highschool or college? Either way, I'm sure if she went to a guidance counselor, or other trusted authority figure, they could cut her a little slack in her class schedule and help her to find somewhere at school to pump. Also when she's with the baby, she should nurse FREQUENTLY to help maintain her milk supply, and pump as often as she possibly can when she's away from the baby. Good luck!!!

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