So now Melbourne has a milk bank! The powers-that-be have recognised that there’s nothing better than mother’s milk for premie babies (or for that matter, for babies of any age!). While I’m all for sharing Nature’s bounty and Mums who are in good health and successfully breastfeeding their own offspring will have no issues donating to this important and long-overdue resource, but there are questions I can’t help but ask?
Where is the milk from the mothers of these tiny babies (only those premies under 32 weeks gestation and weighing less than 1500g will qualify for access to stored milk)? After all, the milk from a Mum who has given birth prematurely differs in composition from the breastmilk of a woman who has given birth at term! Surprise, surprise that milk is ideally suited to her premie baby! Why aren’t those women the primary donors of milk for their own babies?
And why oh why do we have to undo any benefits with our obsession with sterility and high tech treatments. “Mothers of babies under the age of six months will be able to donate surplus milk, which will be screened, pasteurised and stored for up to three months before being thawed for its recipients.” Anyone wonder how the human race survived wet-nursing and Mums in extended families offering a breast to somebody else’s Bub? What vitamins, co-factors, enzymes, antibodies and hormones are destroyed in the screening, pasteurizing, freezing and storing processes? It’s exactly the same damage that the dairy industry inflicts on raw milk when they convert it to the poor substitute that masquerades in cardboard cartons under the name of milk.
Next thing we’ll have some mis-guided study telling us that the premies getting human milk from the milk bank do no better than the bottle fed infants.