Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"You are such a hypocrite!" or, "Why I chose formula over someone else's mama milk."

It's no secret that I accepted blood transfusions from stock blood after both of my births.  I'm okay with that.  I know what the numbers are on the risk of transmitted bloodbourne pathogens slipping by undetected, and it's a risk I'm willing to take.

When certain persons with their noses so high they can't see their toes hear that, though, the terms "hypocrite" and "lazy" and "negligent" are slung around as carelessly as "please" and "thank you."

Why is this, you ask?  Well, because when I was unable** to breastfeed, I chose formula over donated mama milk.

No one close to me was nursing a child or would even have been able to re-lactate to help me, and I was unwilling, plain and simple, to accept and/or pay for a stranger's mama milk.

Off the bat, I do look like a hypocrite.  I accepted a random person's blood, but I'm not accepting a random person's milk for my child.  Yep.  Sounds hypocritical.  With one teeensy smidgen of a difference - the random person whose blood I accepted had been screened rigorously for pathogens and pharmaceuticals, and that blood was deemed clear and safe for use in any patient, no matter the medications they were taking or the allergies they had.

I cannot get that assurance with donated mama's milk.  I will freely admit - I don't trust strangers.  Not even a little bit.  While I'd like to think that there wouldn't be anything done out of malice, I cannot be so naive as to think there wouldn't be anything done out of stupidity.  Someone thinking that what they're putting into their body is insignificant, or someone thinking an infection they had was harmless.  Ignorance, plain and simple.

Medications, herbal supplements, infections... these are all things that could be tagging along in that seemingly innocuous little bottle of breastmilk.

I will not offer my child anything that I would not put in my own body, and I would not drink a random woman's breast milk without tangible proof that she had been exhaustively tested for any and all possible issues.

I choose formula over donated mama's milk because if nothing else, there is at least an FDA regulated quality control on the ingredients that go into that can of powder.  And yes, I realize that there's a LOT of things in that can.  It's a trade-off I'm willing to make, though. 

It's smelly, and doesn't taste very good (I said I wouldn't give my children something I wouldn't put in my own body, and I meant it.  I've had formula - and not just dipping my finger in it to taste it.  I made up a few ounces and drank them myself,) and it makes my kids smelly, but it doesn't run the risk of infecting my child with HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis or HPV, not to mention other more obscure pathogens, and potential pharmaceuticals.

I commend other women who are more trusting than I am and are willing to accept a stranger's milk.  I often wish I could turn off the nagging "what if?" voice whenever I think about the subject.  The simple fact is that I can't.  I can't entertain putting my child in that position any more than I would be able to entertain trusting the care of my child to someone who may or may not have a history of pedophilia.  In my mind, the risks are equal.

That said, just because I feel that way doesn't mean I'm going to judge another mother harshly, so why should I be so judged?  Food (pun intended,) for thought.

**I could not breastfeed Kinder Major because the medications I was on at the time of her birth and forward strictly prohibited it.  I have discontinued breastfeeding Bug because of a medication issue as well, albeit a different one.  I nursed him happily until just recently, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't mourn the loss of that facet of our mother/child relationship.

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