Breastfeeding and breast milk are the number one choice for feeding human babies. There is no denying that for all babies, except the rare few with metabolic disorders that cause them to not digest human milk, it is the right way to nourish an infant. For some mothers, either temporarily or long term, additional supplementation is necessary. Approximately 3% of mothers cannot provide enough breast milk for their infants; in these cases donor breast milk is the optimal choice over formula for supplementation.
Breast milk is sometimes referred to as “liquid gold.” While its colour is generally a lovely yellow, its value is what people are referring to. It has the exact nutrition for the human infant to thrive with perfectly balanced proteins, carbohydrates, fats and other nutrients. The components of breast milk are easily digested and have a higher bioavailability over those found in other sources. According to Dr. Sears, formula contains a higher level of iron than breast milk, but only 4% of the iron is absorbed by the infant compared to the 50-75% of iron absorbed from breast milk.
Formula is a factory made processed food product. It is made from cow’s milk, soybeans, corn and chemical vitamins and minerals. The manufacturers are trying to mimic human milk when they make this product, and because it is made in a factory there is always room for human error. There have been many recalls of formula in recent years. Similac was one of these recalls. They had to recall their product because there were bugs and bug parts in the powdered infant formula. Formula should be used as a last resort for feeding the human infant. According to the World Health Organization the first choice for feeding an infant should be milk from the mother’s breast. The second choice is expressed milk from the infant’s mother fed another way. The third choice is breast milk from another mother. And finally the fourth choice is artificial baby milk.
Emma Kwasnica, the founder of Human Milk for Human Babies (HM4HB,) has stated that “Breast milk is not a scarce commodity. It's a free-flowing resource, and we were dumping it down the drain.” She created HM4HB to connect families around the world with excess breast milk to those who had babies in need. Before the creation of formula, if a mother was not able to feed her baby a wet nurse was used. In absolute dire need the milk of another animal was used. HM4HB is the modern day version of wet nursing. Mothers who milk share are well informed. They know the risks and benefits of sharing breast milk. Babies benefit from the donor milk by receiving the best nutrition they can get from the situation that they have.
I have personal experience on both sides of milk sharing. When my son was a few months old I had some excess milk. I shared this milk with a mother of a newborn who has having some minor difficulties getting started. Later on I developed a hormonal imbalance that affected my milk supply. I was only producing about half of what my son needed. Through the help of two other lactating mothers, I was able to successfully breast milk feed my son. We were donated over 1,200 ounces. My son was able to thrive thanks to these women.
Heavenly Father created a woman’s body with breasts so that she could nourish and nurture her babies. He perfectly designed breast milk to nourish the human infant. For the approximately 3% of mothers who cannot feed their babies their own breast milk, this perfectly designed food should be used when at all possible. He designed human milk for human babies, and cow’s milk for calves.