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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breastmilk: It does a body good. Any body!

This week a blog, called "Don't have a cow, man." took the "lactivist" world by storm when a family announced that the husband was drinking his wifes breastmilk....ONLY breastmilk, no solid food, no other drinks.

Katie, who is a doula, childbirth educator, and lactation educator is one of those amazing women with the ability to pump large quantities of breastmilk.  Because of pumping for her preterm baby, born 9 months ago, she has amassed thousands of ounces of liquid gold in her freezer. When commentors asked why she had kept the milk and hadn't donated it Katie replied:

"About milk banks, they do not want the milk because it is too old, I took Motrin after giving birth, I took Tylenol a few times for headaches, and because I took nutritional supplements. Sick babies on other medications use the donor milk and they are concerned about drug interactions or side effects.
Why don't we pay to ship the milk to another mom? We can not afford to spend the hundreds of dollars that it would cost to ship just a portion of the breast milk. Shipping will be very expensive because it needs to be kept frozen. We are like many other families and are just trying to get by."

So when the family planned a long move and realized the magnitude of trying to move all this milk to another State, her husband Curtis decided to drink the milk himself.

"My wife has hundreds of bottles of frozen breast milk in the freezer that our baby will never have a chance to drink before they get too old. Since breast milk is healthy and we have plenty of it, why not just drink it all myself? In fact, why not drink only breast milk and see how long I can happily make it with no other food?
And yes, I know how weird this may sound, it is kind of weird to me as well but why not? I mean cow milk was made for baby cows, why not drink human breast milk that was made for baby humans?  
The rules:Nothing to eat or drink except breast milk.Blog daily about how I am feeling and how it is going.See how many days I can make it without other food."

I have read their blog, and several other blogs that have commented on it this week, and of course the commentary moves from  "yuck dude!" to  "that milk should be going to babies in need" , but in my mind few have really talked about the issue that stood out for me: The obvious health benefits that Curtis has gained from this "experiment".  Curtis has a history of stomach and digestive problems- from reflux, to vomiting and problems with bowel movements (due to hernia surgery scaring)

Here's the thing:  While Health Canada and all the pediatric societies chant the same Om of "Breast is best", we are still a culture that sees formula feeding as normal.  We hear about the health benefits of breastmilk, yet rarely does the media really report on the reality of the risks of formula. We know that breastmilk is better for babies tummies, yet hospitals, doctors, nurses, and other health care providers still turn to formula as the answer to most breastfeeding problems, without really giving a serious thought to the effects of formula on immature stomachs.

Now suddenly, we have a grown man, with a history of all sorts of stomach ailments, drinking human breastmilk- ONLY human breastmilk.  Three days in and his belly problems are gone. No more reflux, no more vomiting, no more bowel movement problems- not even diarrhea that several people said he'd have.  Here's a grown human, with the ability to speak and reason, telling us how much better his digestive system is feeling.....

....Imagine the difference on a small infant? Incapable of speaking and explaining how their tummy hurts.

I, like many others have said, would love to see this breastmilk going to a baby in need.  I've even messaged Curtis and his wife to ask where they are located to see if I can't guide them find a recipient through Human Milk 4 Human Babies in their area. But even if a family in need isn't found that can afford the shipping and packaging of the milk, I still think that this experiment that they have done has opened doors to other people- to seriously think about the validity of the tremendous health benefits of species specific breastmilk in the area of healing.  Not just in the case of cancer, like the amazing story of Howard Cohen , who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1999 and has used only breastmilk as his cancer treatment and kept his cancer in remission for 10 years!! , but the healing it can do to the digestive system- especially the digestive systems of fragile infants.  More so, it might make more people aware of the importance that human breastmilk plays on the health of humans of all ages, and give further insight into the dangers of commercial infant formulas.  Parents are constantly inundated with formula ads that grandly announce "Closest formula to breastmilk!".... but when it comes to the health of our babies, is "closest" really good enough?