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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Other People's Breastmilk

I came across this very interesting series entitled "Other People's Breastmilk". It is on a UK channel - Channel 4 and unfortunately, although the entire episode can be viewed online, it doesn't seem to be allowed outside the UK. A synopsis of the series is as follows:

Kate Garraway - herself the mother of a two-year-old daughter - investigates the pros and cons of cross-feeding, breast-milk donation and wet-nursing by meeting some of the growing numbers of women who share each other's milk.

'I'm on a journey to find people who believe milk has to be from the breast,' says Kate, 'people who buy it, sell it, people who give it away and people who even feed each other's babies. To many this might seem weird, but they challenge us that it's actually much weirder to give our babies cows' milk than it is to drink milk from another woman. It's a journey I won't forget in a hurry.'

The people Kate meets include sisters who cross-feed their babies; women who are able to breast-feed even though they have never been pregnant; surrogate mothers who produce two gallons of milk a week for donation; and a cancer sufferer who believes breast milk has cured his condition.

I was really interested to watch about milk sharing since I have shared milk, my niece has received milk and I have a sister-in-law pregnant with triplets who is considering a wet nurse. Channel 4 also links to a "Breastfeeding Help and Information" Page filled with resources, links and organizations in the UK that can help moms successfully breastfeed.
I'm not sure how big Channel 4 is in the UK (their programs do include popular US series such as How I Met Your Mother, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, The Closer, Smallville, etc.) but I am intrigued that they included a program specifically about breastfeeding/breastmilk plus they have a link on their homepage about breastfeeding resources.
Locally, we do have QTV airing breastfeeding commercials (only during August) but apart from being featured in talk shows or the news (if there are newsworthy events), I haven't come across a local channel airing a documentary entirely about breastfeeding. One episode on I-Witness entitled "Kape Para Kay Lean" focused on malnutrition in the children of Pasacao, Camarines Sur where children never taste milk from their mothers but are fed with rice coffee instead. Looking at the local major stations's TV show line-up, I think that a breastfeeding documentary could be a proper topic forThe Correspondents or Dokumentado or I-Witness.


Mari said...


i have allowed my son to nurse off a friend, he was a sick baby, and i needed surgery when he was 6 months old, he needed milk, she had milk. she fed direct. i also fed directly my niece for about 2 months.

and yes it is much weirder and crazier for us to drink from an animal that isnt even from our species. just my opinion.

Martine said...

My husband's cousin recently gave birth to her first son, a premie at 35 weeks, and I was being considered as a donor for breastmilk since the mom's milk wouldn't come in. Thankfully, the milk did come a week later. I think it would have been great if I could have breastfed him though! But I'm glad that the mother was able to lactate.

Ours is a breastfeeding family, ever since! In our family, during the time my mom and aunts were breastfeeding, it wasn't uncommon for us cousins to be fed with our aunts' milk. (My mom had five sisters, and all had babies at the same time.) It was like a little breastfeeding kibbutz, haha.

I have been breastfeeding Vito for 11 months now, and I hope to continue for as long as I can.

I love your blog! Thanks for all the great breastfeeding advice.

Jenny said...

@Mari - that's great that you found a source and also became a source of breastmilk! I know how difficult it is to share milk there in the US with all the regulations on milk banking and milk sharing. But you have such a great resource network - e.g. milkshare to allow moms to get together (milk givers and milk "needers"). we need to set up a similar system locally.

@Martine - thanks for reading and you are pretty lucky to be one of the few moms in our generation to have been breastfed. i wasn't.

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you enjoyed this documentary. I found it fascinating to work on and came away with alot of admiration for the women involved, impressed not least with how focussed they were on putting their babies first in the way that felt right for them.After the filming I was still not sure whether I would feel comfortable allowing another woman to breastfeed my baby directly breast to mouth,( thankfully the need has never been there, but if it was a matter of life or death for my child who knows.) But it did however, make me question, the squeamishness we have in the West for the very idea of sharing milk woman to woman, when if you think about it, formula is derived from cow's milk, which is after all milk from the breast of a cow. Funny how we are more revolted by another woman than a bovine! Maybe your readers have had similar thoughts of how far we have come from what in days gone by was very common and accepted. Anyway its good that sites like yours engage in such debates I think. If anyone wants to see more photos related to the programme visit you can also let me know your views direct on twitter @kategarraway

~Katey~ said...

I would willing let a child who wasn't mine breastfeed from me. I would also willing let my child breastfeed from another mother. I feel that if the mother is breastfeeding she knows what she has to do to keep her milk good. What mother in their right mind would "poison" their milk for their own child?

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