The most optimal nutrition for infants is their own mother’s fresh milk. This is the most natural and optimal option from a metabolic, immunologic, neurodevelopmental, relational, and psychological standpoint. It is God’s design for nutrition of a human infant, and despite man trying to recreate it, it stands far above anything else. Breast milk contains nucleotides, lactalbumin, oligosaccharides, prebiotics & probiotics, essential enzymes, vitamins and minerals in their most bio-available form, anti-inflammatory and immune factors, white blood cells, stem cells, several hundred different types of bacteria, and many things that have not yet been studied. All of these have been correlated with positive health and development of the baby and most are not found in formula.
Everything listed above
Can be difficult to establish latch and can be tiring for mother in first weeks; some babies have sensitivities to something mom is eating and there can be a trial-and-error phase of figuring that out.
Breastmilk Ratios are approximately 1:4:7 as Protein: Fat: Carbs
For many reasons, not all women are able to breastfeed, or aren’t able to produce enough and need supplementation. The second-best route would be finding a milk donor. This can be achieved a few different ways.
Milk banks are medically supervised organizations. These organizations primarily supply milk to NICU babies, but will also serve outpatient if supply is available. Potential donors for milk banks are screened with bloodwork and health verification by their medical providers. Donated milk through these organizations is pasteurized and screened for bacteria (not ideal in my opinion as much of the “bacteria” found in breast milk is beneficial).
Common pasteurization method and how it affects nutrients:
Macronutrients - No effect
Bile salt stimulating lipase - Complete loss
Immunoglobulin A – up to 50% loss
Lactoferrin - 60 to 80% loss
Lysozyme - up to 60% loss
Oligosaccharides - No effect
supplies breast milk to infants in hospitals who wouldn’t otherwise receive it
can be difficult to obtain for outpatient use, milk is pasteurized.
Milk Sharing Networks
The other option is an informal Milk Sharing Network. The most well known are Eats On Feets or Human Milk 4 Human Babies. There are questions you can ask a potential donor to see if they will be a good fit for your baby. Donor moms are absolutely incredible and most do not mind answering personal questions, as they understand the desire for you to protect your baby. Some questions we asked our donor included:
Do you smoke, drink, or engage in any drug use?
Do you have any health issues?
Are you on any prescription or over-the-counter medications?
Have you received any vaccinations recently?
What type of diet are you on?
What process do you take to collect and store your milk?
How much milk are you able to donate/will this be an ongoing relationship?
How can we reimburse you for your time and material?
(You should not pay for donor milk – most times the receiving family will
reimburse the mom with supplies like storage bags)
baby still receives most of the benefits of human milk, the relationship between a donor mom and recipient mom is special
can take awhile to find a good donor match, usually there is some traveling involved to pick up milk, freezing & re-heating the milk can lessen some of the nutrient-density, the diet/lifestyle of your donor is for the most part out of your control