39-year-old Singaporean business owner Fiona Grier thought that she would be able to breastfeed her fourth child, Ciara normally, just like how she was able to for her first three kids.
However, due to post-childbirth complications, Fiona wasn’t producing any milk after a week. There were retained placenta tissue which caused the hormones that were responsible for breastmilk production not kicking in. This happens when any part of the placenta is blocked in the body.
Instead of following the norm and turning to formula, Fiona decided to look for donated milk online, through an online milk-sharing platform known as Human Milk 4 Human Babies (HM4HB) Singapore.
To Fiona’s relief, two mothers replied to her request and Ciara was fed with their breastmilk for four to five days.
“Even with medications to boost my milk supply, I only produced 1 to 2ml of milk. It was demoralising. Human breast milk is my first choice of food for my baby because I wanted to keep her gut flora as ‘virgin’ as possible to prevent risk of allergies later in life,” Fiona said.
However, according to healthcare professionals in Singapore, milk-sharing is not recommended.
Ms Wong Lai Ying, a lactation consultant at NUH Women’s Centre said: “Donor milk from formal sources is the best option as proper screening is a requirement, and it is pasteurised. However, this option is not available in Singapore.”
Knowing that your donor leads a healthy lifestyle does not ensure that the milk will be safe,” she added.
Diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis B can be transmitted through breastmilk as it is a bodily fluid. Contamination may also occur during collection, storage and transportation of breast milk.
Fiona thinks that milk-sharing is a natural alternative as she had also donated her excess breast milk to other mothers in need while breastfeeding her third child.
She had also asked the donors detailed questions relation to health and vaccinations so as to reduce any potential health risks.
Recently, she removed her remaining placenta tissue and is currently feeding Ciara exclusively.
We all know that breastfeeding is best but struggling mothers need to remember that breastfeeding is not a one-man show; ultimately, it is a relationship between the mother and child,” she said.
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