By: Heaven Bassett
You are fierce, adaptable, and productive. You are a woman. Your body is built to create, and to nurture. One of those biological mechanisms built into your structure is breast-feeding. Sure, it might be the most frustrating venture of new motherhood, and not everyone can force those ladies to do their duty, but the brilliance of the body during this time should be celebrated.
Hold on though, because when I say celebrated, I mean for that human you grew inside your miraculous body. I don’t mean for your fellow festival fans. I’m talking to you Burning Man brethren. Wait, don’t start throwing your glow sticks or desert costumes at me yet, I’m not here to say the sharing of breast milk between adults is grotesque. Your culture is yours, and I won’t bash whatever rituals work for you.
What I am letting you know is: breast milk doesn’t hold the same nutritional brilliance for adults as it does for infants. I’m sorry to burst that bubble, but your super-strong adult digestive system will break down those nutrients and leave them obsolete. On that note, here’s a shout out to the new mom pumping to keep those breasts producing, and engorged-pain free. However, handing breast milk out like a sample tray at Costco on Smith’s was, maybe, a bit risky.
Yes, Diseases Can Be Transferred Through Breast Milk!
Let’s talk infectious disease with unmonitored breast milk. HIV may have a small likelihood of transmission, but the risk is still there. Also, what about CMV and HTLV-1? Ladies, if you’ve breastfeed, you most likely know the damage your poor body has suffered. Chapped, sore, and even bleeding nipples are not out of the realm of motherhood. You may know your health history after the many doctor visits needed through pregnancy, but your breast milk partakers do not. That means they are playing with fire (no pun intended Burning Man goers) with that possible open wound and body fluid, and not in the dance-style the festival culture excels.
But We Feed It to Babies…
If you are wondering why we’d risk the baby for that inarguable nutritional value, it’s because the babe has developed resistance through antibodies from the mother’s maternal bacterium. In layman’s terms: the infant has most likely already been exposed by the time the mother has symptoms, and has developed immunities of protection over the time of breastfeeding; though, in some cases, such as the for the infections mentioned above, breastfeeding is stopped. Antibodies are an amazing feat of nature, but they aren’t indestructible. For those of you toying with the idea of a one-nighter with breast milk, a one-time chugging from a stranger does not provide the time needed for that barrier to build.
Yes! Foodborne Illness is a Concern, Too!
Remember “When in Doubt, Throw it Out.” Foodborne illness is still a thing, and breast milk isn’t omitted from Salmonella. If you prefer a doctor washes his/her hands before administering your yearly checkup, you should probably think that way about the sterilization of what you drink. The same rules apply, but it takes a more than a good scrubbing to make sure a liquid is safe to consume. Although, the internet buying of breast milk has become the new health-fad, you can’t be sure what treatments or testing, if any, have been applied to that magical milk.
There’s no doubt to the positive benefits of breast milk for newborns, but those attributes just don’t work that way for adults. Breast milk morphs like a Power Ranger as the baby grows, and that’s awesome; but, your adult digestive system is chewing it up and rendering it useless. Yes, there may be more secrets to unlock from breast milk wonders, but you’ll probably catch something else while you test the theory through online purchases, or friendly-stranger mishaps. Whether the infections came from the donor’s skin, the pump, the storage, or a disease, the risk is not worth adult breast milk consumption. That’s because testing shows there is no nutritional value in breast milk for adults. Sorry guys, your gut tears that breast milk down like a WWE wrestler on Smackdown Sunday.
All-natural does not mean safe. It also doesn’t mean beneficial, nor does it mean nutritional. It means it came from a source of nature. Just because all-natural broccoli is good for you, doesn’t mean breast milk holds the same weight. The best rule to follow is:
Know what you’re putting in your mouth, and your reason for putting it there.