BF and Fostering? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 10-24-2013, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know a whole lot about fostering (I do in our area) but is it possible or allowable to nurse a new born that is place in your care? I know a friend fostered and got local moms to donate human milk for their foster daughter, but I didn't know if they allow you to actually BF?

 

Anyone done that? Sort of just curious.


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#2 of 15 Old 10-25-2013, 07:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Marcimama View Post
 

I don't know a whole lot about fostering (I do in our area) but is it possible or allowable to nurse a new born that is place in your care? I know a friend fostered and got local moms to donate human milk for their foster daughter, but I didn't know if they allow you to actually BF?

 

Anyone done that? Sort of just curious.

 

I imagine it depends on your area but where i live i think even ASKING if you can breastfeed a foster child would send up a red flag and get you labelled as a freak. IF the bmom requested you do it perhaps they would be ok with it, i dont know. I do know that there isnt a whole lot of oversight where i live meaning they wouldnt really KNOW if you were breastfeeding but its certainly a risk and could possibly result in the removal of the child. Also, here infants generally are getting 2-3 visits each week and the (bio)mom would likely be giving a bottle in that time so you'd be giving formula bottes anyway. If it was a situation where an infant was in a pre-adopt placement, no visits, etc it might go differently but its so situation-specific. If you could get a doctor to sign off that might help your case. 

 

If a potential fp was interested in their state's policy it might be something to bring up during training in a very general sense "i've heard of some foster parent's breastfeeding is that allowed? is there a policy on that? what if the birthparent agrees?" You could even lump that question in with one about what if the *birthmom* is breastfeeding, how do they try to maintain the breastmilk supply while her child is in care, etc. 

 

I hope others have had positive experiences with this though! i would think at a minimum an agency would want the one giving her milk to be tested etc. 

 

I do think bottlenursing (with formula) is awesome and should be encouraged. 


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#3 of 15 Old 10-25-2013, 09:10 AM
 
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Everything I've heard- it's a long process that requires the bio-family to agree to it. If you're caught doing it without permission, the children will likely be taken away.

 

If you're just fostering temporarily- really think about what's best for the baby. Unless you know for a fact that the biomom is pumping and maintaining supply, the baby will likely be put on formula after no longer in your care. Exclusively breastfed babies don't always transition well to formula or even bottles- making the transition back to the biofamily even harder for the baby. I also don't know what would happen if they get the baby back and report that the baby refuses to take bottles or formula. They might take it as transition difficulties, it may raise a red-flag that you were secretly breastfeeding and cause problems for you.

 

If you're fostering to adopt, I'd see fewer problems with it, but it also strikes me as more hurtful to have a baby that you're planning to adopt and have as your child permanently get taken away.

 

 

That said- as the PP pointed out, you can likely get away with it. I've seen foster parents who did.

 

I've seen suggestions of making half of the baby's feed formula so that way the baby will take formula and the bottle and hopefully the transition to all formula won't be so bad (although, for my baby, at half of each, he didn't have tummy troubles, but all formula was awful for him until we found the right formula). I'd definitely make sure that the baby is used to taking a bottle even if it's of expressed breast milk.

 

If you're doing visits with b-mom, you can bring bottles of expressed breastmilk (don't tell them that's in it, obviously) or, if you're doing half and half- make those the formula bottles for the day. Keep formula and bottles around the house so that if someone visits it looks like you're using formula.

 

Also- if you have bio kids you breastfed, be careful who you tell that you breastfed your kids. For my mom, the fact she breastfed me was taken as a red flag that she was secretly BFing the foster baby (she wasn't) and so he was taken away.

 

(Note: if you get permission to BF a foster baby, don't BF in front of the bio-family/bio-mom unless explicitly asked to by them. I know someone who got permission, then BF'd in front of hte bio mom and got the baby taken away. Being okay with the idea of someone else BFing your baby and actually being okay with seeing it are two different things)

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#4 of 15 Old 10-25-2013, 08:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, so interesting that it would be a "red flag".... but that is good insight and a lot to think about! Thanks!


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#5 of 15 Old 10-26-2013, 10:37 AM
 
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Wow, so interesting that it would be a "red flag".... but that is good insight and a lot to think about! Thanks!


I think it's complete BS, personally.

 

I can understand clamping down on whether or not foster parents are allowed to breastfeed, though- they have to be screened for disease, the system has to make sure they know what medication they can't take and that they're eating healthy and find out what they plan to do if the baby isn't thriving on breast milk, etc. Formula may not be ideal- but it is at least uniform. You may know that you'll do right by the baby, but not everyone has the information or resources to successfully breastfeed a foster child and it seems like it takes a lot more time/energy/money to approve someone to breastfeed than to say "Just use formula".


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#6 of 15 Old 11-22-2013, 04:54 PM
 
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I think I recall California being pretty lax on this point.  I'm a staunch bfer but I have to agree with the pp that noted how traumatic it can be for the baby to suddenly be moved and deal not just with new smells/surroundings/sounds and styles of parenting, but then their FOOD.

 

And often, they don't have an HIV test back and if I'm recalling correctly--that can be passed from nursling to nurser.

 

Broke my heart not to nurse my ad.  She was placed with me with a primary case goal of adoption (she was given up/SafeHaven) and I still had milk.  But yeah--you seriously never know what will happen with the state.  I loved her too much to roll the dice on losing her or having her moved and letting her suffer the trauma.


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#7 of 15 Old 11-22-2013, 05:48 PM
 
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I think I recall California being pretty lax on this point.  I'm a staunch bfer but I have to agree with the pp that noted how traumatic it can be for the baby to suddenly be moved and deal not just with new smells/surroundings/sounds and styles of parenting, but then their FOOD.

 

And often, they don't have an HIV test back and if I'm recalling correctly--that can be passed from nursling to nurser.

 

Broke my heart not to nurse my ad.  She was placed with me with a primary case goal of adoption (she was given up/SafeHaven) and I still had milk.  But yeah--you seriously never know what will happen with the state.  I loved her too much to roll the dice on losing her or having her moved and letting her suffer the trauma.


HIV, hepatitis, and a few other diseases can be transmitted through breastmilk that hasn't been pasteurized. It's part of why milk-sharing is frowned on outside of milk banks. If someone wanted to BF a foster baby, I really hope that they'd test for more than just HIV because of that.


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#8 of 15 Old 11-22-2013, 06:21 PM
 
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I'm glad you asked this, I was wondering this myself. If you were breastfeeding a foster baby (even part time) without telling anyone, and the baby pooped at a visitation, you'd know they were breastfed.


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#9 of 15 Old 11-22-2013, 07:37 PM
 
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I'm glad you asked this, I was wondering this myself. If you were breastfeeding a foster baby (even part time) without telling anyone, and the baby pooped at a visitation, you'd know they were breastfed.

 

I can't really see the workers or most birthparents at my agency instantly recognizing a "breastfed poop" from a formula fed one. 

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#10 of 15 Old 11-22-2013, 08:17 PM
 
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I can't really see the workers or most birthparents at my agency instantly recognizing a "breastfed poop" from a formula fed one. 


My baby got exclusively breast milk for the first month of life, a mix for the second and third month, and has been exclusively formula fed- and [i]I[/i] wouldn't be able to recognize a "breastfed poop" from a formula fed one in [i]him[/i] much less any other baby!


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#11 of 15 Old 01-08-2014, 10:08 AM
 
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I have a relative placement and asked if I could pump for her. Even with birth moms permission dcs said no.
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#12 of 15 Old 01-08-2014, 10:14 AM
 
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I wouldn't advise breastfeeding a foster baby unless you know you will be adopting. Pumping Is another story, but Imagine how traumatic it would be to bond so strongly with you, and then be removed from your care.
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#13 of 15 Old 01-21-2014, 05:13 AM
 
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HIV, hepatitis, and a few other diseases can be transmitted through breastmilk that hasn't been pasteurized. It's part of why milk-sharing is frowned on outside of milk banks. If someone wanted to BF a foster baby, I really hope that they'd test for more than just HIV because of that.

This. This. And this!
A foster mom that was going to be fostering one of the patients where I work had been providing untested milk she received from strangers online to previous foster kids and had plans to do it with that child as well. As the nurse for the patient that was going to be home with her, I sussed out more information and what she was doing was highly risky, particularly for an infant with feeding issues. I had to advocate for that child, and the unit social worker got involved, child services got involved, etc. I don't think that her license was revoked but I'm sure she had a stern lecture as to why feeding untested breastmilk to someone who is legally not your child is risky for her foster child and for her (imagine the legal risks!).
If I was the parent of those kids I would be very upset and would definitely ask for the kids to be removed. And what if my kid contracted a disease? You can bet I'd take her to court.
I don't have a problem with providing kids tested breastmilk, thats not the issue. We do it all the time where I work with parental consent and I think breastmilk is very beneficial, either from the bio parent (there are exceptions) or from a medical milk bank. I do have a problem with putting kids at risk by using untested breastmilk. You never know who is providing the milk, and even if you do know the person...even they can't know up to the minute if they have a contractable disease unless they are constantly being tested, and somehow I highly doubt thats the case with any milksharing program.
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#14 of 15 Old 01-21-2014, 11:48 PM
 
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I wouldn't advise breastfeeding a foster baby unless you know you will be adopting. Pumping Is another story, but Imagine how traumatic it would be to bond so strongly with you, and then be removed from your care.

 

Maybe a little off topic but the bond that my foster baby who was bottlenursed had with me was no different than my solely breastfed bio child. Had he been removed from my care it would have been traumatic despite not being breastfed. The key i would think to someone thinking of nursing a foster baby would be to make sure that child knew how to take a bottle and could tolerate formula, just in case. Not that i recommend doing it, but the trauma you write about seems like it would be from losing the only source of eating the baby recognizes....my oldest had never had a bottle ever so had he lost me that WOULD have been extra traumatic only because he would have had to figure out a bottle in addition to the loss. But otherwise, i personally dont feel the bond is any different. I absolutely thought formula fed/bottle fed babies DID have a different bond, when i only had a breastfed baby but once i actually had a bottlenursed infant i realized it wasnt true. In my experience at least. 


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#15 of 15 Old 01-30-2014, 07:46 AM
 
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In my area breastfeeding a foster baby or feeding donated/bought breastmilk would not be allowed.

However, there's no one checking to see what you feed the child and so if the baby is growing well and is healthy it probably wouldn't be a problem.

I wouldn't and did not do it, but I personally think it is a gray area ethically and I think it should be legal.

 

I don't think the issues about bonding are all that relevant. I did not breastfeed my foster babies but I strongly bonded nonetheless. Besides, a strong bond is good for the baby, and ultimately for you, even if it comes with loss. As they say, it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. It's 100% true.

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