The rhetoric about formula feeding - Page 5 - Mothering Forums
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Lactivism > The rhetoric about formula feeding
YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 10:46 PM 03-30-2008
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YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 10:59 PM 03-30-2008
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YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 10:59 PM 03-30-2008
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Ziggysmama's Avatar Ziggysmama 11:04 PM 03-30-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
Sorry, I'm a bit of an Anthropology geek and since I have friends from all over the world and tend to get a global perspective on these types of things, I read academic tomes alongside "mainstream" parenting books.

There are some huge obstacles to be overcome in breastfeeding that go far beyond the human milk vs. formula "discussion" and right to the heart of the function and purpose of breasts and who "owns" them. The sexualization of breasts is ... what it is. I know a mom who fought with her dh all throughout her pregnancy to be allowed to breastfeed her second child (he insisted she formula feed her first) and she jubilantly announced that she "won" which means that he allowed her to pump and feed the baby EBM in a bottle for six months and that is because their pastor intervened. The idea of donor milk and wet nurses are so BEYOND where most people are it, it's like climbing Mt. Everest.
Thanks for the titles of those books though. I will definatly be looking into them.
That really sad your friend had to battle her dh like that.
I agree, when you look at things from a prespective like that. We as lactivists have a HUGE mountain to climb just to get started ....
siobhang's Avatar siobhang 02:33 AM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
We need to address concerns in a scientific manner. Formula is preferred over milk and syrup because it contains the micronutrients that babies need for optimal health. You won't find studies looking at this anymore because it wouldn't be ethical to give a baby something that is known to be lacking in nutrients, but there are case reports of babies with health problems from their diets.
The death rates of babies fed karo and evaporated milk are historically astonishingly high. back in the day (1700-1900s), babies not breastfed died at rates of 80% and higher.

Sure, some survived. But the problem with the "I was XXX and I am fine" argument is that the babies who died from XXX are not here to give their side of the story.

We forget, in our world of good sanitation, good nutrition, pasturization of milk, and vaccinations, that the death rate for babies fed ANYTHING other than breastmilk is incredibly high. WHO doesn't need to do a study on it - they just look at death rates in under 1 year olds and compare exclusive vs non-exclusive.


Quote:
Here is the 2nd part of the WHO Infant Feeding Guidelines. They do address homemade formula, but state that it should have "micronutrient supplements" - something that would be lacking in the milk and syrup mix.
micronutrients are very often lacking in developing countries, especially vitamin A. I used to work in nutrition based child survival programs in Africa, and our key strategies were:

* exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, supplemented with food for 2 years, minimum
* better baseline nutrition by increased access to foods rich in iron, protein, and vitamin A.
* supplementation of highly vulnerable groups (pregnant women and kids age 2-5) through iron tablets and vitamin A drops.

These strategies saved lives in the highly vulnerable under 5 population. We proved it year after year.
siobhang's Avatar siobhang 02:43 AM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
If you look at it from a historical perspective, you'll see that alternatives to human milk became a necessity when slaves were forced to become wet nurses and not allowed to breastfeed their own babies. This turned them off from breastfeeding as it became viewed as oppressive.
I agree - however the first slaves were waaaaaay earlier than in colonial america.

There is some evidence of enslaved wet nurses in ancient egypt, babylon and other BC empires.

The death rates for the babies of wet nurses has always been unacceptably high, especially when the employer refused to let the wet nurse care for her own baby at the same time (the concern that her baby would "take all the milk").

I really hate to see wet nursing bandied about as some sort of silver bullet - it was a practice rife with abuse and exploitation.
SwanMom's Avatar SwanMom 03:41 AM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post

I really hate to see wet nursing bandied about as some sort of silver bullet - it was a practice rife with abuse and exploitation.
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songbh's Avatar songbh 11:02 AM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
The death rates for the babies of wet nurses has always been unacceptably high, especially when the employer refused to let the wet nurse care for her own baby at the same time (the concern that her baby would "take all the milk").

I really hate to see wet nursing bandied about as some sort of silver bullet - it was a practice rife with abuse and exploitation.
Or in early modern Europe, when the babies of the well-to-do would be shipped out to the countryside to be wet-nursed for the first year or so. More nurslings meant more money for the wet nurse, and so sometimes women were nursing half a dozen or more at a time, and not always successfully given the death rates of that population of babies as well.

Can you imagine what today's globalized neoliberal economic ideals of efficiency would do to the practice of wet nursing? (Oh wait, we've already got one example -- it's called Prolacta... lotsa people making tonsa money exploiting good-hearted milk-donors and desperate parents.)

I think this discussion about the social history of wet nursing is a great example of what I mean when I say that breastfeeding is not one thing with one universal meaning for all of humanity.

Of course there are other ways to solve the problem of making human milk available to babies who can't be breastfed by their mothers. But you have to take the surrounding sociocultural and economic factors into consideration, and that is where things start to get much more complicated than the status quo.
YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 11:14 AM 03-31-2008
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YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 11:24 AM 03-31-2008
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songbh's Avatar songbh 11:37 AM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
If they were talking to a bunch of white folks, you bet your sweet bippie, they'd have the pie charts and calculators out and be spewing for REAL data, but for us, they come up with all sorts of excuses and want us to just believe them. Ain't gonna fly. Nope.
Hmm. Hang on now, you're not suggesting that only African-Americans have ever fed their babies evaporated milk and corn syrup? Plenty of white people raised their babies that way too before commercial formulas were widely available -- and plenty did so after formula became available if they were poor, pre-WIC.

Isn't is possible that the reason you don't see the World Health Organization "spewing for REAL data" about the health outcomes for babies fed carnation/karo is that there is no ethical way to DO that study since, like, several decades before the WHO existed?

I also note that siobhang did not claim an 80% mortality rate for babies fed carnation/karo in the 1960s. That statistic is for babies not breastfed in early modern times, 1700-1900 -- before the technology for canning pasteurized cow's milk existed.

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I come from a LOOOOOONNNNNG line of folks who were given carnation and karo and you'd think numbers like this, we'd have some infant mortality in the mix, but there's none save for a 1st cousin of mine who died of meningitis back in the 60s (before I was born). In my family alone, HUNDREDS of us survived, there is no "80% mortality rate."
Again, I'm going to stick with my earlier post on this idea: the plural of anecdotes is not data. Maybe your family has good genes. Maybe the health risks of a carnation/karo diet in infancy extend beyond infancy. There is no disputing that the African-American community as a whole has shorter life spans, higher incidences of all sorts of chronic and acute diseases, and yes, significantly higher infant mortality rates than the average. Lack of breastfeeding most certainly does not explain all of that -- these are diseases of oppression and are multifactorial in origin. But it has got to be one factor, based on the solid population-based breastfeeding studies that we have from elsewhere.
songbh's Avatar songbh 11:56 AM 03-31-2008
YummyYarnAddict, before the previous pages of posts get buried under wet-nursing and WHO-stats debates, I am really hoping to hear your thoughts on what I posted here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by songbh View Post
However, I am also a white woman and often blinded by white privilege, including in my breastfeeding advocacy and support work. Where the rubber meets the road, I often have a hard time understanding, for example, how to acknowledge issues like the legacy of slavery or cultural norms like evaporated milk and karo syrup when I speak with women of color in breastfeeding-related settings. I don't want to come across like an "I feel your pain" latte-liberal know-it-all. I want to help them feel welcome and comfortable, and I want to help them breastfeed. How do I do this?

I also would like to hear more from you about "YOUR agenda" (as you wrote above: "If I want to sing alongside, everyone's fine and dandy, but if I want MY agenda included, then folks have "issues" all of a sudden.") This probably sounds like a completely ignorant blinded-by-white-privilege question, but if my goal is to help women who want to breastfeed do so successfully and to remove societal and cultural obstacles that lower breastfeeding rates ... how is that different from what you see as your agenda? Are you talking about having different priorities in lactivist tactics and targets -- fewer nurse-ins and more money for peer counseling programs? Less emphasis on nursing in public and more emphasis on paid maternity leave? Or are you talking about other concerns?

YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 12:19 PM 03-31-2008
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annettemarie's Avatar annettemarie 12:26 PM 03-31-2008
Wait a minute-- are you saying canned pasteurized carnation milk isn't the same as evaporated milk?
FREEmom1120's Avatar FREEmom1120 12:36 PM 03-31-2008
I think YummyYarnAddict's example of her family speaks truth to what most people do. They believe what they see with their own eyes rather than statistics given by health organizations. I think it's why more people don't initiate or keep breastfeeding when faced with challenges. They see plenty of babies (maybe even themselves) who are healthy who aren't or weren't bf. A lot of people have learned not to trust statistics anyway because of how they can be skewed.
acannon's Avatar acannon 12:36 PM 03-31-2008
People are telling you evaporated milk because that's what it is. I just looked it up, unless there's a different kind that's not evaporated. Every can of Carnation milk I've seen was evaporated milk. Also, karo syrup is corn syrup. This is from Wikipedia about karo syrup: "Honey, corn syrup, and other sweeteners are potentially dangerous for infants. This is partly because the digestive juices of an infant are less acidic than older children and adults, and may be less likely to destroy ingested spores. In addition, young infants do not yet have sufficient numbers of resident microbiota in their intestines to competitively exclude C. botulinum. Unopposed in the small intestine, the warm body temperature combined with an anaerobic environment creates a medium for botulinum spores to germinate, divide and produce toxin. Thus, C. botulinum is able to colonize the gut of an infant with relative ease, whereas older children and adults are not typically susceptible to ingested spores. C. botulinum spores are widely present in the environment, including honey. For this reason, it is advised that neither honey, nor any other sweetener, be given to children until after 12 months. Nevertheless, the majority of infants with botulism have no history of ingestion of honey, and the exact source of the offending spores is unclear about 85% of the time. Spores present in the soil are a leading candidate for most cases, and often a history of construction near the home of an affected infant may be obtained." I did read, though, that Karo changed the way they make the syrup because of concerns of botulism, but it's still not a good idea to feed corn syrup to a baby. That stuff isn't even good for adults. Too much of it has been known to cause diabetes.
YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 12:40 PM 03-31-2008
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songbh's Avatar songbh 12:44 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by YummyYarnAddict View Post
I think I'm picking up what you're putting down. What I asked to be addressed is canned pasteurized carnation milk and karo syrup and the response siobhang gave was about evaporated milk and karo syrup. So we really aren't talking about the same thing.
OK, I'm hearing you. I think there is some confusion about terms here. "Carnation" is a brand name of evaporated milk. Evaporated milk is by definition pasteurized and canned. It's like saying "kleenex" instead of the generic term "tissue." We're not talking about different things, just some using a brand name and some using the generic name for the same thing.

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I'm asking specifically about carnation and karo for a reason because it's what WE want and need to have addressed and what we're told isn't good enough for our babies. So I'm still left with the question of, why isn't it good enough? Why is it nutritonally inadequate? The question is still unaswered, unacknowledged, and unaddressed, even when I ask it directly.
Actually, several posters in this thread have tried to answer your question, and it certainly hasn't gone "unacknowledged and unaddressed" even if we can't dig up the specific data you would like to see. Examples:

Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
I don't think you'll ever see study where half the babies are given breastmilk or formula and half are given karo syrup and evaporated milk (which is preserved milk that has 60% of the water removed from it and may or may not have other sweeteners and additives, depending on where you are.) It would be completely unethical. The whole reason formula as we know if came about was because evaporated milk and karo syrup were inadequate. It had too many of the wrong kind of hard-to-digest proteins, it didn't have enough vitamins or minerals or healthy fats, and it had the wrong kind of sugar. The salt content and the proteins put a strain on the baby's kidneys. There may not be a comprehensive complete study, but enough is known about the individual ingredients that it seems like common sense to me. If you would look at a list of the ingredients in breastmilk next to a list of the ingredients in commercial formula next to the ingredients in evaporated milk and corn syrup, it's pretty obvious that evaporated milk and corn syrup fall short. Even the homemade formula recipes you see floating around the web have added vitamins, water, and other ingredients.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
Formula is preferred over milk and syrup because it contains the micronutrients that babies need for optimal health. You won't find studies looking at this anymore because it wouldn't be ethical to give a baby something that is known to be lacking in nutrients, but there are case reports of babies with health problems from their diets.

Here is the 2nd part of the WHO Infant Feeding Guidelines. They do address homemade formula, but state that it should have "micronutrient supplements" - something that would be lacking in the milk and syrup mix.
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
Thanks so much for your post, YummyYarnAddict. Thanks for taking the time to spell it out. Your post was helpful - and I have a feeling that I will be thinking about what you have said for some time yet!

What do you think would help? Would a comparison of the nutrients/ingredients of breastmilk vs carnation and karo be useful? What about encouragement to breastfeed from health care providers? Community leaders? Celebrities?

What are your ideas? How can we include everyone? How do we work for change together?
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
We forget, in our world of good sanitation, good nutrition, pasturization of milk, and vaccinations, that the death rate for babies fed ANYTHING other than breastmilk is incredibly high. WHO doesn't need to do a study on it - they just look at death rates in under 1 year olds and compare exclusive vs non-exclusive.

micronutrients are very often lacking in developing countries, especially vitamin A. I used to work in nutrition based child survival programs in Africa, and our key strategies were:

* exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, supplemented with food for 2 years, minimum
* better baseline nutrition by increased access to foods rich in iron, protein, and vitamin A.
* supplementation of highly vulnerable groups (pregnant women and kids age 2-5) through iron tablets and vitamin A drops.

These strategies saved lives in the highly vulnerable under 5 population. We proved it year after year.
What in the above discussion leaves you feeling unheard or dismissed? We're trying here -- if we're not making you feel heard, please help us see how.
YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 01:04 PM 03-31-2008
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Mama Poot's Avatar Mama Poot 05:13 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
we often choose our words for maximum impact. When mothers on either side throw around words like "selfish" or "poison" or "disgusting" they're certainly trying to get some sort of reaction out of their audience. When the other mother then rises to the bait, we throw up our hands and say "Hey, I can't MAKE you feel guilty." That has always seemed extremely disingenuous to me.
Yes and that reaction can be a powerful catalyst for CHANGE. If we feel passionately about something, we are going to use passionate language and I see nothing wrong with that. Someone mentioned in an earlier post that guilt tactics have been extremely effective in ending smoking in most public areas. This is a GOOD thing, right? I am NOT advocating that we go up to perfect strangers and tell them they're giving their babies poison, lord knows we have enough problems as breastfeeders with being harassed for our decisions. BUT, if a woman comes on MDC who fed one of her kids formula by choice and not by necessity, and she sees a conversation where people are merely VOICING THEIR OPINION on the issue and feels guilty, I'm sorry but I see that as a good thing. If those feelings of guilt inspire a person to make changes, to do better for themselves the next time around, isn't it counterproductive to our cause to avoid guilt completely? That is also why I said we spend too much time nit picking about the words we use.

Additionally, I think a few hurt feelings is worth risking if it improves the well being of a child-the well being of millions of children actually...
annettemarie's Avatar annettemarie 05:17 PM 03-31-2008
Which is all well and good. But I still maintain it is disingenuous to say that we (collective we) didn't take part in "making" someone feel bad under the pretense that we can't "make" anyone feel anything. Words have power, for better or worse.
YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 07:20 PM 03-31-2008
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YummyYarnAddict's Avatar YummyYarnAddict 07:28 PM 03-31-2008
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momofamiracle's Avatar momofamiracle 07:41 PM 03-31-2008
OK. My first post ever on MDC. I have been lurking for a week or so. Some of you will probably poopoo me or tell me you weren't talking about me, but it doesn't really change the silent or voiced judgement I have received for needing to use formula. Here is my sort of brief story.

I had HELLP syndrome at 28 weeks and my son and I almost died in an emergency cesarean. Him from extreme prematurity and me from a nearly ruptured liver and blood loss from the HELLP syndrome. He was only 1.5 lbs at birth and spent 7 weeks on a ventilator. Gratefully most of the rest of his NICU stay was largely "uneventful." I am happy to say we are both not only alive but well. He is now 2 1/2 and against medical odds is doing extremely well. Meeting all of his developmental milestones and ahead in some areas.

I began pumping as soon as I woke up from my c section. I don't even remember my first pumping session because I was still on mag. I worked up to pumping 10 times a day while DS was in the NICU. I knew that preemies especially need breastmilk if they can get it. My supply was scant at best. I did everything the LCs suggested. Lots of pumping, oatmeal, fenugreek, water intake, rest. I even ordered domperidone from Canada. The dom actually did increase my output 2 fold which helped immensely.

DS had a decent latch when we began trying to bf at 36 weeks gestational age. But his lungs were damaged from weeks on the vent. He would work SO hard and only get 1/3 of his needed volume. Eventually I had to face the fact that I had low supply, slow letdown, and a slow flow in general. I started giving him breastmilk in bottles. He ate like a champ! We were soon ready to go home as he was accomplishing his bottle feedings like a master!

At home his lungs were still too weak to feed directly from the breast, so we continued breastmilk in bottles. I pumped for a total of 9 months. I pumped up to 10 times a day and then had to turn around and feed him. On top of that, I had a medically fragile newborn home. He was on some medications and oxygen. He slept with an apnea monitor that often gave false alarms. I lived on no sleep for months.

Around the 9 month mark his demand caught up with my supply and my freezer stash. I also got thrush and mastitis on the same breast at the same time. When I went to the OB, she took one look at my tired face and said, "Do you need somebody to give you permission to stop?" I began to cry. Somebody understood what I had been through. I was exhausted, in pain, and suffering from PTSD from my experience. I didn't want to stop pumping but I really did need to.

It was only a couple of weeks later and I was in a mother's room at BR Us. Another mom, who was breastfeeding, gave me a weak smile and said, "Oh, did breastfeeding not work out for you?" I was floored and nearly speechless. Only a month earlier that would have been my breastmilk. I found myself spewing forth the details of my experience. She looked horrified but tried to cover and gathered up her baby and wished me well.

So, what do I mean to tell you with this very long story? You really DON"T know what women have been through to get them to where they are at. When finding the urge to silently judge a formula or bottle feeding mom, maybe remember my story.

It is easy to believe that breastfeeding is always easy and natural. I would love for that to have been my reality but it wasn't.

And yes, you can't make me feel guilty....but if I have guilt (misplaced or not) for my son's early arrival and my "inability" to continue to pump or to b/f at all...are you helping me or hurting me with your judgement?

Food for thought. Thanks for reading.
ramama's Avatar ramama 07:59 PM 03-31-2008
Momofamiracle, thanks for sharing your story. I would never comment to, or give a sour look, or make a snarky comment to a FFing mother, because you never know the reason. Formula is a miracle substance when it's needed, and there are instances when it's needed. My SIL also had HELLP with her two boys, and although the birth went well and she was diagnosed early, she continues to have problems and BFing has been up-in-the-air since before birth, not knowing what kind of medications and interventions would be necessary.

My main criticism of FFing is not FFing itself, but the predatory advertising of manufacturers.
sushifan's Avatar sushifan 08:26 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by annettemarie View Post
Which is all well and good. But I still maintain it is disingenuous to say that we (collective we) didn't take part in "making" someone feel bad under the pretense that we can't "make" anyone feel anything. Words have power, for better or worse.
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I'm all for making informed choices. But how is it my business to inquire or judge another mother regarding what she chooses to feed her child? My views on this debate can be summed up as follows:

Formula is fine.
Breastmilk is better.
Do what you need to do to balance your child's nutritional needs with your own health and well-being.
PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 08:28 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by momofamiracle View Post
So, what do I mean to tell you with this very long story? You really DON"T know what women have been through to get them to where they are at. When finding the urge to silently judge a formula or bottle feeding mom, maybe remember my story.
I'm sorry to hear that you have been judged, but please know that the purpose of lactivism is not to judge moms who feed formula. As I see it, lactivism is working towards a world where breastfeeding is supported in all of society and health care, where formula companies abide by the WHO code of marketing breastmilk substitutes, and where formula is used only when medically necessary.
PatioGardener's Avatar PatioGardener 08:32 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by sushifan View Post
:

I'm all for making informed choices. But how is it my business to inquire or judge another mother regarding what she chooses to feed her child? My views on this debate can be summed up as follows:

Formula is fine.
Breastmilk is better.
Do what you need to do to balance your child's nutritional needs with your own health and well-being.
I also feel the same way about informed choices, and not judging, but I would sum my views as:

Breastfeeding is normal.
Formula feeding increases the risk of health problems.
momofamiracle's Avatar momofamiracle 08:35 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
I'm sorry to hear that you have been judged, but please know that the purpose of lactivism is not to judge moms who feed formula. As I see it, lactivism is working towards a world where breastfeeding is supported in all of society and health care, where formula companies abide by the WHO code of marketing breastmilk substitutes, and where formula is used only when medically necessary.
Let me start by saying I was very committed to bfing when I got pregnant. (Obviously or I never would have perservered with pumping under my circumstances.)

Here is where another question comes up, however. Who defines medically necessary? Could I have decided I was going to persevere through the thrush and mastitis? Could I have continued down the path of physical exhaustion in pumping and feeding (which feels like feeding twice) and taking care of a fragile preemie? I suppose medically it would have been possible. But, was it good for me? For my sleep? For my mental state? And to take it further for the health of my child if his mom is going to ridiculous lengths to maintain it?

If we start leaving it to medical necessity...who decides on whether or not it is necessary?
savithny's Avatar savithny 08:37 PM 03-31-2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by PatioGardener View Post
Donor breastmilk should be available at an affordable price to all women who need it
How would this be done, while appropriately compensating the women who provide it?

There's not enough donor breastmilk out there now for everyone who would us it if they could. If we're proposing to make it available at an affordable cost to everyone....

Lets just say that I forsee a system a bit like the wet nursing system getting discussed below, or like the villages in India that are full of women acting as surrogates for rich (white) Americans. Coercing poor women into providing what is literally the fruit of their body. Back in the day of "baby farming," the women nursing the children of rich families would often deprive their own child of nourishment to have more for the paying customer. I wouldn't take that kind of "donor" milk in a million years.
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