Well, this is one of the…weirder pieces of news that I’ve come across. A man in China has become licensed as a breast masseur – hoping to help mothers that are unable to produce enough milk. Which is an…interesting …niche to be filling. Frankly, this is what lactation consultants and breastfeeding educators are for – and what’s more – breastfeeding specialists generally help women find long term solutions, rather than short term ones. (what’s that old adage about teaching a man to fish….).
What really gets me is that Xia, the male masseuse, is not training his female employees to be breast masseurs because of their turn-over rates (which just smacks of sexism, discrimination, and the problem that most women of child-bearing years face in the work force). But, he’s worried that mothers won’t want men rubbing their breasts (check out some of the local reaction here), but is just hoping the culture will change, you know, just like there are male OBGYNs.
I’m not saying that men shouldn’t be OB/GYNs or Lactation Consultants, not at all. But I think there’s a reason that women-centered fields (like doulas, midwives, and lactation support) are female dominated. I imagine that most women feel more comfortable with other women when dealing with these sensitive issues, understandably. Because women generally understand women’s issues better. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see how this develops.
In other news – Wired Mag had a really interesting piece: “Liquid Gold, The booming market for human breast milk” (haha – get it….liquid gold is the name for colostrum. Hooray breastfeeding puns!), about mothers selling their milk online, milk banks, and Prolacta, a new organization supplying human milk fortifier made from human milk! Really interesting.
As the years go on, I think it’ll be really interesting to see the ethics that develop around human milk sharing, selling, etc. Prolacta doesn’t pay moms for their milk donations, so while they pay to modify and screen the human milk, they don’t pay for their supply. Most companies exist to turn a profit (right?), so I can’t help wondering what their profit is, and what they’re doing with it. Turning a profit off of mothers’ donations would seem pretty wrong (icky, I think is the word) to me.
I think the take away message about informal breast milk sharing or buying breastmilk online is to know who the supplier is. Ask questions and if you don’t feel comfortable, trust yourself. Also, despite the somewhat negative tone in the article, Breastmilk banks are a really fantastic and fill a very important role in society – they provide vital nutrients for premies in the best way possible! So yes, it’s a lengthy process, but it is also very necessary. And – Human Milk Fortifiers are extremely important for premature infants – helping breastfeeding mothers to provide extremely nutrient rich breastmilk to their babies (adding more calories to breastmilk) and for it to be based on human milk rather than cow’s milk is terrific. Just some ethical considerations! That’s all 🙂