Did My Baby Drink Another Mother’s Milk?

by Alicia Lewis Murray on June 11, 2009

I’m mortified to have to admit that my 3-month-old baby daughter may have, probably, most very likely, did drink another mother’s breast milk yesterday. Here’s what happened:

Upon picking her up from daycare (I call it school when I like it), I grab her bag with leftover bottles for the day. I usually take four full bottles of breast milk in for the day. She usually drinks three of these, some days four. Never only two. I take the sheet that lists what how much she drank and when she drank it, put it in the bag and head out the door.

Once home I start to unload the bag of bottles and put one in the fridge. This is what I usually do, put ONE in the fridge. This day, however, there were two bottles full of milk. What?

Let’s review:

  • I brought 4 full bottles.
  • She drank 3 full bottles.
  • I came home with 2 FULL BOTTLES!

OMG! What did she drink for one of those three bottles today???

So, this clearly isn’t my fault, except that I’m a mom and moms blame themselves. I’m the one who sends her to daycare. I’m the one who works. I’m the one who should be feeding her. If she didn’t have to get a bottle, there would never, ever be the possibility that she could be given another mother’s milk. It simply couldn’t happen.

I wasn’t intending to write about this, but think that it might help another mother who is dealing with working-mom guilt. Who is punishing herself for sending her child to school (see, I’m trying to turn it around here by saying school). We do what we have to. It’s not our fault. While I am pissed this happened, and I normally don’t say the word pissed on the blog, I don’t think my daughter is going to be harmed by this. I’m going to assume this other mother has perfectly fine and safe breast milk. That she doesn’t do drugs or drink too much alcohol. That she doesn’t have some illness that could possibly be transmitted through her milk. I have to believe this or I’ll go crazy with guilt for not protecting my daughter.

There’s a flip side to this story. What about the mom whose milk my daughter drank? What did her baby get that day? Either one less bottle of precious liquid gold that she lovingly sat and pumped for her baby or nothing. If my milk, that I drained my breasts for my loving daughter, was given to another child I would be just as pissed as I am that my daughter is the one who drank someone else’ milk. It’s a no win situation.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

akeorlando June 11, 2009 at 9:25 am

I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little sick…. Of course, I am a dude.

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Cassie June 11, 2009 at 12:51 pm

I love that you call it liquid gold. I always felt the same way. If I happened to leave it out too long and had to throw it away, it was almost torture :)
Don’t worry, I’m sure your daughter is fine. Actually, I know that some people buy breast milk and feed it to their kids.
All this talk about breastfeeding makes me wanna have another kid :)

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Andrea June 11, 2009 at 3:19 pm

Don’t feel guilty. It’s not your fault in any way.

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Jean Lewis June 11, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I’m sure Emerson is just fine. It is not your fault.

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Jenna June 12, 2009 at 9:53 am

I’ll echo what everyone else is saying…it’s not your fault. But I too would be furious. Did you ask them about it this morning? I completely understand the working mom guilt…I have a very bad case of it and it tortures me daily. Stay strong and hold fast to the fact that you are doing the best you can and as you said, “doing what you have to do.”

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Andrea June 12, 2009 at 10:17 am

I would be so upset in this situation too. I’m sure she’s fine, like you said, but you are right to be pissed (and so is the mom whose milk was given to your daughter!). Working moms can’t blame themselves for situations like this though – it’s fully on the teacher (I call it “school” and “teacher” too). I don’t think dads who work would ever turn it around and make it their own fault, so why should we carry that burden of guilt?

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Kara September 4, 2009 at 10:09 am

I understand where you’re coming from and being P.O. is completely understandable. Just 2 days ago I got a call from daycare (or school, lol) that my 16 mos. old son picked up a bottle of breastmilk that had just been finished by one of the younger babes in the room. He put it in his mouth. While they’re not sure if he got any, and if he did, they say it wasn’t much, I’m still P.O. that that even became a situation. My first reaction was “gross!”, but then anger and fear because his pediatrician pointed our that the CDC clearly states that certain diseases can be transmitted via breastmilk. While the risk is extremely small, I’m still furious. How dare they put my child in that situation!

All in all, I’m sure your baby and mine are fine, but I can understand where you’re coming from. And, as far as the guilt goes, my thought is that I am paying them to be my equivalent (or as close to it as possible) while I’m at work. This incident is completely their fault, and they need to own up to it. Make sure this was documented as an incident report and that you have a copy of it in case you need further follow-up on it. Hope this helps. :)

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Tracey August 23, 2010 at 6:13 pm

OMG.. My 17 month old was at school today and put another babies bottel in her mouth and might have drank his breast milk. I am so upset, i called the doc to get the facts. I understand that its just some thing that happens, but i cant help feeling so scared for my daughter.

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Tammy October 4, 2010 at 1:55 pm

I am flipping out right now. I am also a working mom and just got a call today from daycare that my daughter drank a bottle of another mom’s breastmilk. I spoke to our pediatrician’s office and they asked if the other mom would have a blood test. The mother declined. I understand that it is not her fault, but I would do a test if it were someone else’s child that got my milk. I don’t know her, so how can I trust that she is disease free….whether she knows it or not. Am I just flipping out here? I am furious with the daycare, but can’t reverse it. I feel MORE guilty for working now. This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for my being here at work. Now, my baby is at risk. I don’t know what to do.

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Kate August 24, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’m wondering if other mothers get their *own* mild tested to make sure they are disease free? My pediatrician happens to be a bit of a hypochondriac and despite breastfeeding (on and off) for eight years, I’ve never thought to check my own milk for diseases.

Diseased milk? Do we all think so little of each other than we really think other mothers are giving their babies DISEASED MILK? Some of us would ask for a BLOOD TEST as if the baby had spent time with a potentially RABID BAT and not just another baby’s milk??

I’m going to assume this other mother has perfectly fine and safe breast milk.

Yes, you should all assume that.

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