There are some new rules governing what used to be called “mother’s milk,” or “breast milk,” including one about what to call it when it’s no longer in a mother’s breast. A term, then, nomenclatural: “expressed human milk” is milk that has been pressed, squeezed, or sucked out of a woman’s breast by hand or by machine and stored in a bottle or, for freezing, in a plastic bag secured with a twist tie. Matters, regulatory: Can a woman carry containers of her own milk on an airplane? Before the summer of 2007, not more than three ounces, because the Transportation Security Administration classed human milk with shampoo, toothpaste, and Gatorade, until a Minneapolis woman heading home after a business trip was reduced to tears when a security guard at LaGuardia poured a two-day supply of her milk into a garbage bin. Dr. Ruth Lawrence, of the breast-feeding committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, promptly told the press, “She needs every drop of that precious golden fluid for her baby”; lactivists, who often stage “nurse-ins,” sent petitions; and the T.S.A. eventually reclassified human milk as “liquid medication.” Can a woman sell her milk on eBay? It has been done, and, so far, with no more consequence than the opprobrium of the blogosphere, at least until the F.D.A. decides to tackle this one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, does provide a fact sheet on “What to Do If an Infant or Child Is Mistakenly Fed Another Woman’s Expressed Breast Milk,” which can happen at day-care centers where fridges are full of bags of milk, labelled in smudgeable ink. (The C.D.C. advises that a switch “should be treated just as if an accidental exposure to other bodily fluids had occurred.”) During a nine-hour exam, can a woman take a break to express the milk uncomfortably filling her breasts? No, because the Americans with Disabilities Act does not consider lactation to be a disability. Can a human-milk bank pay a woman for her milk? (Milk banks provide hospitals with pasteurized human milk.) No, because doing so would violate the ethical standards of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. If a nursing woman drinks to excess—some alcohol flows from the bloodstream into the mammary glands—can she be charged with child abuse? Hasn’t happened yet, but there’s been talk. Meanwhile, women who are worried can test a few drops with a product called milkscreen; if the alcohol level is too high, you’re supposed to wait and test again, but the temptation is: pump and dump.
A must, must read!