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Breastfeeding Eight Babies?! Yikes!

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We consult a lactation expert to find out if this is even possible.

mother breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is challenging with just one baby, but can you imagine having to nurse eight?! Some are saying that the breastfed octuplets may even need 11 gallons of milk per week. Is this even humanly possible???

Corky Harvey, co-founder of The Pump Station and Nurtury in Santa Monica, CA, says it absolutely is. Corky, who is an MS, RN and an IBCLC (certified lactation consultant), knows that breastfeeding comes with its set of challenges, but feels very confident that the mom of eight can successfully supply breast milk to her newborns for quite some time. "It will depend on the mother's commitment. If I had eight babies, I would be pumping to bring my supply up and bring breast milk to these babies during the most vulnerable times of their lives. Pumping for the babies will also make this mother feel more involved while they are still in the NICU. She will feel like she is actually doing something for them -- that she can be there for them in some way."

Corky says that at 31 weeks, it's unlikely that these babies will be brought to breastfeed for some time, as right now they are most likely on several different IVs. A lot of babies, especially preemies, cannot handle the coordination of swallowing, so they are fed through nasal gastric tubes. Once doctors determine whether the babies can digest the milk, they will be introduced to the bottle. Babies at this stage are given so little milk, usually just a few ccs, so Corky sees no reason why this mother couldn't keep up with the demand.

"Pumping always depends on the mother and is different for every woman and baby. But typically, we recommend pumping every 2 - 3 hours during her wakeful hours, and every 3 - 4 hours at night. Once her milk comes in, she can gauge whether she needs to pump more or less." Corky adds that it may be a while before these babies are able to actually feed from the breast as their mouths are very tiny and have usually received a lot of bottles. But with the help of occupational therapists and lactation experts, Corky believes that it's entirely possible.

For babies born this prematurely, Corky believes the greatest benefit from breast milk is its ability to fight disease. "By consuming breast milk, [the newborns] are at less risk for infection. There is greater opportunity neurological development, and it's better for their digestive tract. The babies will receive live disease fighting properties that you simply cannot get from formula."

Would you nurse eight babies? Tell us your thoughts in our ML Community!

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  • I Am One of Nine

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    50 comments so far | Post a comment now
    micheleinohio January 28, 2009, 10:38 AM

    Would I? Hell no!

    anon January 28, 2009, 12:02 PM

    Good for her! She has 8 preemies so its worth a try right? Im worried about nursing the ONE baby that will be here this summer.

    Kali Bird Isis January 28, 2009, 12:11 PM

    Absolutely I would. Those kids will have enough health challenges seeing that they are preemies. All babies need and deserve mother’s milk to grow well and to keep disease at bay. More power to this mother for keeping the commitment she made to them by bringing them into this world!

    mamapersoff January 28, 2009, 1:25 PM

    What a wonderful dedicated mother. I am breastfeeding my adoptive daughter. Before she was born, I thought, “I never want her to think she missed out on anything just because she is adopted.” The mother of octuplets is giving her babies a wonderful gift they would have obviously had if they had been singleton babies.

    ERICA January 28, 2009, 1:30 PM

    I most definatly would. Those babies will need all the help they can get.

    Beverly January 28, 2009, 1:34 PM

    I would absolutely give it a try!
    You can nurse two babies at once. So every 5th feeding the same two babies would be on the breast.

    Definitely she could make sure that every one of her babies receives breastmilk at least once per day.

    CA January 28, 2009, 1:43 PM

    If only I could have, I had a hard time just keeping one baby fed nursing. First of all - I wouldn’t have EIGHT babies at one time - that’s not humanly natural.(I’d say possible - but thanks to modern medicine) WHAT people won’t do for attention. SO whose going to help pay to RAISE these children?

    Sami January 28, 2009, 5:10 PM

    CA - I’m sure she didn’t have 8 babies to get famous!
    If papers and mags are happy to pay them for an interview I’m sure they’ll find a good use for the money although considering the mother has chosen to be anonymous at the moment I don’t think you can accuse her of doing anything for attention!
    If I found myself pregnant with multiples I would continue the pregnancy, and why not? there is no real reason to abort one or more of them its too hideous for me to contemplate!

    in answer to the question YES I would provided them with breast milk, they will hardly take any at the moment and expressing it would be much easier and quicker than actually breast feeding a newborn so no reason not to!

    Sheila January 29, 2009, 1:31 AM

    MAMAPERSOFF - Did you take medication to start lactating before your adoptive daughter was born? I’ve heard of this once before but can’t remember what the medication was called. I’m hoping to adopt in the next five years (I have four boys, one girl and would like to get at least three off to college first) and I would love the opportunity to try and breastfeed my adopted child. As for this new mother of eight…I would imagine she will need to supplement with formula as the babies get older, but to just “top them off” so to speak. If she can produce enough milk so that each babe gets breastmilk first, I would think they would need formula too. Of course, I’m talking about in the near future when they are all able to physically breastfeed from their mama, then let papa finish up with a bottle. I hope she is very successful with nursing, what a wonderful, unselfish mother!

    Breastfeeding Moms Unite! January 29, 2009, 8:07 PM

    In this day and age when Facebook can’t even see fit to display breastfeeding photos without censorship, it’s really great to see this courageous mom announcing to world she’s willing to try to give her babies the best start possible by breastfeeding them. And it gets the message out in a way that a million dollars worth of Public Service Billboards never could. ——

    She should be voted for mother of the century for wanting to even try and should be given full support and celebrated, not mocked.

    Let’s face it, we live in a world where most women take the easy way out wherever they can rather than surrendering to the spiritual power of being an ‘intact’ mother.

    Anonymous January 30, 2009, 11:22 PM

    She already had 6 kids. she is insane. We aren’t meant to have litters and people like this are a plague on the planet

    Anonymous January 30, 2009, 11:26 PM

    This is called breeding into oblivion. Six children weren’t enough? She can’t provide for 6 let alone 14!

    delilah February 1, 2009, 12:03 PM

    Other species of mammals have evolved to adapt to the challenges of having litters of offspring by having several teats/nipples. Their offspring are much more independent much earlier than humans. Humans are helpless at birth and need parents for many years. Humans have only 2 nipples for a good reason. If the human species keeps having litters of offspring, I believe we will eventually evolve to have several teats/nipples. We were not designed to have litters. period.

    SC Mom February 3, 2009, 11:15 AM

    I think she needs to be evaluated by a board certified panel to determine if she should be allowed to have that many children. I personally think she’s lost it!! Who in their right mind would have that many children and no job or means of income. Maybe she should call Brad and Angie!

    anonymous February 8, 2009, 1:33 AM

    Actually if you read the hospital’s updates on the website she isn’t breast feeding the babies at all, they are getting DONATED and pasturized breast milk. The hospital is encouraging her to pump, but as of yet, nothing from mom.

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