Generation ship: 100% breastmilk solution

Discussion in 'SciFi & Fantasy' started by caters, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. caters Registered Member

    I was thinking about the possible issues with breastfeeding and how the aliens on the generation ship are anti formula. So I think I have come up with a solution that doesn't involve any formula whatsoever.

    Here are the potential issues with breastfeeding:
    • Low milk supply
    • Overproduction
    • Medical issue with the mom
    • Baby too premature
    • Mom just won't breastfeed
    Of course, if the baby is too premature for direct nursing, then either IV nutrition or an NG tube would be given and if the NG tube is given, the mom can connect a breast pump to the NG tube and if an IV is given, the mom can pump breastmilk and store it.

    Low milk supply could be corrected with either a lactogenic treatment(increased lactation) or supplemental breastmilk from donors.

    A woman with an overproduction issue would be a great breastmilk donor.

    Now, I was thinking that if none of these 3 previous issues is the problem, then depending on whether it is medical or personal, the mom should be treated differently but the baby should be treated the same.

    The baby would either be:

    • Fed by a mom that is already breastfeeding
    • Fed by a young woman who has induced lactation
    Or in WCS, fed by an alien who is lactating.

    For women with a medical issue, lactation should be stopped as soon as possible. For those with a personal issue, they should donate breastmilk.

    But is my reasoning about breastfeeding issues and how to solve them logical for a generation ship where the aliens are very anti formula? Or is there a fault in my logic somewhere?
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  3. spidergoat Venued Serial Memberlist Valued Senior Member

    Aliens lactating? Is that joke? Why would aliens manifest a distinctly mammalian trait?
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  5. caters Registered Member

    Why not? My aliens have a pouch to hold their eggs in and keep babies below 6 months of age warm so it makes a lot of sense that they would also lactate.
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  7. spidergoat Venued Serial Memberlist Valued Senior Member

    How do you breastfeed a baby in an egg? Aren't eggs already filled with protein?
  8. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    So your aliens are against the use of artificial milk but are okay with IV treatments? Why do they draw the distinction? And on what basis?
  9. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    This isn't in a science section; give the OP more idea than argument.

    Whatever is the most logical but I couldn't wrap my head around breastfeeding aliens.
  10. caters Registered Member

    They draw that distinction because for premies that don't have much of a swallowing reflex and have underdeveloped lungs, aspiration pneumonia is of real concern. And premies are more likely to have reflux than full term or post term newborns which raises the risk of pneumonia even higher. So this means that there is a minimum gestational age at which an NG tube is useful. Any baby born before that age would have to have IV nutrition.

    Formula isn't necessary for any baby, regardless of gestational age, to survive and in some ways formula feeding is worse than breastfeeding. For one thing it increases the risk of childhood obesity. And breastfeeding makes the mom have a lower risk of breast cancer as well as helps develop a strong bond by secreting oxytocin to release milk. Theoretically, it could speed up or induce labor due to this oxytocin but the amount of oxytocin produced while breastfeeding is small compared to the amount needed to speed up or induce labor.
  11. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    It's not an argument, just trying to see what the issue is with using artificial breastmilk, because it may be that the rationale for being anti its use is flawed, and thus this would negate the issue from the outset.
  12. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Sounds like your aliens are really people. Those issues/characteristics are pretty unique to humans. (Nothing wrong with that; most science fiction shows portray aliens as English-speaking humans with funny noses or something. But it does make things pretty boring.)
  13. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    My question was more around the notion that both the IV and artificial milk are artificially providing supplements that the baby will benefit from, so why do they allow one and not the other? I am aware of the current reasons we are currently advised to give preference to feeding babies with natural rather than artificial milk, but I am simply trying to understand why the "very anti" stance of the aliens?

    Also, what is the technological level of the aliens or the time period of this story?
    Could formula not have been vastly improved by then so as to be indistinguishable?

    If it is simply an unexplained plot device then fair enough, the options you offer seem sensible enough. Really just checking you have thought things through, as introducing a plot device in one aspect may lead to inconsistencies elsewhere... such as stories that use antimatter as fuel but then conveniently forget to mention that each ship is effectively a flying bomb capable of devastating cities.
  14. caters Registered Member

    There is 1 ingredient that is found in breastmilk but is impractical to put in either formula or IV nutrition. That 1 ingredient is antibodies. Even if they could have the exact human milk protiens and exact percentages of every nutrient, it still wouldn't be the same. And I already said in my previous post why IV nutrition is allowed for those that need it due to being premature. Digestive system defects are another reason to put the baby on IV nutrition regardless of gestational age.

    The time period is actually not all that far from today. The time period the story starts in is the 2020's. The time of arrival on the destination planet is in the third milennium on Earth. The technological level of the aliens is much higher than ours. They are able to use artificial gravity to prevent the side effects of weightlessness and are able to genetically engineer humans for the better(such as giving them a high fat metabolism rate to prevent obesity).
  15. Equinox Registered Senior Member

    They have technology to transport nutrients directly into their bodies; hypothetical problem solved.
    Now the only problem they have to worry about is Chaos Theory/Murphy's law - if something can go wrong (and eventually will go wrong) how would a generational ship deal with such eventualities?

    Assuming of course they have sorted out serious issues such as the availability of breast milk.

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