Breastfeeding another woman's child: the modern wet nurse

[deleted account] ( 96 moms have responded )

Found this on another site...

Thank you, Stella, for this tip. There was a very interesting article about modern wet nursing, recently. Wet nurses, it seems, are back— if, indeed, they ever really left. The article talked about the wealthy women who are quietly hiring wet nurses to take care of their children. This seems disturbing to me because I would like to think that women would want to do this for their own children, but on the other hand, if women cannot, then I applaud the decision to provide breastmilk for their babies. It's a complicated issue.

For the most part, though, the article focused on the women who nurse their friends' babies to help out. This can lead to hurt feelings if the baby's mother hasn't given prior permission for this. However, there are instances in which I completely understand the impulse to nurse another woman's child. I have nursed two other women's babies. It was a long time ago, and I was good friends with both mothers, and both mothers were with me, and I had prior permission to do so.

In the first case, my own baby was about six weeks old. I was visiting my childhood church, and my friend Lisa was there with her baby, almost exactly the same age. Lisa had been alternately nursing and using formula; she had not brought formula with her, and her milk was dry. Her baby was trying to nurse and pulling away from the breast, screaming with frustration and hunger. Nobody had bottles or formula there, so finally I asked if I could nurse the baby. Lisa nursed my own child at the same time just to comfort him, and I fed her hungry baby.

On the second occasion, I was in the back of my friend's van, she was driving, and her baby was screaming bloody murder, so I just nursed the baby in the car long enough to quiet her down so we could park the car and her own mother could nurse her.

What do you think about this? Is this a nice, sisterly thing that women do for each other, or are you completely grossed out?

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Sherri - posted on 10/12/2010

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Well then you go ahead and have some other mother stick her nipple in your child's mouth it will not be happening here. It is just not right.

Kate CP - posted on 10/12/2010

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You do realize that sticking a finger in a kid's mouth is actually nastier than a breast, right?

Sherri - posted on 10/12/2010

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No I don't at all a breast was first developed to feed your child, NOT someone elses!!

Cassie - posted on 10/12/2010

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but formula is from a cow's "breast." Why is that more acceptable than milk that was specifically made for a human infant? To me, it means that you (general you) have an issue with the sexual aspect of the female breast..

Sherri - posted on 10/12/2010

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It is probably a cultural thing. Breastfeeding itself is so rare here, I can't imagine allowing my child to breastfeed off someone elses boob. I supply everything my child needs I do not need someone else to ever do that for me and I would be horrified if someone else offered. To me that is just not right. Honestly before this thread I have never even heard of such a thing. It is unheard of here and such a foreign concept.

I would never let my child suck directly off a cow either, so I am certainly not allowing it off another woman's breast. Honestly I would buy formula any day then take another woman's breast milk even if it is in a bottle as well I just can't get past it.

Charlie - posted on 10/12/2010

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Yes i mean another womans breasts ? im just curious as to what makes you feel the way you do about wet nursing :)

Krista - posted on 10/12/2010

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processed bovine mammary secretions

Mmm....processed bovine mammary secretions....(drool)

/Homer Simpson

Charlie - posted on 10/12/2010

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Is that because you think of the breast as sexual Sherri even when used to nourish ?

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2010

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I agree with Lisa. Cow milk comes from the udder aka breasts of a cow.

Minnie - posted on 10/12/2010

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Hormone and antibiotic ridden processed bovine mammary secretions combined with corn syrup make me gag ;).

Kelina - posted on 10/12/2010

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When i needed a sitter for an extended period of time i just gave him to someone who could nurse him for me. Pumping was a huge hassle, and i had no problem nursing someone elses child. Who cares? it's breastmilk! Unless that person had health issues like smoking or disease, which is why i can understand having issues if someone i don't know wanted to breastfeed my child but a friend or family member whom i know? no problems. It's a lot more natural to me than putting them on synthetic milk.

[deleted account]

TBH if someone offered to breastfeed my son I would be grossed out. It's way beyond my comfort zone and to me breastfeeding is a bonding experience between mother and baby only. If other people are comfortable with doing it fair enough!

Jocelyn - posted on 10/12/2010

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I love the idea of wet nursing. I would nurse a friends baby in an instant! I would also let my friends nurse my baby (baring any health issues).
I make TONS of milk and would love to be able to donate my extra, but we don't even have a milk bank in our province let alone near me :(

April - posted on 10/12/2010

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also...sometimes i see babies crying in stores and their parents are just ignoring the child...and i will have this feeling of wanting to nurse that child! i think a mother's instinct isn't always just towards her own children...

April - posted on 10/12/2010

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around here, formula is 30 dollars a can and more for the special ones!

PS. i would wet nurse the baby of someone i am close with (friend or family). if i know the person but i'm not close with that person, i'd make sure they got a clean bill of health before i'd nurse their child. i don't mind who nurses my son, as long as they are healthy and follow a healthy lifestyle.

[deleted account]

I wouldnt say no to expressed b/m from another mother..if my child really needed it.I would only do that if i gave birth to a very ill baby or very premature.

[deleted account]

I don't think it's gross, but it's definitely beyond my comfort zone. In a desperate situation I'd go for it, but I'd prefer formula if it were a possibility.

Joanna - posted on 10/11/2010

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I can see how some people have a problem with it, being it's another persons bodily fluids... I can see why some might be a bit grossed out by it.

I personally have no problem with it, it's nutrition for the baby, and as long as the woman providing the nutrition is healthy and doesn't have any medical issues affecting her breastmilk, then good for her for helping other babies who need to eat.

Stifler's - posted on 10/11/2010

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It's a beautiful thing to do for someone else. I'd never have enough milk to do it I don't think but if I did and someone asked I would. I'm not grossed out about it.

Cassie - posted on 10/11/2010

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I was actually planning on donating my milk to a bank before Amy and I agreed to give her daughter my milk. It saves me the hassle of getting the milk to the milk banks and such but I'm still able to help a baby who needs it.

I don't know how much formula is around here but I know she was really saddened about the idea of resorting to it.

Charlie - posted on 10/11/2010

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And milk banks are SO expensive even if she wanted to stay with breastmilk not to mention the price of formula ( $20 a can ) here !

I would love to be able to donate to a milk bank but we dont have any close by which is a shame .

Cassie - posted on 10/11/2010

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I was actually kind of nervous when I offered. She's been asking me tons of breastfeeding advice since she knows I breastfed Kiera for so long and Elizabeth is her first. I wasn't sure how she would react when I offered but she accepted gratefully. I'm just glad to be able to help. It saves her the money of formula and lets me know that I'm helping another baby get a good start. :)

Charlie - posted on 10/11/2010

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Cassie that is fantastic , good on you and good on her for accepting it !

Sherri - posted on 10/11/2010

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Just my opinion I do not want fluid that comes from somebody eleses body going into my child. Formula works just as well if I can not breast feed personally myself.

[deleted account]

I would be uncomfortable having another woman bf my son, although I was uncomfortable with the thought of actually bf myself until I got pregnant and got this major urge to bf my son (unfortunately he never latched but thats a different story), so until I was in a postition where I needed another woman to bf my child I am uncomfortable with the idea. Although if he was really hungry and I couldn't feed him and had no formula and a really close friend or family member offered I would let them.

On the otherhand I would bf a close friends or family members baby if they asked me to, to help them out, I would be fine with that. I think maybe like Sharon said I would feel jealous of someone else feeding my baby.

Sherri - posted on 10/11/2010

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In that instance Sara then you do what you have to do. However, for my children it will be my breast milk or formula because I find it gross to use someone elses breast milk or even worse to have another woman breastfeed by child. No way, sorry.

Cassie - posted on 10/11/2010

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I'm actually currently giving a coworker my extra pumped breastmilk. I have a freezer full and our daughters are only two weeks apart in age. Her supply is really diminishing and I'd hate to just throw away my unused milk so she is taking it.

I view it as a blessing to have a large enough supply to be able to help her out!

[deleted account]

Sherri, my aunt adopted a baby who was 11 days old. She was highly allergic to formula. The ONLY way to keep the baby alive was to receive donated breastmilk and have lactating women nurse her. How is it disgusting to keep your children alive?

Sherri - posted on 10/11/2010

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I think it totally and completely disgusting and gross!! I will be the only one ever to nurse my child or they will be on formula. Period!!

Krista - posted on 10/11/2010

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I don't see an issue with it either, as long as it's someone I know and I'm aware of their health history.

Minnie - posted on 10/11/2010

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Cross nursing is normal and is carried out by close female friends and relatives in many cultures. I see no problem with this.

Charlie - posted on 10/10/2010

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I LOVE it , i would do it and if i needed it i would allow someone else to do it given i knew their diet :D

Ashley - posted on 10/10/2010

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Have to agree with Sharon i would not be comfortable ether way not going to get into it but my baby =my breast lol but wouldn't be weirded out if someone else did it in front of me im complicated lol

[deleted account]

I'm personlly grossed out by it. Just something NOT for me, whether it is another woman actually nursing my baby or handing me a bottle of expressed milk. My child, I'll feed him. It would make me very uncomfortable and feel like a huge failure as a mother. When my son was an infant we went to a nursing mommy's group every Thursday with 2 other teacher friends I worked with. We all had babies within 20 days of each other. One of those women was such a milk machine and made so much milk, she did offer on numerous times to give me a few frozen bags. I appreciated the offer, but for me, it was just not something I was comfortable with at all. So no, I would politely decline a wet nurse.

[deleted account]

I would help out a friend or relative, but if someone else, anyone else even a close friend or sister nursed my baby I would be extremely jealous feeling. I guess I'm a double standard or something.

Cassie - posted on 10/10/2010

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I would definitely nurse a close friend's baby or my sister's baby. I would in turn be fine with them nursing my children. It is food. Formula is often derived from cow's milk and no one is bothered by drinking milk intended for a baby calf so why should anyone mind getting human milk from a human mother. (I'm not sure if that really makes sense but it's how I see it in my mind.)

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