Is it inappropriate to nurse a friends baby?

Lana - posted on 05/20/2013 ( 84 moms have responded )

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This was posted in a discussion forum on facebook. I AM NOT INVOLVED IN THIS POST IN ANY WAY! It is something I found on Facebook that was suitable for debate.

" I babysit my friends baby and I've secretly been breast feeding her. I just had a baby myself and I feel that formula is toxic and not healthy, and I wouldn't feed it to my baby, so I'm not feeding it to my friends baby either. I have tried to encourage my friend to breastfeed but she refuses. I know I crossed the line but I do it for the health of the baby. I want to tell her but I don't know how, I think it will end our friendship. We've been friends since middle school. How can I tell her and convince her to breastfeed? Please only serious advice, and non judgmental comments. Thank you."

What are your thoughts? I was beyond shocked.

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Mary - posted on 05/22/2013

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I am 71 years old, nursed five children, and was a La Leche League group leader for a number of years. On occasion, a few trusted friends breastfed my babies while caring for them, and vice-versa. However, what this woman has done, while well-meant, is way out of line. I don't think even La Leche League would approve of such an underhanded and judgemental decision! To say nothing of the fact that if either baby has even a simple cold, or even thrush, the other can get it. Speaking only for myself, if I found out someone caring for my infant had substituted formula for my bottled milk, I'd be furious!
So, I imagine that when this woman tells her friend that she decided breastfeeding is better for her friend's baby, and took it upon herself to do it, the friendship will be no more!
Addendum: The mother in question, wanted "only serious advice and non judgemental comments" . Is that really possible in this instance? The writer herself made a judgement of her friend's parenting, and possibly put herself in legal jeopardy.

Lana - posted on 05/22/2013

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Stop with the "you" i would never do such a thing! This is just a debate topic.

Lynn - posted on 05/22/2013

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Well, what would you think if this was reversed? What would you do if you found out that the pumped breast milk you left for the person watching your child, was not being given to the baby, but instead they decided it was better and healthier for them to have formula and they were secretly giving to your baby? Plus exactly like another mother said, why not just pump and put it in a bottle, instead of putting the baby to your breast. This mother absolutely crossed the line, in more ways then one.

Tammy - posted on 05/21/2013

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Why, why, why must women judge each other??? Not breastfeeding for whatever choice is her choice to make and hers alone. Because she made the choice to use formula why do you feel the need to judge her and force your views on her baby.
Curious what if she was feeding your baby formula without your knowledge?? And why not pump and use a bottle?
In the end let your friend make decisions for her baby, you make the ones for your baby and stop judging her for her choices.

Dawn - posted on 05/21/2013

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Not only is it highly inappropriate, it's dangerous! If a woman had pulled this behind my back with my youngest son, she would have killed him because he wouldn't be getting enough nutrients. As it was, with formula feeds boosted to 30 cals/oz he was still losing weight due to his heart issues. I do believe breast is best (in most situations) but in ours it really wasn't. It's a very personal issue and NOBODY has the right to make that decision for somebody else. She has to ask herself, would she be OK if she found out that her friend was secretly throwing out the bottles of breastmilk and feeding her baby formula? The issue is the same.

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Vy - posted on 06/08/2013

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Does the movie The Hand That Rocks the Cradle come to mind? I'm a proponent of breastfeeding too but no woman has the right to breastfeed a child except the mother or with the mother's consent. WTF was that "friend" thinking?!?!?!? IDIOT!!! To clarify, I know it's not you. That friend better tell the mother what she's been doing just for the sake of her child's health, better to be aware about it in case of future health issues. And that friend just better be prepared to kiss her friendship goodbye and ask for forgiveness from her friend and give her space to forgive. She needs to own up to her irresponsibility and put that child's physical and mental health above her concern over her friendship. Sorry, but "friends" don't betray each other's trust in the first place.

Emma - posted on 06/05/2013

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I dont care if breast milk is best for baby, the only breast milk that is good for my baby is mine, there is a bigger picture here, the bonding one instantly has with a baby when feeding naturally, who the hell has the right to take that away from a Mother? For those of you who are erring on the side of forgiveness for this woman's crime, then you might as well be ready to forgive someone for rape, because this is a violation equally as reprehensible, and with equally the same amount of psychological, and physical dangers, lets hope that the violator in this case, doesn't have any diseases that can be passed through her breast milk, if you google what diseases can be transmitted this way, you will be shocked to see the results, some of them, women have without even knowing they are carrying it for a long long time,Absolutely disgusting. This isn't a well organised and medically tested circle of women who have offered their services as a wet nurse, this is a violator who has decided to take it upon herself to abuse her position that was entrusted to her, by this Mother and her newborn baby.

Emma - posted on 06/01/2013

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omg, please forgive me, I thought it was the OP who was doing it * smacks forehead several times* I am such a TWIT

Emma - posted on 06/01/2013

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Ok, sorry , but that's just wrong on so many levels. Do you have any idea of the confusion you are causing for that baby? Breast feeding other than great nutrients, is on of the single most nurturing things a Mother and Child can have, the baby immediately feels a bond , and you have now bonded with someone elses baby, and that poor baby has no idea what the hell is going on.

There is also a health issue, are you clean enough? What I mean is, maybe your hygiene isn't up to the standards of the Mother of that baby, but she has no choice does she? Secondly, do you have any diseases that can be transmitted from you to your breastmilk and then to the baby?

This is nothing short of a violation, a violation of trust, ethics and the rights of the Mother to be in control of her babies well being.

Here is what you do, you immediately tell her what you have been doing, she will fire you, and rightly so, you will then pay for her medical bills so she can go and get baby tested for anything you might have transmitted ( hopefully nothing) Then you can go home, sit down, think about what you have done, how you would feel if someone had done that to you, and wait patiently for a Lawyers letter, because frankly, I would sue you to Kingdom come.

LEAVE that baby alone, before the poor thing gets even MORE confused.
It's a violation of both baby and Mother, and its EQUALLY as bad as rape.

Lana - posted on 05/30/2013

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Shawnn I'm actually not talking to you at all. The other post was directed at another poster and this my response in this post is directed at those who continuously use "you" if you felt attacked I apologize because I am not just talking to you.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/30/2013

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Lana, in two posts now, I've taken up for you, and I see comments immediately following mine that you're assuming that I'M THE ONE BASHING YOU. When, in fact, I'm either supporting your position (in the other thread) or posting a generic answer (which in this thread was not directed towards YOU, but another poster).

Do you feel that I'm calling you out, or trashing you? Please elucidate.

Lana - posted on 05/30/2013

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I AM NOT INVOLVED IN THIS! I am not nursing anyone's baby but my own! Read and stop accusing and threatening me please. I rephrased the question to make it more clear and now I'm just getting irritated with the threats.

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/28/2013

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So, I'm gonna direct this at "star powers":

Who is trash talking? No one that I've seen. I have unequivocally seen support for the biological mother of the child in question.

The young lady who took it upon herself to feed another child from her breast WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THE BIOLOGICAL PARENTS is in the wrong. Most likely it could be termed assault, and if you really get a gung ho judge, it can be skewed into the sexual variant of assault.

So, just because 98% of us are in support of the biological parent on this, and in favor of the young lady with the questionable integrity owning up to her mistake in assuming that she knows best for everyone doesn't mean we're "trash talking" and need to "shut the fuck up".

And, no, I will NOT apologize for my language, since it was yours.

Sweetie, I think you need to garner a better understanding of what you LEGALLY can do as a parent, caregiver, etc.

Susan - posted on 05/26/2013

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YES it is very inappropriate to nurse anyone's baby but your own, especially if your friend doesn't know about it.
Regardless of how this friend believes, that mother has decided to formula feed her child.
What she needs to do is mind your own business. Did you know that what she is doing can be considered assault? She could lose your own child!
Formula is nowhere near as good as breast milk. However, your breast milk is for your baby, and breastfeeding a friend's baby behind her back shows an immense lack of respect for her.
She needs to open up and be honest with her. It may be that she's okay with it, though I can't imagine. People used to hire wet nurses all the time.

Star - posted on 05/26/2013

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have you ever thought she dried up after not breast feeding yes i am on your side on this but after a week of not breastfeeding you dry up what can you really do i like what you did by feeding her baby but its going to get the baby to wanna get breastmilk but you are doing good no matter what i disagree with what others think about their trash talking they would do the same thing if they were in your shoes they should quit their trash talking and shut the fuck up sorry for my language but its true and to be honest i would do it becouse the formula has things breastmilk doesnt

Haylee - posted on 05/26/2013

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wow this is crazy! I think it was very wrong for her to breastfeed her friend's child. It is the mother's choice as to whether she wants to breastfeed or not and this woman crossed the line. If I were her friend I'd be very upset

Heather - posted on 05/26/2013

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I think it's really sad that this woman felt she couldn't talk to her lifelong friend about this. It's also really scary that she would go behind her back and nurse her child when she knows the way her friends feels. Nursing creates a bond.. and she had taken it upon herself to have that bond with her friends child..stepping all over the bond between her friend and the child. She needs to stop right away..and have a talk with her friend about what she has been doing. It will be hard..yes..but it needs to be done. By doing this she has created health concerns that would normally not be there..and the mother of this child that she so blatantly violated has a right to know and have her baby checked out.
Needless to say..I am the only person that nursed my children, however, I did nurse a child I was a Nanny to at the request of the biological parents because they were away 90% of the time and did not feel that pumped milk was safe. If it is an arrangement and precautions are taken then it is alright..otherwise it is definitely not.

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I think that is a complete overstep and that it is wrong. While there's nothing wrong with sharing your opinion, once, on breastfeeding, going behind that person's back and breastfeeding their child without their knowledge is just wrong. She needs to seek some help.

Dolly - posted on 05/24/2013

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If I ever found out my Baby-sitter took it upon herself to make decision which is not for her to do. I would hit her with a LARGE Lawsuit .

♫ Shawnn ♪♫♫ - posted on 05/23/2013

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My first thought was "that's why they had wet nurses in the victorian times". THEN I read this.

Lana, the person who assumed that she knew better than the child's mother is extremely in the wrong. She took a child into her care, was trusted by the mother to care for said child according to the MOTHER'S instructions, blatantly disregarded said instructions, and if she didn't take proper sanitary measures between feeding her child and the other child, could be held liable for any health problems stemming from her decision.

So, my answer is two-folded: NO, it is not inappropriate to nurse another's baby IF YOU HAVE BEEN ASKED TO, and you take the proper sanitary precautions. HOWEVER, in this instance, of the young lady taking it upon herself to be so damned judgmental of her "friend" (some friend, IMO, who won't heed your directions with your child) it is HIGHLY inappropriate! And I seriously hope someone clued the "friend" into the FB post!

Rebecca - posted on 05/23/2013

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Breastfeeding is great for those that can. Firstly, not her baby not her choice. She can voice her opinion and educate her friend but this is crossing the line. Also, not everything in breast milk is the same in the moms and babies can have allergic reactions to the proteins. It can cause skin reactions, GI issues, or worse.

Mary - posted on 05/23/2013

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Again, Lana is NOT the one breastfeeding a friend's baby; she merely posted something she read, for a debate. Have some of the repliers even thoroughly read Lana's post??????

Cecilia - posted on 05/22/2013

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She knows she is wrong. The problem here is that she is doing something the mother did not want. If someone chose breast milk and pumped and sent them to the care of another person, that person chose to give formula instead. The mother would be livid also. The reason why, she thought she was doing what was best and someone made another choice for her.

Destinee - posted on 05/22/2013

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Wrong yes very in the sense that it its dishonest, not to mention the risk of transmitting disease. I don't disagree with a wet nurse they have been around for a long time. I do however disagree with someone making a decision about my child and its health without my consent.

Tiffany - posted on 05/22/2013

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what's inappropriate here is that she's sneaking it, not that she's bfing her friend's baby. What a ift it would be for the child to be breastfed from ANYONE (doesn't have to be mom) however, mom needs to be cool with it. THIS is not ok.

Lisa - posted on 05/22/2013

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this is totally wrong in some many ways.......i would be totally upset to find out a friend of mine was doing this....I believe it is totally unappropriate......

User - posted on 05/22/2013

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Why put the baby to the breast? if anything pump and ask your friend if she wants it for the bab y.

Anna - posted on 05/22/2013

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Edit: My comment was directed towards the mother, not the poster. I realize they are two different people. :)


I can't even fathom what you were thinking! This really is wrong on so many levels. I'm all for breastfeeding, and I breastfed my own son, and I'm all for donating milk as well, but how could you think it was OK to breastfeed your friends child? For one, breastfeeding is an intimate form of feeding and as a mom, I wouldn't appreciate somebody else doing that with my child. In fact, I would feel like my child was violated or sexually harassed. For another, certain diseases CAN be spread through breast milk like HIV, HVLT-1, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A and B, Herpes Simplex, chicken pox, and even Lyme disease (which you may not even know you have!). As a parent, I would probably press charges against you if it were my child. It is completely her choice to decide what she does with her child and YOU don't have the right to make that choice. Doing it behind her back is just evil. Do you not have any integrity at all? You are not a true friend if you can't respect her decisions. The formula may not be 'best' but it certainly won't kill her child so what right have you to decide that for her?

I know there are wet nurses and have been for thousands of years, but there is a big difference called CHOICE. I recommend you stop doing this and tell the mom. If you feel that strongly about it tell her you can't baby sit anymore or offer to pump milk for her. If she says no then you'd better not give her baby pumped milk. And if you can't resist the temptation, get out of the fire! Stop babysitting if you can't stop being judgmental of her choices.

Jross2529 - posted on 05/22/2013

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This is completely and absolutely inappropriate! As a breastfeeding mother going on 2 and a half years with my daughter, I agree that breast is the best but that is only a choice you have with your own child and not of others children. Not only is breastfeeding a healthy choice for a baby but it is also a special bond between the baby and his/ her MOTHER not a bond between baby and mothers best friend. I understand you are trying to do the right thing but you have crossed the line! Please stop what you are doing because not only are you making yourself look bad but you are also putting out bad things about other mothers. Honestly if I were your friend I would feel very hurt and never speech to you again. It is unfortunate that even began this ridiculous act! STOP!

Alanna - posted on 05/22/2013

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Breast is Best I agree with you there, but that's where it ends!
Your intentions may be good but, look at it this way, as long as you cannot be honest about it, what you are doing cannot be right. Somethings are morally right or wrong and other things are a matter of choice.
And this is one of the "matter of choice" ones. That baby will not die or go to hell because she is not being breast fed.
Continue to try to encourage her to breast feed and stop there, respect her choice.
I have three kids, I have always breast fed and I am presently breast feeding the youngest one. I would NOT appreciate anyone of my friends putting their breast in my baby's mouth without my permission.

Jen - posted on 05/22/2013

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All kinds of wrong. Stop. Confess. Face the consequences. Understand that someone else's choice is none of your business. It is not, and never has been, your job to make decisions for anyone but you. Your friend made her decision to bottle feed. It's not your place to second guess or convince her otherwise. It's a decision that was never yours to make. You should be ashamed.

Lauren - posted on 05/22/2013

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The most glaringly inappropriate thing about this is that disease can be transmitted via breastmilk.

Anna - posted on 05/22/2013

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I think this is completely inappropriate. As a pro-breastfeeding mom, I understand why you feel that this is the right choice, but this is not your baby! You can not force your beliefs on anyone else, not even your friend. I suggest you explain to her why you feel breasfeeding is better and then offer to pump for her. There is nothing wrong with giving a baby pumped breastmilk. Of course, this is assuming she forgives you for secretly breastfeeding her baby without her permission. I know you're afraid of losing your friend, but honesty is always best. You should expect some disbelief and some anger and she may be able to move on or she may not. This is someone else's child and you just violated a bond of trust you've had for many years. I know we're not talking about taking her kid out and getting them a tattoo or something, but this is still a big deal. I breastfed both of my boys for as long as I could, but people need to understand that there is nothing wrong with formula feeding either. You think it's toxic, and it certainly isn't as beneficial as breast milk, but beautiful, healthy children are raised with it all the time!

You need to tell your friend. And apologize. This was not your decision to make for her baby. Then offer to supply some pumped milk, remembering that this is also something she may refuse and that it's ok!

Celeste - posted on 05/22/2013

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On a side note, please don't lump all breastfeeding advocates in the same category as this woman. I consider myself a lactivist, but I would NEVER do anything like this behind another woman's back. Women like this, IMO, really sets lactivists back :(

Celeste - posted on 05/22/2013

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Quoting Kristina Rivera:
"I would have completely adored someone to "wet nurse" my baby for friendship. our culture is so messed up to think this is wrong or crossing a boundary... nursing each others babies has been going on for centuries (wish I could find the sources)."

While I do agree with you, this is not the point. The point is that the woman did it without the mother's permission.

Tricia - posted on 05/22/2013

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It's highly inappropriate what is being done here. If you had gone to your friend and offered your breast milk that would be okay, but going behind her back. It crosses a major line. You can not impose your ideas on your friend. It is her choice to breast feed or bottle feed not yours. I think also not to be harsh you should seek some counseling.

Lisa - posted on 05/22/2013

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Oh my gosh. This completely crosses the line and quite frankly I think I would even go to the police. The decisions on how to raise a child are the responsibility of the parents. The parent has decided to not breast-feed, that is her choice and it should be respected. Furthermore, what if her child begins to have issues, allergic reactions because of what the 'friend' is consuming and passing along to the child. How does that get explained? And what about the intimacy this is creating between another woman with this child? I think that would hurt me more than anything else. Providing my child with a bottle and cuddling is different than a child snuggled in and nursing (in my opinion). I'm crushed for the mother and the friend should stop immediately. Just stop and never do it again, ever. As for telling the mom - it will destroy the friendship. Even is she forgives you, there is a father that has rights/opinions as well and he may not be so forgiving. I nursed my children and many of my friends did not and for their own personal reasons. I respect their decisions, I trust their judgement and I love them. That is what friendship is.

Sharon - posted on 05/22/2013

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It is not her decision what her friend feeds her baby. Many women are unable or choose not to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. If she was my friend we wouldn't be friends any longer. That is definitely crossing the line and completely wrong.

Emilie - posted on 05/22/2013

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What if the mom can't breast beed because she's inverted of flat nipped and it hurts to try so her only option is to formula feed. What she did was wrong taking that bonding time from her friend like that. I feel my daughter and I don't have a very strong bond because I couldn't breast feed her and shes 4 now. Thank god i was a stay at home mom cause if i found out someone other than me breastfeeding my daughter id be pissed. If i was ever going to let any breastfeed my daughter it would have been my twin sister whos son is 4 months behind my daughter if either one of us could. But even then i mostly like wouldnt let her because that would be mine and my daughters great bonding one on one time. What you did is wrong and i hope your friend wont let you watch her kid any more.

Jodi - posted on 05/22/2013

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"our culture is so messed up to think this is wrong or crossing a boundary... nursing each others babies has been going on for centuries (wish I could find the sources)."

Actually, this isn't even about nursing another person's baby, but rather, nursing another person's baby WITHOUT her permission. That's what I have an issue with. If her friend agreed to it, then it's her choice, but no-one else has the right to make that choice on her behalf, and that is exactly what the woman did. It IS crossing boundaries.

Meagan - posted on 05/21/2013

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Inappropriate. Disgusting. Illegal. There are many things I think of this. First, I have nothing against breastfeeding, and I understand wet nurses, but it is HIGHLY inappropriate to decide to breastfeed another person's child. You do not know the reason for their choice not to breastfeed. Maybe that child happens to be one of those rare children (that DO exist) that cannot HAVE breast milk due to an allergy. The intention may be good, but it COULD be causing harm. Aside from that, I don't know what another person is putting into their system so I sure as hell would not want that going into MY babies system! I am pretty sure I've heard of this before, and the woman being charged with a crime. You cannot take another persons child and breastfeed them! Although not sexual in nature, it is very easy to call it JUST that when it is an unrelated baby, and very hard to deny it was innocent. Aside from that potential, I am pretty sure that the story I heard involved other charges, not sexual in nature, that were undeniable.

If there is an agreement between friends, then fine. Who cares? But this is a situation where she is not only violating her friends trust, but also crossing a huge boundary. Honestly, in HER mind, she may be selfless, but the truth is that she is very selfish. What is best for a child is between the mother and child, whether anyone else agrees with it or not. Obviously there are guidelines, like a black eye does not equal love, but in general, it's between mother and child. No one will agree with every parenting decision, but that does not make it ok to decide what is best for another persons child.

Not to bring up a spanking debate, because it's irrelevant, would this still be ok if this woman felt that spanking was the best discipline method for her friends child who was normally put in time out? Obviously not! Let's ditch such a clear choice and say that this mother does time outs while the other does redirection only. Less extreme, but it would still be unacceptable to force a child into time out when that is NOT the approved discipline method, especially without the friends consent!

This person wants her friend to breastfeed because of HER point of view. She is willing to destroy a friendship based on what SHE feels is right. She is a selfish person who is doing something inappropriate at best and illegal at worst. No matter how anyone feels about breastfeeding, you cannot breastfeed another persons child without their consent!

Leann - posted on 05/21/2013

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with a back stabbing disrespectful friend like you , your "friend" certainly doesn't need any enemies. How dare you impose your views on her / child without her knowledge.I would be pursuing assault charges on you against the baby and add inappropriate conduct with a minor charges. After all you have put your breast into this babies mouth. A year or 2 older and you would be on a sexual offenders list. Disgusting!!!!!!!!

Kristina - posted on 05/21/2013

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I would have completely adored someone to "wet nurse" my baby for friendship. our culture is so messed up to think this is wrong or crossing a boundary... nursing each others babies has been going on for centuries (wish I could find the sources).

and the one who thinks that if it is sold in stores it isn't toxic is an ignoramus.

I tried & failed at breastfeeding each of my two babies, & used formula instead, they are healthy & happy.

breastfeeding is CULTURAL, & the american OR "western" or modern culture does NOT support breastfeeding & it is SAD, how CRUEL you people are.

Eva - posted on 05/21/2013

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As a new breastfeeding mother, I am truly offended. It is your friend's baby, her body and as a friend you can encourage her but should not take it in your own hands. The bonding is special between mother and child and to experience that with her child, as well as not tell her is just wrong and so disrespectful.

User - posted on 05/21/2013

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im not shocked.. Because my babys grandma did brestfeed a nothers child in hospital.. But to do it without premission, that you should do not.. as somebody said.. if you want to give the baby brest milk give it in a form of a bottle.. But before that tell thr babys mother abouy it...:)

Monica - posted on 05/21/2013

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I would absolutely press charges on this so called "friend" and push it all the way. This is so WRONG!!!

Kerry - posted on 05/21/2013

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Still it should be the other mothers decision and she should eb made aware. You wouldnt give blood to a child without consent.

Kerry - posted on 05/21/2013

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There are many reasons a mother may choose not to breast feed. If formula was toxic it wouldnt be in stores. Its not up to you to decide whats best for your friends baby and im appaled that you would breech her trust by doing such a thing. If my friend did that I dont think I would ever talk to her again. Your baby gets your breast milk, good for you, but shame on you for the lack of respect you have for your friend.

Azza Jamila - posted on 05/21/2013

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Hi Lana. It is good that you're concerned for the baby's health. You could have just pumped your milk and give it to your friend so that the baby will also have breast milk. I hope you just respected your friend's decision not to breastfeed.

Rebecca - posted on 05/21/2013

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"How can I tell her and convince her to breastfeed?" Bottom line, it's just not your call to make, mama. I'm just appalled that this woman is calling herself a friend - moms, new moms especially, need support not incessant judgement. Making the decision to breastfeed is such a personal choice and for whatever reason her friend chose not to breastfeed her baby - that has to be okay. Several valid points have been made by other commenters, but let's also talk nipple confusion in addition to creating bonding issues for this baby and her mama. And might I also say, this woman entrusted her most precious gift with her "friend," and that trust has been completely betrayed and violated. No, she will most likely not be able to salvage the friendship, and P.S. and FYI, so not her job to "convince her to breastfeed." Have a little grace and understanding, not to mention, again, it's just not your choice. Are there many valid arguments for breastfeeding? Absolutely, this is so far from being one of them it's crazy. She's killed whatever chance she could have had for making a rational, helpful argument for breastfeeding.

Beth - posted on 05/21/2013

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Some women are ok with a "wet nurse" but that is CLEARLY not what this situation is. You are infringing on one of the most sacred bonds in humanity: The bond between the mother and her baby. I have done extended BF with both of my children, but in my opinion, the damage you are doing to the mother/child bond is FAR greater than the “damage” YOU PRECEIVE is being done by formula feeding. Millions of babies have done fine on formula. Each family has to make the choice that is best for their family.

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