Breastfeeding another woman's child: the modern wet nurse

Filed under: Nutrition: Health, Development/Milestones: Babies, Health & Safety: Babies, Media, Your Pregnancy


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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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.