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Would you let someone else breastfeed your baby?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma ~ Eartha Kitt.
Parenting (216)      Breastfeeding (8)     

breastfeeding, baby, mother, baby feeding
Photo is from Wikimedia Commons.

Wet nursing, the practice of hiring someone else to breastfeed your baby, was common practice in many Western nations up until the nineteenth century. It has recently come into vogue again in California, with a staffing agency hiring out wet nurses for mothers who are unwilling or unable to breastfeed their children due to breast implants or surgery, or for other reasons.

There is also a practice known as cross nursing, where mothers who are sisters or friends breastfeed each other's children as an extension of sharing childcare, or to give milk to a child whose mother is unable to produce enough.

Would you have concerns about the possible transmission of disease, or worry that your child would bond with the other woman more than you? Or do you see wet nursing or cross nursing as viable alternatives to pumping your own milk or using bottled donor milk or formula?

Would you let someone else breastfeed your child? If so, why, and if not, why not?

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Top Answers
Not a good idea. You're the mother, the nurturer of your own baby.
Would you let someone else bottle feed your baby, comfort them if they're hurt or mind them for you while you go out? Just because you let other people help doesn't mean you're not nurturing your own baby.
I just couldn't do it it would feel too weird.
A friend has fed my baby. She was holding my daughter while I was in the middle of doing something (making tea or doing the washing up, something like that) when my daughter made her hungry cry. My friend offered to feed her so I could finish what I was doing and I agreed, so she did. It was no big deal, just the same as comforting a child who had fallen over and needed a cuddle. I have also fed one of her children under similar circumstances. When you're holding a baby that lets you know it's hungry and the noises it makes cause your milk to let down it's kind of hard to resist the instinct to feed it. It just makes sense.

It's probably not a good idea to let a stranger feed your child, since there could be issues with allergies or something. A friend you trust, whose diet you know is different.
Of course it's o.k. for another person to feed your child, as long as it is a bottle.....................and not breast feeding....lol

After all what mother would be too busy 'not to feed her own child her own breast milk''.

Never heard of such a thing!...all Babies love their own mummy, could you imagine how that baby would be confused, and the mixed messages it could send?
Only in very rare conditions, even then would would have to hesitate.
by jonaja
As I said, I have done this and I think my daughter was particularly confused. She just accepted it as normal. It made no difference whatsoever to her love for me nor mine for her, nor to our breastfeeding relationship (which continued for several years).

Plenty of mothers are "too busy to feed their own children their own breast milk". Lots of women go back to work while their children are still young and have them fed formula or expressed milk instead. I don't think that makes them any less of a mother. Nor does using donor milk or a wet nurse. They're just different ways of feeding.
I take your point Jennifer, and respect it.

But it is the very first time in my life I have ever heard of it....if the Mother is in the same house or venue.That's all.

by jonaja
I have had someone feed my baby and I've fed another's baby. I find it far better then introducing something like formula to a poor defenceless babies gut flora then another mothers breast milk. It doesn't negatively affect the child and I would happily do it again if needed
It's always interesting to see the extreme reactions to this question. If we didn't view breasts as sexual and we didn't live in a capitalist patriarchy, no one would batt an eyelid. The goal would be well fed, well loved babies, and well cared for mothers. As it is no one can imagine a mother not being free to feed her baby (what if she's sick, or she has four other children, or she just needs a break!? Mother are human too yk!)

In many cultures cross nursing is NORMAL, it's just pent up hypersexualised western cultures that freak out over it. We think we know it all but really we're pretty damn backwards.

Would I feed someone else's baby? Yes, and I've done it several times. Would I let someone else feed my baby? Yes, and I have done several times. My sister and a dear friend have both fed mine and I've fed theirs. I have no concern about disease with those women, and as for bonding .... well they wouldn't have breastfed from them if there wasn't already a bond! Breastfeeding didn't alter the bond in any obvious way. If it did however, I would think it was lovely that there was someone else in the world that my baby felt safe with.
Absolutely not. I am the best mother for my children, and my milk is the best milk for my children.

However, just because I wouldn't do it, doesn't mean I would disapprove of others doing it. In this day and age you would have to be really really careful. HIV can be transmitted via breastmilk, how will you know the wetnurse isn't HIV positive? And just because they tested negative at the start, how do you know they won't become positive during the meantime? You'd have to be really sure about the wetnurse. Same with donor milk.

But I can certainly see there are reasons for preferring a wetnurse or donor milk. But I would think these are only valid in the first 12 weeks, because after that wouldn't formula be a reasonable substitute? It's a long time since I breastfed, so there may be more information than I know about. But I am not against it per se, just that it would have to be well considered.
For myself, I am very glad that I breastfed my own children. I did have to supplement (I had twins) and gave up breastfeeding altogether at 4 months because I was too exhausted. But I wouldn't have allowed a wetnurse or accepted donor milk. I still enjoyed the personal contact time holding the bottle to feed the babies and felt happy enough with the formula at the time.
Why do you think things would change at 12 weeks? Breastmilk is better than formula at any age. The formula companies aren't even allowed to claim that formula is as good.
I can't speak for others.
But it's my view that a mother should nurture her kid as long as possible - as it's not only the best ever health food for the baby but also the natural warmth the baby needs and creates a psychological bond between them. It can be the best healing for a baby in distress.
All above Okay - unless there is a compelling medical/physical reason which inhibits the mother's ability to feed the baby..
I would, absolutely. In the first 10 weeks after my son was born, we struggled enormously with breastfeeding and I was close to giving up. I had to supplement with formula, which I will always regret, and if there had been someone who could have fed my baby human milk instead of altered cows milk, I would have jumped at the chance!

As for bonding, that is about so much more than just breastfeeding. Being a mother is not just about supplying milk, otherwise how would a baby ever bond with their father? And as Meggf has said, having other people the baby bonds with, feels safe with can only be a good thing.
I don't think that I would have an issue with someone else breastfeeding my child - obviously I wouldn't pick some random stranger off the street! I would absolutely prefer a trusted friend or family member to breastfeed my child than to have my baby be given a bottle of formula. Most of the people around me bottle feed their children though so this isn't something that has come up.
Definitely not!
Germs, diseases?

My m/i/l boasted that each time she had her own baby (three), she had oversupply of milk (huge boobs just normally, glad I didn't see her then!) & she 'supplied' for other babies & eventually earned nickname of 'Jersey Cow'!

Totally gross & yuck, the whole process IMO!
If I had a baby, I would be the one to nurture and bond with the baby. I wouldn't allow another woman to do it. Definitely not a good plan.
If it was necessary I would have no hesitation in having someone else feed my baby. I wish I'd known about it when I struggled with my first child. I would gladly have handed the task over to another. As for bonding, it's only a feed when it's all said and done.
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