Would you let me breastfeed your baby??

Well okay, I don’t necessarily mean “me”.  I actually mean a n other lady.

I was reading an article in Fridays paper “New Day” – entitled “Meet the mum who lets the nanny breastfeed her baby”. It is a description of a nanny called Chloe Whitcombe who is a mum herself to two year old son Rudy.  She became a nanny to Leanns seven month old baby Effie, who refused to take milk from a bottle when her mum returned to work.  Chloe suggested that she could breastfeed Effie as she was still feeding her own child – and the mutually beneficial arrangement began.

This reminded me of a group conversation we had during coffee afternoon a couple of months back.  One of our mums (Abigail) asked the question – would you accept another mums breastmilk to feed your baby in dire circumstances?

The conversation was triggered by a report of a Police officer Luisa Fernanda  in Columbia who had breastfed an abandoned newborn baby – believing the baby to be starving and verging on hypothermia.

Luisa said “I’m a new mother and I have milk and I recognised the needs that this poor little creature had.  I think any woman would have given her nourishment in the same circumstances”.

The conversation that ensued amongst the mums was fascinating.  Almost all said that they would gladly feed another baby in such circumstances.

More interestingly – a number of our mums that are formula feeding said they would have considered donated breastmilk for their babies if it had been available.  We then talked about the rising number of mums that are embarking upon milk sharing informally.  An amazingly popular Facebook group “Human Milk 4 Human Babies –  UK”   has over 11,209 followers and regular postings of  spare milk that is available for other mothers to feed their own babies.

The World Health Organisation says that donor milk is the best option following one’s own expressed milk.  Probably not that surprising as it is of course from humans!  As the popularity of milk sharing grows La Leche League states that benefits include optimal nutrition, easy digestibility and immunologic protection – whilst risks can include transmission of bacteria or viruses, environmental contaminants and unhygienic storage of unprocessed donated milk.

But coming to the point of my posting – would you let another woman actually feed your baby – as in – put your baby to her breast and feed them?

It was fascinating amongst our group to discover that whilst the vast majority of mums would happily accept donor milk they simply couldn’t accept the idea of another woman providing the milk directly from her breast.  It seemed that they were scared that their baby might “bond” with the donor in a way that they couldn’t achieve themselves.

Yet “Wet nursing” is seemingly increasing in popularity.  On Human Milk 4 Human Babies – UK there are regular posts such as “Wet Nurse urgently needed in Cornwall”.

Wet nurses are women who breast feed and care for another woman’s child. Historically employed when mothers were unable or chose not to nurse their child themselves,  wet nurses common to many cultures and have been used throughout time.

In a recent UK survey in which women were asked “Would you wet nurse a friend or relative’s baby?” the results were quite astounding.

16% – Yes I already am

33% – Maybe, I’d certainly think about it

51% – No, it’s a bit weird

Personally I would have happily done this for a job – I felt the heartbreak of not succeeding to feed my eldest child – and felt the satisfaction of being able to feed my second child with lots of wonderful support from my Health Visitor.

If someone had been willing to pay me to sit and feed their child I would have definitely considered it.  But would you have considered employing me???

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