Would You Let Another Woman Nurse Your Baby?

Would you feed another woman's breast milk to your child? Would you nurse another woman's child?

A recent post on Parenting magazine's parenting blog addressed "cross-nursing." The gist is this:

Writer nurses for a little while, but after going back to work, decides it is not for her. A friend with an 18-month-old still nursing offers to pump for both her own son and author's son. Author takes offer and is appreciative. Breast milk cures eczema.

It's a great story and not nearly as ooky as I thought it would be going into it. Breast milk is an amazing gift we give to our children, so why not give it to other children, too? Right?


Well, yes. Except that I would sooner let another woman sleep with my husband than put her breast in my baby's mouth.

Pumping? Maybe. But cross-nursing? Never. Not unless my baby was in deep, deep need and breast milk was vitally important for his survival.

Nursing a child is a deeply intimate experience. One of the most intense and gratifying relationships of my life (if not the most). I love putting my (now 26-month-old) son to my breast and holding him close. Our nursing relationship has changed over the years, but even in the beginning, it was like that.

Breast milk is healing and it's powerful and stories like the Parenting blog one are important. Breast milk donation helps many premature infants and adopted children with allergies and children who cannot feed from their mother's breast for whatever reason. Pumped breast milk in a bottle is one thing, another woman's breast in my child's mouth is another.

I'm embarrassed I'm such an advocate for breastfeeding yet so horrified by this idea, but I can't help it. I have seen Hand That Rocks the Cradle too many times, I suppose.

One of the most special parts of breastfeeding is that only I can supply that perfect blend for my child. He or she came from my body and my body can feed him or her. I'm thrilled with the benefits of the milk, but it's the relationship it forms that makes it so special.

People nurse for a variety of reasons and that is mine. It's milk that only I can make. If someone else nursed my child, I would feel inadequate.

Now, obviously, some people are more comfortable with the concept and more power to them. There are powerful stories of women who die in childbirth and their nursing friends band together and nurse the orphaned child for months. Breast milk can be unifier that way and if a child ever needed food and I had some to give, of course I would.

But generally, nursing is very difficult. Just feeding my own children by breast is exhausting and having the milk enough to cover them was hard enough. There are many moms who have bags and bags of extra stuff frozen and for them donation was no big deal.

I never did.

Breast milk is a precious commodity around here, so unless the circumstances were dire, I need to keep it all for my own babies.

I know there were wet nurses in the past and they fed babies for years, but I'm not one of them. My breast milk is for my babies and if for some reason I was unable to nurse, barring any allergies or health risks, I probably would have just gone with formula.

I'm easily ooked like that.

Would you feed your baby another woman's breast milk?


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