Yes it is currently a taboo topic. Sharing breast milk. Many of my friends turn their noses up at the merest mention of it. And they are definitely not alone! The way I see it, the fact that someone would produce milk for another child is a beautiful act. But far too rare. I mean seriously people, you are happy to share the milk from a cow… And most often you don’t even personally know the cow!! What’s more disturbing?!
I highly doubt I need to highlight the many benefits of breastfeeding, but just in case, here are a few (in no particular order):
- Mother-baby bonding
- Post birth recovery
- Weight-loss post birth
- Nutritional value for baby
- Immunity for baby
And the list goes on.
If for some reason I couldn’t breastfeed my baby, I would be finding someone to either play the role of wet nurse or to donate some milk. I have to admit though, I do have a few questions & concerns that perhaps you could help me (and many other women) with.
My first concern would be that of health. I feel I would need to interview (interrogate) the lovely person who was supplying my baby with milk! What are they eating/drinking/breathing?! Perhaps breast milk is (unfortunately) in short supply so beggars can’t be choosers? Having said that, I am sure that a) the occasional junk-food-filled breastmilk is better than nothing and/or formula, and b) if someone cares enough about the health of your child to supply their breastmilk, you can trust that they want the best for him/her!
Secondly, I have got to admit that I would feel rather jealous of the wet nurse. I love love love snuggling my daughter in for a feed. It is the most beautiful thing to feel/see/do. Did I mention I love it? I think I would have to work very hard at seeing the bigger picture of “it’s not about me, it’s about my baby”. I would also be jealous about the bond that would be built between baby & boob. I would love that my baby had the opportunity to experience that bond, but would struggle a little with it I think. Does anyone have experience with this?
Thirdly, how does it work?! I can understand expressing and supplying milk. But how does a wet nurse work if they are actually nursing your child? Would you have them live-in? Can you still provide on-demand feeding if they don’t live with you? Please excuse my naivety!
There isn’t enough information out there for parents who are looking for breast milk for their baby or toddler. I look forward to seeing this change.
- There is a great network called ‘HM4HB – human milk for human babies‘ where you can find someone in your area to donate milk to your baby or for you do donate milk to someone else. It is worldwide so just visit their website, google ‘HM4HB [insert location here] or do a search on Facebook.
- As I was writing this post I started looking for other information on milk sharing and I found this wonderful blog: Journey of a Wet Nurse. You can also ‘like’ her page on Facebook & follow her journey. I have so much respect for this woman. Whilst I support milk sharing, I’m not actually getting out there and doing it like she is! Go girl!
- My (unofficial) step-daughter is adopted and was fed formula as a baby (not sure if her mum & dad looked into options for milk sharing) but as she became a little older and was still drinking milk (ages 1-3) they fed her goats milk rather than cows milk. The reason being that goats milk is closer in composition to human milk than cows milk is and it is easier to digest. I don’t have an opinion either way on this but thought some parents may find it interesting/useful. Here is a link for more information.