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Should Your BFF Breastfeed Your Kid?

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More and more moms are letting other women breastfeed their babies. Find out why.

Today on Good Morning America, experts discussed a growing trend called "cross nursing"--a practice where mothers allow other women to nurse their children in order to create a sense of community or for convenience. While some moms view this as nothing more than an extension of the rise in breastfeeding rates, others are concerned that milk from another woman could be diseased. And according to a recent poll conducted by Babytalk magazine, 45 percent of people say this trend is "disgusting" and "weird."

Breastfeeding has lots of benefits -- the milk is free and ready to serve and provides antibodies to young infants, which boost their immune systems and helps them fight infections. So is there any harm in letting another woman feed your baby if you're unable to?

"Although cross nursing is a controversial subject, historically this practice has been around for years," says Dr. Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and the author of Your Newborn: Head to Toe and Your Toddler: Head To Toe. "However, modern medicine has clarified that cross feeding has health risks for the child, especially since infectious diseases (maybe even undiscovered infections), alcohol, and other drugs can be passed through breast milk."

"Mothers who can't nurse their babies could always buy milk from a milk bank," Dr. Cara suggests. "These banks screen the milk for various infections (including HIV and hepatitis) and often pasteurize it, too."

Tabitha Trotter, 41, says she has cross fed for over 40 babies. "It's not that women simply don't want to breast feed," the mother of two says. "Many of my clients aren't able to nurse because they're on medication that interferes with their milk supply. And since studies show breast milk is healthier than formula, they turn to me. I also supply all my medical records and don't charge my clients. I feel like I'm doing something good."

For those moms who do choose to cross nurse, will feeding time still be a bonding experience for babies? "In my opinion, any form of feeding, whether breast or bottle, provides bonding," says Dr. Cara. "It does so for moms, for dads, for other care takers. And babies don't just exclusively bond with one person."

Check out the video to decide for yourself. Would you breastfeed another woman's baby or allow her to nurse your infant?


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29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Too Dangerous  July 28, 2008, 3:59 PM

While wetnurses have been around for a very long time, they usually came around because the mom couldn’t or wouldn’t provide for their baby.

Today, we have so many options—I don’t agree with it now or see it as necessary…there are too many diseases we know of (and don’t know of) that can be passed through breast milk.

Anonymous July 28, 2008, 7:15 PM

No way. No freaking way. The kid gets my boob or a bottle. Period.

Anonymous July 28, 2008, 10:15 PM

I would.

Anonymous July 28, 2008, 10:53 PM

awesome!!!!

jessica July 29, 2008, 12:47 AM

I understand that it is best. I nurse my son still but there is no way in you know what that i would let anyone else nurse my child. Not only is it a huge bonding tool between my son and I that I would not feel comfortable sharing, who knows where someone elses breasts have been. I strongly disagree! Its very wierd.

mom in michigan July 29, 2008, 5:55 AM

this is a practice that was once done by slaves for the Masters children I don’t see how it could hurt today. there was no testing then,and there was all kind of diseases floating around back then. I think it is a wonderful thing.

pat July 29, 2008, 6:08 AM

Why the assumption that moms are accosting other (unknown) lactators on the street? The title question does include “BFF”. If, for some reason, I chose this route, it would logically include requests to sis, cousin, bff, and/or, of course, a full medical history of the “donor” if one were needed.

anonymous July 29, 2008, 7:09 AM

I find the entire breastfeeding phenomenon and REPULSIVE AND REPUGNANT. Go ahead a let someone else breastfeed your baby -

Allison Manfred July 29, 2008, 8:56 AM

Breastfeeding is sucha wonderful thing— I am doing it while I type this— with my own baby, not someone else’s! However, I would rather my friend nurse my baby than give her formula, I’ve never given my baby formula (she’s 7 months) and never plan to. I wouldn’t active seek out someone else to bf my baby, but I really don’t see anything wrong with it, it encourages breastfeeding, which is wonderful, and it has been done for years. I read after the earthquakes in China that a woman was breastfeeding a lot of babies whose moms died and I think that’s great. And to the anonymous poster that said that breastfeeding is repulsive, I am assuming that poster is a man or a woman who has never breastfed. I always knew I would breastfeed my baby, but was uncomfortable about it, until I had my own baby and realizes what an awesome experience it is and so healthy for my baby!

Carla July 29, 2008, 9:15 AM

As a person who is interested in history I am aware of the fact that for years, surrogate mothers called “wet nurses” or as we use to say in the Caribbean “Mammies” breastfed AND took care of the babies first for their slave masters and then after emancipation for their employers. And, this practice came from a society that did not even recognize the humanity of its wet nurses - so hey if it was good enough for them, and they did not realize the irony…….then just open your minds. Its not a disgusting process, many people cannot breastfeed and many babies do not drink from bottles. My niece was breastfed and would not take a bottle regardless of how hungry she was, can you imagine watching a month old child starve herself because she would not latch on to an artificial nipple. People need to get over themselves and consider the benefits to the babies - and as to how many diseases are passed on through the breast, believe me, not as much as a nipple exposed to the elements would have. We have regressed so much as a society in terms of what we used to do that we pervert everything and take what is absolutely beautiful and unselfish and turn it into something disgusting. Animals have for years fostered orphan animals even from different species, what makes us so different and less charitable? Lets give babies all the advantages they can have.

Uggh July 29, 2008, 9:20 AM

I don’t care how close to someone I was I would never allow that to happen. I think it’s risking the health of your child. How well do you really know someone to take that big of a risk with your child? With all the diseases there are out there I guarantee we will hear of some innocent child contracting HIV or something because of this.I feel if it is medically necessary the donors milk should be tested for disease before it is given to a child. I honestly think this should be against the law because of the dangers of it. A innocent baby doesn’t get to choose what it eats and when one of them contracts a disease from this because Sally homemaker thought it was such a great idea to let her child nurse on her friend that had the one night stand and gave her kid a disease then we’ll see how beautiful of a thing this really is.

Mom in RI July 29, 2008, 9:22 AM

I breastfed my son and I can’t imagine ANYBODY else having that connection with him. It is an experience and a bond that I wouldn’t allow anyone else to share. He is my child and came from my body, he will only receive milk from me. I don’t know how people can take this so lightly, unless they have never breastfed. The whole thing is ridiculous, unless there is a medical reason for the baby to have beast milk and the mom is unable to do it. But even then pump it!

Jen July 29, 2008, 9:24 AM

This isn’t something I could see me doing but have heard it is common in other cultures. To each their own, I couldn’t do this but it doesn’t mean others shouldn’t. I know when I was breastfeeding and I would leave my daughter she would scream for hours, so I could see how that would be comforting for some children.

Anonymous July 29, 2008, 11:30 AM

That’s just sick!

Rrika July 29, 2008, 12:06 PM

I am sooo happy that someone is paying some attention. I am a breastfeeding mother who has “wet nursed as well,my brother, and I think that is a great idea for the mom to let her friend nurse her child. As, for the comment for the donor milk at the milk bank, all mothers cannot afford the milk so why not give it away for free by nursing or pumping. I am proud to say that I have done both and there is nothing wrong with that. Keep it up ladies.

mommyof3 July 29, 2008, 12:12 PM

I believe in breastfeeding 100%, but I total disagree with breastfeeding someone elses child. If you want your child to be nursed as a mother it is your responsiblitity to do it YOURSELF. When you nurse a child there is a lot put into it as a mother. You learn what food make you child get an upset stomach and everything. There is no way to control what another woman puts into her body and then gives to your child.

Don't Mix it Up July 29, 2008, 1:10 PM

Some commenters are bringing up the wetnurse status from slavery times and saying “if it was good enough for them…etc”

Well, it WASN’T good enough for “them”…the poor women treated as animals and yet FORCED to breastfeed another woman’s child!

This wasn’t a choice they wanted or even asked for…it was forced upon them as another task and usually at the detriment of the slave woman’s own child.

I believe breast is best, but so is the bonding that occurs with your child…I personally wouldn’t want to share that and would find other options before letting someone else breastfeed my child.

Josie Chow July 29, 2008, 1:11 PM

I breastfed both my boys the older till 1 yr and the younger one till 2. I loved the experience but I would not be comfortable having some else breastfed my kids nor could I breastfed some else child. I would have no promblem pumping my milk and having them screen it to be used for another child. But having even a friends child at my breast would be werid. It is such a bonding with your child and personnel as well it is your body not a bottle. Thats my feeling.

Rrika July 29, 2008, 2:03 PM

O.K. mommy who clearly did not understand what I was say about how my grandmother and her mother “wet nursed” I know that you may not have liked to hear that word” wet nurse” but me, as an African American Breastfeeding Mother” I am proud of the fact that my grandmothers breastfed. Don’t get so negative always stay positive. I am proud of what they did. Now, I can talk to women about and keep the message going. I am all for it and why not.rrika

Mary Jane July 29, 2008, 2:40 PM

I had to breastfeed my sister’s baby, and I can attest that it did not interfere with any bonding between my sister and her baby. She was hospitalized due to an infection just after getting her baby girl “hooked” on breastmilk. She would not take a bottle and was just 3 weeks old. As soon as her system cleared the antibiotics, she was able to feed her own baby, with no interruption and NO break in any bonding cycle. It is not sick but more natural than any formula product. Not all of us can afford or have access to a donor. As tated earlier, get over your own initial response and remember that it’s about what is best for the BABY!


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