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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
Joi July 30, 2008, 12:02 AM

I haven’t nursed anyone’s baby but my own (all three), but I would. I did donate my milk for a baby whose mother died in a car accident. She had never had a bottle, much less formula. A lot of women donated. If you are lactating, you are taking the precautions for your own child. And HIV and the likes can not be passed through breast milk. If a woman is aware enough to want their child breastfed and can’t do it, then I am thrilled that they would look for another way to do it. I had some medical issues when I was nursing too and if I could have allowed someone else, that I knew and knew well, to nurse my baby I would have. We are not just talking about a stranger on the street, and yes, we are talking about the health and comfort of our baby. We obviously would consider the health and mental state of the donor!

Hmm August 2, 2008, 11:36 AM

One thing that may not be considered is that the breastmilk from Mother #1 is specifically designed to feed Baby #1, not anyone else. Like fingerprints, every mother’s breastmilk has different concentrations of delicate proteins and fats that “know” what HER baby needs. That being said, if it truly is an emergency situation then something’s better than nothing, but it definitely shouldn’t be relied uponm as depending on a stranger’s breastmilk long-term could potentially be unhealthy for the baby.

Hmm August 2, 2008, 11:39 AM

By the way, Joi, HIV can be passed through breastmilk. Just look at what happened to Elizabeth Glaser and her baby girl Ariel.

Kristin August 2, 2008, 5:44 PM

I believe in breast feeding but wouldn’t do this. For ME, it is just kinda weird. If there is an agreement between the mothers breast feeding, then I don’t see why it would be a big deal to anyone else. The thing that bothers me is when we judge each other without knowing the situation behind our decisions. I am not able to breast feed because of some issues that I have. Formula isn’t bad for babies. It isn’t my first choice just because it isn’t as natural, but it isn’t horrible. My 2nd little girl is now 7 months old and is just as healthy as a baby who has been breast fed the entire time. I just get tired of all the judgement we make against the other persons opinion or lifestyle. We are all different, so why can’t we just respect that and respect the other persons choice of what they feel is right for their life. The fact of the matter is is that we are all just trying to be the best moms we can be.

delilah goodine August 6, 2008, 1:30 PM

No, I don’t agree with my best friend breastfeeding my child. She wasn’t a part of the “making” of my child, so why would i have her breastfeed mine? I would rather pump my breastmilk with a breast pump if I wanted my child to drink breastmilk. That’s like incest to me, because my best friend is like a sister to me. How gross!!!

proud breastfeeding mom August 7, 2008, 12:14 AM

so this is a strange situation,
but my comment is to those who have voiced negative opinions on breastfeeding all together. how can anyone say that breastfeeding is disguisting? apperently they are not parents, or for that matter very good parents. the simple fact of the matter is that breastmilk was made for babies it is the best thing that any able bodied parent can do for their child, why would anyone want to deprive their child of that important start in life. for anyone who has ever nursed a child they can vouch for the fact that your child has an amazing bond with you, and their health is typically better than those who are not. for those who can breastfeed their child and dont that is simply selfishness.

Lori August 7, 2008, 12:07 PM

I’m sorry but I would not be comfortable with that. I also wouldn’t be able to nurse someone else’s child. Nursing is an intimate bonding experience between you and your child.

rox May 20, 2009, 9:38 AM

I see nothing wrong with it… especially if the “wetnurse” be it a friend, nanny, family member gets blood tests done to confirm no infectious diseases…

no problem October 14, 2009, 8:48 PM

I am currently breastfeeding and would definitely feed a friends baby if she asked me to. I, however, don’t know how I’d feel if someone else fed my child. I guess I’m 50/50 on this.

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