Growing up as a young girl I remember my mother telling me how much she loved breastfeeding. She would say how it was her favourite thing about having a baby and would tell me stories about what is was like breastfeeding my sister and I. Yet there was one particular story that left the biggest impact on me.
My mother and her best friend Carla had babies who were nine months apart so they were breastfeeding at the same time. She said if one of them was driving and their baby was crying, the other would breastfeed for them (this was many years ago when seat belts and car seats were not as frequently used as they are now). 😀 I always loved to hear this story but never really imagined breastfeeding someone else’s baby…until I had my own.
Some people might describe wet-nursing as “gross” or “weird”, but many people do not realise that women have been wet-nursing since the beginning of time. Wet nursing has been documented as early as 2000 BC and continued until the 20th century when the feeding bottle was introduced (Stevens, Patrick & Pickler 2009). Many people feel as though it is strange yet do not think twice about giving their baby milk that is made to grow a baby calf. Many people talk about “necessity” as why wet-nursing was common place, and there is no question that in many cases it would have been a necessity for the baby to live. Yet what is hardly mentioned (if at all) in documents, research papers and articles is that wet-nursing someone else’s baby often just feels like the right thing to do. It does not only happen in extreme circumstances. It is not just about “the milk” but is also about the closeness of breastfeeding and the comfort and familiarity it brings to a baby.
Here are my experiences with wet-nursing…