Catherine Connors (pictured here) is a regular mamma who writes a personal blog commenting on her life and journey into motherhood. She has recently come under fire for nursing another mother’s baby in public. At a recent parenting conference, Catherine met another mother, Laura, and her 11 month old baby. Catherine had forgotten to bring her breast pump and was unable to hand express milk and was getting engorged. After chatting to Laura during the day, she explained her predicament. Laura said that her baby was hungry and suggested that Catherine nurse her daughter to relieve her discomfort. Catherine confirmed that she she had not injested anything to compromise her breastmilk. She loving breastfed Laura’s baby and relieved her engorgement. It was a beautiful thing to do and comforted Laura’s hungry baby. Unfortunately there has been an angry backlash at her actions by another mother at the conference who was upset by her cross nursing.
Cross nursing is defined by Le Leche League as ”the occasional nursing of another’s infant while the mother continues to nurse her own child.” Some of you may have heard of this before. I came across it in my super crunchy mom’s group in Berkeley, California. There was a gay mom nursing two babies, hers and her partners, as she was the primary caregiver. With our modern day concept of families this seemed totally normal to me.
As far back as ancient times breastfeeding a baby other than your own was common place and many people used wet nurses. Le Leche League defines wet nursing as “the complete nursing of another’s infant, often for pay”. Before the days of formula this was life saving in many cases where the mother didn’t make enough milk. It didn’t raise any eyebrows and certainly didn’t involve heated online debates. Wet nurses lost favor especially after the introduction of formula but are making a comeback. Robert Feinstock owns a Los Angeles based agency that provides wet nurses across America. He says the demand has been steadily rising over the last few years despite the cost of at least $1000 per week (far more than a regular nanny makes). If you choose to give your baby breast milk in any form other than from yourself it is important to screen for tuberculosis, syphilis, hepatitis-associated antigen, cytomegalovirus, herpes virus, HIV and other infectious agents.
I recently had a friend offer to breastfeed my son as a photo opportunity of this site but I declined. I have no problem with other mothers doing it if everyone involved is happy. Breastfeeding my son is something really special that just he and I do and I wasn’t ready to share that with anyone else. I think it is a personal choice for everyone how they choose to get breast milk to their babies. I think the exchange between Catherine, Laura and her baby was really beautiful. What do you have to say about it?