Would you let someone else breastfeed your baby?

I do believe that breast feeding is best; however, I was unable to breastfeed Madame.  This is not the issue I wanted to cover, as it has been done to exhaustion.  The only thing I will say on the matter is that whatever someone decides to do, woman should support each other no matter what.

However, I read a tweet a while back and to be honest it made me very uncomfortable and I want you guys to help me through it.  This is not an opportunity to call me names or say that I’m closed minded.  If I was close minded I wouldn’t be asking the question.  I can’t remember the tweet word for word but it was someone saying how happy they were that their friend, and adoptive mother, was able to breastfeed successfully.  Initially, my mind boggled, so I quickly Googled it and learned that yes, in fact, there are drugs women can take to bring on lactation, fascinating stuff.

I would never want to deny an adoptive mother the opportunity to experience the bond with her child that a birth mother would through breastfeeding.  However, there is something about taking drugs to bring on the process that makes me feel uncomfortable.  I’m sure they’re safe but really can’t get my head around it.  If I think about it a bit more, I drink milk, cows are fed hormones to produce milk which has measurable quantities of herbicides, pesticides, dioxins antibiotics blood, pus, faeces, bacteria and viruses and there is nothing natural about it so what’s my problem?

Then a few days later I read yet another tweet.  It was from a childminder who was looking for a bit of advice.  The woman that she worked for was unable to breastfeed and she was wondering if it would be appropriate if she offered to breast feed her child!  I know she meant well, but I did tell her I would be extremely uncomfortable if someone asked me this. I know back in the day, people had wet nurses and the survival of children relied on other mothers to help out.  But nowadays formulas are very extensive.  As a mother I couldn’t sit and watch someone else feed my child it would break my heart.


Author: mediocremum

A slightly older mum of one, who drinks far too much red wine and has an unhealthy obsession with her slow cooker. During the day she's an ICT Trainer, Social Media/Online Marketing consultant and does a bit of public speaking. Full Profile on Google+

36 thoughts on “Would you let someone else breastfeed your baby?”

  1. Not sure I could have someone else breastfeed my child, it’s such a personal bonding experience.

  2. I’m definitely with you on that one. What others choose to do is totally their choice and I would never pass judgement. But I also could not bear to see another woman breastfeeding my child. I would feel as though I wasn’t good enough. I also struggled to breastfeed my son as I simply didn’t produce enough milk to supply his demand. However, with the aid of formula it was never an issue. I would fear someone else feeding my son would break the close mother/baby bond as the child would be equally attached to their feeder.

    Although I do feel that in the case of adoptive mothers, as long as the drugs taken would not affect the health or mother or child, that I can see a positive argument for this. Every mother deserves the chance to breastfeed their child and to have that close and special bond.

  3. Ooooh controversial to say the least! IMO I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else bf-ing my baby, I wanted to do it myself, exclusively. However, I wouldn’t have been offended by the offer. Quite a few of my friends who are very pro-bfing have said they would be happy to offer to feed a friends baby and for theirs to be fed by someone else rather than have a bottle of formula given. I guess its a highly personal thing and probably has alot to do with your attitude towards breast feeding in general. I also think it probably goes on alot more than we think. As you say, though, surely women should support each other whatever their feeding decisions?

      1. Its funny how hung up we are on the feeding issue though isn’t it? Years ago, before men got involved with it all with their bottles and formulas and feeding routines we wouldn’t have thought twice about giving our babies to someone else to feed! I think there’s too much guilt laid at the feet of mothers in general-rather than judging each other we should try and support each other, whatever we decide to do.

  4. I couldn’t have someone feed my child, for various reasons I was also unable to breastfeed my 3 children, I would be uncomfortable and possibly offended if someone offered to do it for me.

  5. I sat on an electric breast pump 10times every 24 hours so my son had breast milk. It was painful, humiliating and exhausting. My son wasnt able to breastfeed, but I had milk so felt it was my duty to give it to him. That was for 5 months.
    I was so envious of my friends being able to breastfeed or being contented with the bottle. I think it was my issue (I ended up with severe PND) and Im not sure the benefits outweighed to difficulties. We put too much pressure on ourselves tryin to fit into societys’ norms. However I do not think I could have let someone else try to breastfeed him – I just dont think I would have coped with that at all.

  6. If I didn’t live in a country in which there was a safe alternative to breastmilk available, then allowing my child to be breastfed by another person would guarantee its survival and therefore I would be all for that. In the case where I had adopted a child and there was no other primary caregiver, I can again see the benefits of both breastmilk and breastfeeding.

    I’m sure it is totally illogical but while I would be comfortable with my child having expressed milk from a donor, the closeness of the act of physically breastfeeding would make me uncomfortable with that approach. I know when I breastfed my littlest for the short time I did it was so much more than providing nutrition.

    But then this is a relatively recent view, is it not? Wetnurses have been around for ever for various reasons.

  7. I’ve been involved in discussions like this before, I think the bottom line is those who didn’t breast feed themselves cannot conceive the idea whereas mothers who did breastfeed didn’t see a problem with it.

    But as other folk have commented wetnurses have been around since time began.

  8. I’m currently breastfeeding and would happily donate my milk. If a mother asked me to physically feed their child I wouldn’t hesitate (probably because my hormones are so geared towards that right now) and of course why not share out what you have with others that for whatever reason are unable to. However, if I couldn’t BF I’m not sure I would want another mother to BF my child, but if my child was sick/prem etc. and it would be of significantly more benefit to them than formula I’d get over it!

    1. now that is an interesting thing…. for some premature babies donated breastmilk can be a real boost

  9. I think when you feed your own baby, it is a special experience but similarly I think any experience you share with your own baby would feel special because it’s your baby! But that closeness comes from your love and bond – not just the feeding bit, you know? So I would happily breastfeed another persons baby and yes, I think I would be happy for someone else to feed my baby too.

    1. Come to think of it, if there wasn’t the pressure of Breastfeeding, many of us feel guilty if we can’t, then this wouldn’t be an issue. It would be more of a function??

  10. I don’t think I could breast feed somebody elses baby however I would happily provide the milk. My friend had a baby in the special care unit, she had loads of milk to spare and ended up feeding half the babies in the unit. My feeling is that is a really unselfish thing to do. I don’t think she would have gone as far as actually taking the babies to her breast though, I think there is something sacred about breastfeeding your own baby.

  11. Hmm it’s a toughy. I think it would be easier to allow another to breastfeed your child if you were successfully BF him her yourself and if it was just a matter of convenience. I think the (misplaced) guilt and envy would be too much for most otherwise.
    Re. lactation drugs for adoptive mothers – well I think that’s a wonderful developement.

  12. I wouldn’t be comfortable with directly breastfeeding someone elses child or vice versa. I’d happily express and donate my milk to hospitals for prem babies or for mothers who were happy to accept the donated milk. I do think though, you have to be careful how you approach these matters because, as a mum who couldn’t breastfeed her first born, I know that mothers may feel guilty about not being able to BF and the thought of someone else feeding their baby would upset them.

  13. I am the childminder and would like to explain. Not because I am offended, far from it, but because I think it should be talked about more. I didn’t offer because the mum couldn’t breastfeed but because I will be looking after a 7 month old baby for nearly 10 hours a day while his mum goes back to work. As a breastfeeding per supporter I hear o lot of women stressing about getting a baby to take a bottle and how to express and keep the milk at work and whether they should switch to formula. My offer was just to eliminate that stress for the woman who has trusted me to take care of her baby. I am not taking her place, she is still the mummy, but while the baby is with me I will do everything with or for him and if he needs milk (he will be only just starting to wean onto solids) then why not that too. Hope this makes sense.

  14. Forgot to say mum IS successfully breastfeeding, that is why I offered. She would not have any feeding prob if baby was on formula. Just someone else giving the bottle.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and glad you were not offended. I can’t agree more that it is a subject that needs some discussion…

  15. Having failed to breastfeed either of my two, I find it hard enough to watch a mother breastfeeding her own child – it raises huge feels of failure and inadequacy in me. I can only imagine that being 100 times worse if it was my child!

    As others have said, we are lucky that we have a safe alternative.

    I would like to think that if a friend had offered to breastfeed either of my two I would have been able to see it as a loving gesture and turned it down politely. I can’t help thinking though that, given the numbers of pressures there already are about breastfeeding in our society, I would have just seen it as another reminder that I failed at one of the basic jobs a mother can do.

  16. This used to be quite common for more wealthy women to employ a wet nurse- I often thought while bfeeding myself that a wet nurse would be a great idea. Frankly I’m relaxed about it, however people want to feed their child or have someone else do it is fine by me, as long as the child id loved and well looked after.

  17. A friend once told me a story about her french teacher. Her french teacher told *her* a story about how when she was in hospital having her child, she noticed twin girls who were crying their hearts out when she was in the nursery one night (this would have been in the early 70s). Anyway, she picked up the girls and gave them a feed! That’s not the most amazing bit….my friend realised it was HER! She and her twin sister were in the same hospital at the same time. Only twins there.


    But what amazed me the most, was that my friend didn’t seem fussed at all about the fact that someone else has breastfed her. In fact, she thought that may have been the reason why she always felt a strong connection with her teacher.

    Personally, I would *never* want anyone else to breastfeed my child. For goodness sake: formula would be absolutely fine.

    As for the person taking the drugs…I think it’s great that she was able to breastfeed, but I’ll admit I’m suspicious of drugs for the most part, and I’m not sure I’d take the risk considering formula is so readily available. That’s just my opinion!

  18. seems a bit personal to me. I wouldn’t want anyone doing it to my children. x just discovered your blog. JoJo x

  19. When I lived in Canada there was a family who had adopted several children (in canada the adoption process seemed less obstructive) and all the children had additional difficulties. they often knew in advance they would be taking the children on at birth. Two were born addicted to drugs. The (do I have to say adoptive?) mother took the drugs and breastfed the children. Her theory was that she was absolutely giving her children the best possible chance in life, especially as they had been born with so many additional issues.
    Quite a commitment

  20. Oh – I always feel I need to say this – I was a bottle feeding mum….. by choice. The first feed my daughters had was from their dad. I absolutely made the right choice for me – it goes against the prevailing opinion. I would also recommend it! But I know I am not allowed to do that!

  21. I think there are several issues here that don’t necessarily sit in the same place for me

    Nursing an adoptive child is one thing – I’ve read and talked to women about this, how it helps bind the bond between adoptive parent and child, and for me it seems a wonderful thing to do if the mother wants to and can be supported to (and I’ve heard about both drug induced and not lactation happening)

    I am a breastfeeding mother – I wanted to do this for my daughters and was determined that I would do whatever it took despite going back to work early. What this has meant is a LOT of pumping but that both the girls have had breastmilk for at least their first year of life. For my youngest, who couldn’t take formula milk because of her cows milk protein allergy, I did feel incredibly trapped by breastfeeding and there were times I wanted to stop before I was able to.

    Would I have considered using a wet nurse, yes! Would I have been able to find one unlikely. Would I actually have wanted to give up and stop pumping and let someone else step into that relationship, probably not. The one thing that has helped with my relationships with my daughters once I’ve gone back to work has been the breastfeeding relationship

    Which is one of the reasons I pumped for the milk bank – I wanted to give parents the option to give the most vulnerable premature babies breastmilk given that there is research showing that formula feeding premature babies can have longer term impacts.

    Would I consider wet nursing? Given I pump for other people’s children?

    I have been tempted once. Ina May Gaskin wrote about how with a baby that just doesn’t ‘get’ breastfeeding and a exhausted mother she had success with an experienced mother taking the baby to her breast – it bought the mother a respite, it showed the baby what to do and it took the pressure off all sides. I once supported a mother desperate to nurse, with a baby that need nutrition and without any sign of things getting better and yes, I really did think about offering to nurse the baby to give her time to sort things out, to perhaps show the baby what to do. And yes, I very much regret that I didn’t offer but would she have ever considered letting me do it?

    A great post – really thought provoking

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