This Mom Is Getting Slammed for Breastfeeding Her Sister's Baby

This form of family bonding is catching some flack.
ByAnisa Arsenault
Associate Editor
Published
Sep 2016

Family’s almost always there to lend a helping hand—or in this case, a helping boob. While her sister was away, one mom assumed her nephew’s feeding responsibilities. And apparently, that freaked the internet out.

The conflict involves the little-understood practice of cross nursing, also referred to as wet nursing, in which a lactating woman breastfeeds a baby that is not her own. Although it wasn’t this mom’s intention to wet nurse, when her nephew wouldn’t take his bottle, she happily did what she needed to do.

“In some weird chain of events today I ended up breastfeeding my sister’s son while she was away because he would not take the bottle his momma pumped him,” reads a Facebook post shared on the Breastfeeding Mama Talk page. “In return, because my son won’t latch and is strictly fed bottles I pump, my sister was able to feed my son her perfectly good pumped milk. Which made for two very happy and content babies.”

That happy resolution should have been the end of the story. But the post, shared with the intention of inspiring, quickly garnered critical comments. While most of the judgmental comments have been deleted, those that remain sound like this:

“That’s kind of gross.” (Posted by a male, by the way.)

“I hope she washed those boobs first.” (Again, posted by a dude.)

“Too weird. I don’t know about nursing someone else’s child.”

“My sister, fine. Anyone else, no. I would make sure I had extra pumped so it wouldn’t even be an issue.” (Not usually how that works.)

But the rest of the 600 plus comments are full of praise and stories of similar experiences.

“LOVE THIS! I’ve wet nursed my nephew and he’s healthy as can be. I’ve been able to nurse him while my sister is out of the country in the Army!”

“My sister and I did this too! Our sons are eight months apart, now 21 and 20. They think it’s hilarious! They joke about it with us all the time.”

“Wet nursing would make so many breastfeeding mothers’ lives easier. I wish it were more normal.”

Wet nursing is actually an ancient practice, born out of necessity before the development of baby formula. The FDA is currently hesitant to condone it because milk that hasn’t been properly screened, collected or stored can pose health risks to baby, potentially spreading diseases like tuberculosis, HIV and hepatitis-associated antigens. However, milk banks like the Human Milk Banking Association of North America work to safely collect milk for babies unable to nurse from their own mother. And we’ve introduced you to moms who’ve donated impressive quanities of their liquid gold before.

In this scenario, we’re willing to bet the sisters had no qualms about one another’s health. The moral of the story? Two babies who were struggling to eat were fed. That’s what’s important.

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