Thursday, June 1, 2023

Women Who Breastfeed Another’s Baby: Benefits, Friendships, Wet Nurse, and More!

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In this article, we take a look at women who breastfeed another’s baby and what happens to them. Breastfeeding takes time and practice. In fact, it can be one of the most effortless things and also one of the most rewarding experiences of motherhood with practice. While you are in the hospital, you can ask a breastfeeding consultant, the nurse, your child’s doctor, or your OB-GYN for help. When you are discharged and go home, you can take the help of a local lactation consultant or get online consulting. But what if your best friend was also pregnant and lactating? Would you consider her breastfeeding your baby?

Women Who Breastfeed Another’s Baby: Everything You Need To Know

Would you let a friend breastfeed your baby?

The truth is that when maternity leave is ending and the mother has to go to work, many choose to wean and accustom the child to the bottle, preparing it for when she is not present. But they didn’t want to.

For this reason, they are relieved that even if they are not there, there is another breast that can feed their babies. They say that their children feel more secure and comfortable with someone who breastfeeds them since there is no way they will accept the bottle. Plus, of course, the nutritional benefits of breast milk over formula.

This system is not something new, in fact, women who breastfeed another baby were precisely the role of wet nurses before powdered milk was invented. 

Indeed, a wet nurse was a woman who breastfeeds infants who are not her children.

What happened between a wet nurse and the bond with the baby?

Breastfeeding establishes a very strong bond between mother and baby, but what happens when the breastfed baby is not your child?

Mothers tend to be very protective of their babies. Some moms do not even accept that another person picks up their children, imagine to the point of breastfeeding. 

But according to history, a wet nurse was not at all concerned that their children would become too attached to them. 

On the other hand, when two women who are best friends and pregnant at the same time can partake in an agreement such as: on the days of the week that Mother A takes care of Mother B’s children, she can breastfeed in the absence of the mother, and the same happens when Mother B she takes care of Mother A’s children, other days of the week.

Friends would anyway want their children to become too attached to each other, since they both spend a lot of time together and even if they were not breastfeeding their babies, they would still feel attached to each other.

What’s wrong with it? At the end of the day, all parties benefit and do not bother anyone.

Would you breastfeed a friend’s baby?

Some of you may have accepted that someone else could breastfeed your babies. In a case like perhaps in an emergency situation, but have you ever wondered if you would breastfeed a friend’s baby, or your sister’s?

The safety of the milk that the baby drinks is one of the things that is of most concern, due to the risk of transmitting diseases through milk, but since both have been pregnant at the same time, both have been tested for HIV, hepatitis, etc … with negative results and therefore without risk to the child’s health.

In fact a best friend would be more honest about this than anyone else. 

An important thought on women who breastfeed another’s baby:

Once any risk is ruled out, what is wrong with a baby feeding on human milk when the mother is not there? Isn’t that what milk banks do? There, lactating mothers donate their milk (after sanitary control) to feed those babies who, for whatever reason, cannot receive it from their mothers.

What generates more controversy is the fact that another woman feeds another’s child from her own breast. Isn’t it better, and more natural, for a child to drink breast milk than to drink powdered milk or cow’s milk? Breastfeeding is much more than milk as it’s one of the purest forms of early human connection. 

Some beneficial effects of breastfeeding:

Smarter babies. 

Some studies suggest that exclusively breastfed children have slightly higher IQs than formula-fed children.

Fight infections and other conditions. 

Breastfed babies get fewer infections and are hospitalized fewer times than infants fed infant formula. During breastfeeding, antibodies and other factors that fight germs pass from mother to baby and boost the baby’s immune system. This helps reduce the incidence of many infections, such as the following:

  • ear infections
  • the diarrhea
  • respiratory infections
  • meningitis

Breastfeeding also protects babies against:

  • allergies
  • asthma
  • diabetes
  • the obesity
  • sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

It is nutritious and facilitates digestion. 

The components of breast milk: lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat, often referred to as the “perfect food” for the human baby’s digestive system, are easy for a newborn to digest.

Considered as a group, breastfed babies have less difficulty digesting milk than formula-fed babies. Breast milk tends to be digested more easily; therefore, breastfed babies have fewer episodes of diarrhea or constipation.

Breast milk also naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn needs. The only exception is vitamin D; The AAP recommends giving all breastfed babies vitamin D supplements for the first two months of life and until they have enough vitamin D-fortified milk (starting at 1 year).

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the manufacture of infant formula to contain all the necessary nutrients (including vitamin D). However, commercialized milk has not yet succeeded in reproducing the exact composition of human milk. Why? Because milk is a living substance manufactured by each mother for each particular baby, a process that cannot be reproduced or duplicated in a factory.

Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature babies. 

Is free. 

Breast milk doesn’t cost a penny, while the price of formula milk is on the rise. And unless you have to pump milk for your baby, you won’t need to buy expensive bottles, nipples, or other formula milk supplements. Because breastfed babies are less sick than formula-fed babies, this can mean fewer doctor visits, fewer copays, and less need to buy prescription and nonprescription medications.

It has different flavors. 

Nursing mothers usually need 500 extra calories each day to produce breast milk, which means they should eat a wide variety of foods well balanced. This allows breastfed babies to taste different flavors through breast milk, which tastes differently based on what the mother has eaten. Having tried their “culture” foods, breastfed infants will more easily accept solid foods when they are introduced into their diet.

It is always available. Without having to make last-minute runs to the grocery store for formula, breast milk is always fresh and ready to drink, whether you are at home or on the go. And mothers who breastfeed their babies also don’t need to wash bottles and nipples or heat their milk in the middle of the night.

“Skin-to-skin” contact. 

Many mothers enjoy the experience of intimate connection they establish with their babies when they breastfeed. And skin-to-skin contact can help strengthen the emotional bond between mother and child.

It is also beneficial for the mother. 

The ability to fully feed the baby with only breast milk can help a mother gain self-confidence in her ability to care for her little one. Breastfeeding also burns calories and helps the uterus to shrink, so breastfeeding mothers regain their pre-pregnancy figure and lose weight faster. Likewise, studies indicate that breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, and may also help reduce the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Challenges of breastfeeding:

Breastfeeding can be easy and straightforward for some mothers from the start, but it can take some time for other mothers to get used to it.  Among the most common concerns of new mothers, especially during the first weeks or months of breastfeeding, including the following:

Discomfort and inconvenience. 

Pain from latching on to the breast is normal for the first week to day 10, and should last less than a minute with each feed. But if breastfeeding is painful throughout the feeding or your nipples or breasts are sore, it’s a good idea to ask a breastfeeding consultant or doctor for help. Many times it is just a matter of using the proper technique, but sometimes the pain can be due to another reason, such as an infection.

Time spent and frequency of shots.

Breastfeeding requires a considerable amount of time and dedication on the part of the mother, especially in the beginning when babies are fed very often. The timing of feedings or the need to express milk using a pump during the day can create difficulties for mothers who have to work, run errands or travel.

And breastfed babies need to feed more often than formula-fed babies because breast milk is digested faster. This means that the baby may need to breastfeed every two to three hours (maybe more, maybe less) for the first few weeks of life.

The diet. 

Women who breastfeed should be careful what they eat and what they drink, as it can be passed to their babies through breast milk. 

  • During pregnancy, breastfeeding mothers should not eat fish rich in mercury. 
  • If a mother drinks alcohol, a reduced amount of this substance will reach the baby through breast milk. After drinking any alcoholic beverage, you will need to wait at least two hours before feeding your baby. 
  • Caffeine consumption should be limited to no more than 300 milligrams (one to three cups of coffee) or less per day because this substance can cause problems, such as fussiness and irritability, in some babies.

Mother’s medical conditions, medications, and breast surgery. 

Some medical conditions that the mother has, such as HIV infection or AIDS, having to undergo chemotherapy, or taking certain medications make breastfeeding unsafe for the baby. 

If a woman is not sure whether she should breastfeed her baby because she has a certain disorder, she should ask her doctor or a lactation consultant. 

Women should ask their doctors about the safety of taking any medications while breastfeeding, including those available without a prescription, such as preparations containing herbal remedies.

Women who have undergone breast surgery, such as a breast reduction, may have difficulty producing milk if the intervention has damaged the breast ducts. In these situations, the woman should raise her concerns with her doctor and work with a lactation consultant.

Breast milk vs formula breastfeeding:

  • Commercial infant milk is a nutritious alternative to breast milk and even contains some vitamins and nutrients that breastfed babies must obtain through supplements.
  • Therefore, if you decide not to breastfeed your baby, it is important that you give only commercial infant milk rather than trying to make one yourself.
  • Aside from medical reasons that may discourage breastfeeding, some women find breastfeeding their babies too difficult or stressful. 
  • Using formula, either parent (or other caregiver) can bottle feed the baby at any time (although this also applies to mothers expressing breast milk using pumping pumps). This allows the mother to share with her partner the task of feeding the baby, which helps the latter to become more involved in this crucial process and in the formation of the bond that often entails.
  • Flexibility is also a strong point for a formula-feeding mother who can leave her baby with her partner or other caregiver knowing that she will be able to feed her during her absence. You will not need to express milk with a pump or organize your work schedule or other obligations and activities based on your baby’s feedings. You also don’t need to find a covered place when you have to breastfeed your baby in public.
  • Time spent and frequency of shots. Since formula milk is less easily digestible than breast milk, formula-fed babies generally need to feed less often than breastfed babies.
  • Women who choose to breastfeed with formula do not need to worry that what they eat or drink may affect their babies.
  • But It lacks antibodies. None of the antibodies in breast milk are found in formula. Therefore, this type of breastfeeding does not provide the baby with the added protection against infections and other diseases that breast milk provides.
  • It is important to always have the necessary accessories (such as bottles and nipples), making sure they are clean and ready for use. Otherwise, the baby could become very hungry and restless, making it more difficult to calm down. With 8-10 feedings in each 24-hour period, parents can easily feel overwhelmed if they don’t know how to organize themselves well.
  • Formula can be expensive. 
  • Formula-fed babies are more likely to have gas and have harder bowel movements than breastfed babies.

In conclusion, deciding how to feed your baby can be difficult. You will know which option is right for your family when the baby arrives. Many women choose a method before the baby is born but change their mind when the baby is born or after weeks of struggling following birth. And there are many who choose to breastfeed their baby by adding formula milk supplements because they find that it is the best option for their family and lifestyle. In that case, women who breastfeed another’s baby (or a wet nurse) could be a genuinely good option for you to consider. 

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