Wednesday, 25 January 2012
So, there’s a buzz on Facebook right now about donating breastmilk and wet nursing – accompanied by not a little bit of controversy. The donation part is pretty self-explanatory, but what about wet nursing? A perfectly natural concept that has been in practice for hundreds of years is now being looked upon with varying degrees of discomfort from a good chunk of the population. Being a huge bookworm with a particular penchant for historical fiction, I was very clear on the concept of a wet nurse (who in my mind looks a lot like the St. Pauli girl); but, for those who aren’t so clear… a wet nurse is a lactating woman who is hired to nurse/feed another woman’s baby. For whatever reason, the hiring mother can’t (or doesn’t wish to, I suppose) breastfeed her baby but at least is forward thinking enough to want to provide her babe with the good stuff; so she’ll hire a wet nurse. There’s a great article on the evolution and current public opinion of this increasingly popular profession, here, which got me thinking.
Who would put themselves out for this? It stands to reason that the wet nurse will have a nursing babe of her own, and if you’ve ever breastfed an infant, you know how demanding that can be. What would make her decide to take on two nursing babies at once? Aside from a selfless desire to do something awesome for someone else’s baby, there is in fact a rather lovely reason to try to get this particular gig. Momma’s getting paid! These women can make some seriously sweet cash as a wet nurse – upwards of a grand a week (really).
I can see that kind of money drawing the wrong type of person (you don’t have to be clean to lactate!), but thankfully, the companies that recruit and hire quality wet nurses do go through a screening process; I’d hate to find out that the woman with my baby at her breast is struggling with an addiction, you know? Ugh…shudder! There was a time when it was common (and probably still is in some parts of the world) to see women within a community or family sharing the task of nursing their children without blinking an eye; maybe Jane has an abundance of milk but Mary is struggling. Of course Jane would help out Mary! It seems perfectly reasonable and I would do this in a heartbeat for a friend or family member, but I withdraw a little from the mental image of having to deal with explaining to someone why we are passing our babes from breast to breast; I guess I’m not immune to society’s notions after all.
Monetary considerations aside, I’m super tickled to see that this whole breast movement is on the rise – it seriously blows my mind that it even exists. It’s wonderful to see a mother do what is best for her child, and even more fabulous to see another mother share her milky goodness to benefit another’s child. Okay, so I am nursing a baby and I am currently looking for work… hmmm… this totally makes me want to be a wet nurse!! Sure the whole getting paid thing is great, but it totally appeals to the panty burning, flash-mob nurser in me, too!Would you ever consider using a wet nurse, or being one?