Wet-nursing's controversial past and the current informal underground practice

Wednesday, June 8, 2022
author picture Gerald Girard
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Breast Milk Wet Nurses

Historically, wet nurses are women who provide breastfeeding assistance to newborns not their own. They were in high demand in 1000 C.E. Europe. They took care of babies left orphaned by their mothers and other infants who needed to be nursed after the mother had died. Many worked in hospitals for foundlings, where poor women were expected to continue work even after childbirth.

Despite the fact that wet nursing is becoming less popular today, it is an important profession. However, informal practices are still very much alive. (Getty Images) Many families are looking for solutions to the U.S. milk shortage and they're all in desperate need of breastmilk. Stories of local women volunteering There are many websites offering wet nursing services. It turns out it is. Despite the fact that wet nursing is becoming less popular today due to the availability of formula and breastmilk banks, many still believe wet-nursing may be alive. This is why it's not often discussed.

Wet-nursing and the United States: The controversial past

The birth mother is surrounded by her new children and the wet nurse, who holds the newborn baby. (Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images There are two major avenues for wet nursing in America: The first is the practice of wet nursing, which has been subject to abuse over the years and is linked by monetary exchange. In the case of the Antebellum South, it's the. Exploitation of Enslaved Black Women White babies were made to breastfeed their white children. Another form of wet nursing is informal. It's done between friends, family and other equals with no power imbalances. Cross-feeding and cross-nursing Technically, both are wet-nursing. This is when one breastfeeds a child other than the biological baby. However, these practices are still controversial, even though they have a more casual form. Wet-nursing has a problem because it is a historically exploitative practice. Jacqueline Wolf Yahoo Life was told by a Professor in Ohio University's Department of Social Medicine. Wolf's research is focused on the history and practice of breastfeeding in America. She explains how the U.S. early practice of hiring wet nursers was determined by class, and adapted from English tradition. Wealthier women were thought to be weaker in the 19th century. It was therefore not appropriate for them to breastfeed excessively, which led to poorer women from rural areas being hired to perform the task. Wolf claims that it was a job born out of necessity for those women who were employed. She says that wet-nursing was a desperate occupation for women. These were almost all single women, often widowed or homeless women. Rich families could find a nurse through help-wanted advertisements in the newspaper or their doctor. Wolf claims that the savage language in these advertisements shows how badly wet nurses were treated by employers. Many employers described them as immoral and a burden to families who shelter them. Wolf claims that doctors spoke even more harshly about wet nurses than Wolf. Wolf said that one doctor described wet nurses in a quote as "three quarters cow, and one quarter devil." Most wet nurses had to give up their baby once they became employed. They might not see him or her again. Wolf explained that it was not common for an upper-class or middle-class family to allow a nurse to take their baby to the home. The wet nurses were forced to surrender their babies to the care of foundling families, which had a horrendous death rate. Nearly 100 percent. The wet nurse could literally save the life of an ill baby, even if it meant that her child would die. Wolf insists that not all wet-nursing practices were evil in their early days. Shared nursing is common because breastmilk was the only option, especially when the mother dies in childbirth or while still breastfeeding. Wolf says that in those days, children who didn't have human milk could die if they couldn't get it. Many women would breastfeed a newborn baby who had lost their mother, whether it was a close friend, relative, or neighbor.

Today, wet-nursing is an underground and informal practice

Federal pure food laws were passed. Pasteurization, breast-milk banks, and availability of alternative formulas made it less common for wet nurses to post job openings. In 2007, the Today show reported One Los Angeles staffing agency reported on an increase in wet nurse requests, starting at $1,000 per week. According to Comparably, which shows market compensation as contributed from real employees -- wet nursing in the U.S. pays an average of $1000 per week average salary of $57,123. But despite the Sometimes, an online advertisement offers to be a wet-nurse You're likely to be able to meet people if you are looking for a nurse or a wet nursing service. Selling or donating Bags of breastmilk expressed to be given to parents. However, the informal method may prove to be much more common than you think. Informal wet-nursing is something that happens all the time, I believe. Wolf tells Yahoo Life that he doesn't believe we speak about it. La Leche League International (LLLI), says it on their website website Cross-nursing is a more family-oriented form of wet-nursing. This can be done between sisters, aunts or grandparents. They share the responsibility for breastfeeding their babies. LLLI says that people practice this informal, often incongruous activity in many countries around the globe for a range of reasons. It may be done to stimulate milk production or in a babysitting arrangement, as well as as to show friendship. In fact, a 2016 Netmums poll Over 2,000 parents were asked if they breastfed their baby. Samantha Gadsden is shown with her daughter and son in 2011. She says that she wet-nursed eight babies, while breastfeeding her children. Yahoo Life tells her that she believes there is more to it than most people realize. (Courtesy Samantha Gadsden Samantha Gadsden, a Doulas based in South Wales in the U.K.Yahoo Life's Judith tells Yahoo Life that she has wet-nursed eight babies in the period 2012-2018, while still breastfeeding her children. Gadsden does not believe that her circumstances are unique. She just believes informal wet-nursing can be quite common. Gadsden claims that any wet nursing she performed was independent of her role as a doula. She has not been paid for her wet nursing work and the majority of babies she nursed were those of her friends. Gadsden says that women should be paid for this work. It is a time-consuming task, so if someone wants to pay another person to feed their children, I see no problem. Gadsden also insists on the fact that mothers came to her every time and requested her to nurse a baby. She never gave permission to do this. Gadsden claims that she once nursed an infant friend in an emergency. Gadsden also said that friends often asked her to watch their child so they could go out and have fun. She would even nurse them if the baby refused to take a bottle. Gadsden admits that I believe there is a lot more to it than most people realize. There are probably many friends and families out there that women share their babies with. Although Gadsden was familiar with most of the infants she wet-nursed for her, there was an occasion where she assisted a stranger. Gadsden said that the mother posted an emergency to a group on Facebook I was part of. Her twins were out of milk and she was now in hospital. Her twins were in hospital and they needed donor milk. She didn't live far away from me so I went to their room and gave them milk. The World Health Organization also includes wet-nursing. Guidance For the treatment of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. The WHO website states that if there are no real chances of breastfeeding a baby who is severely malnourished, then the family might need to get breast milk from another mother, such as a relative, neighbor, or nurse. Actress made headlines during a UNICEF goodwill mission to Sierra Leone in 2009. When she gave birth to a local child who was hungry. This country is home to an exceptionally high infant mortality rate, which may be partly due to malnutrition. Hayek said that she was breastfeeding her daughter in order reduce the stigma surrounding breastfeeding. Do I feel disrespectful to my child by giving away her milk? Hayek, I think that my baby would be proud to drink her milk. told Nightline at the time. Gadsden claims that she once helped a friend with breastfeeding when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Gadsden claims that she shared the wet-nursing duties with other mothers for six to seven months so their friend could breastfeed. Gadsden said that it was crucial for her to continue the friendship. There are also more tragic situations than there is wet-nursing.

Wet-nursing and surrogacy

Wolf described a centuries-old communal method of neighbors and friends joining forces to care for a baby. Surrogacy is a modern option whereby a woman may wet-nurse her baby. Tabitha Lynn Trotter is a labor- and postpartum therapist doula based in San Diego Yahoo Life reports that she had eight surrogate children between 1993-2006. She breastfed them all for the least one month. Trotter claims she wasn't paid for being a surrogate but she said she never received any compensation for breast milk. She is happy about that. It doesn't bother me at all that I was not compensated. Trotter states that I wasn't in this to make money. My view was that if [the biological parents] can give the milk, this marriage is complete. Trotter was also a mother to children, and had a large family. So any live-in arrangement with the surrogate child was impossible. She would instead visit her parents regularly, and she would give them a mix of breastfeeding and express milk so they could bottle-feed the baby once she was gone. She says that I used to feed the baby while I was there and leave the milk for nighttime or rest of the day. Trotter said that many times we met in a central parking lot. The baby would be nursed by me, then I would drive the 20-30 minutes to get her milk. We would then go on our own. The baby might be brought to her sometimes, she says. The baby would be brought by mom, who then took a break to take a rest or go for a walk. Trotter also managed a San Diego surrogacy program at the time. Over 200 babies were delivered in this program, and most surrogates expressed interest in breastfeeding or expressing breastmilk for their babies after they were born. Trotter states that the surrogate would be willing to supply milk for three or six months. Although I don't know if the contracts are still in place, the vast majority of surrogates agreed to breastfeed. Trotter provided breastmilk to all who requested it. I also had a freezer that contained breast milk. Trotter wet-nursed friends informally, for example on an anniversary night when a friend was celebrating with her husband or to allow moms to enjoy some drinks at a bar. Trotter shared the responsibility of nursing a friend's child for several months on one occasion. The friend stayed three months with me and I asked her every time that the baby was crying, "Do you want her to feed her or me?" Many times, she would then pass the baby over to me so she could nurse the other one, Trotter said.

The stigma around wet-nursing

Breast milk should not be obtained from an individual or via the Internet. (Getty Images) The FDA advises that babies not be fed breastmilk obtained directly from people or via the internet. Risks When it comes to cross-feeding and informal wet-nursing. breast milk can transmit infectious diseases like HIV, along with other drugs such as alcohol, marijuana and any medication that the mother may be on. Individuals are not affected. Milk banks test for various diseases Along with bacteria, HIV/hepatitis B/C and hepatitis C are included. Human milk can be obtained from people directly or via the internet. The FDA does not consider it to be adequately screened for infection or risk. Website states. It is unlikely that human milk was collected, processed or tested in such a manner as to reduce safety hazards for the baby. Trotter believes that there's a lot of trust involved in allowing another person to care for your baby. Trotter believes that there is a double standard in wet-nursing or donating express milk. She says this because no one sees breast milk at the milk banks. All this milk is found in a freezer. Trotter laughs that it just happened overnight. She shared that she enjoys stories in which women donate 90 gallons of milk to hospitals or milk banks. She says that those are great stories, and she has nothing to criticize them. It should also be praised for people who help directly. Gadsden believes that the cultural stigma surrounding breastfeeding may be partly responsible for stigmatizing cross-feeding or wet-nursing. Gadsden states that breastfeeding is natural and can be done by anyone. If we did more of this, she suggests that wet-nursing would be more popular so moms and babies feel supported, rather than isolated.

A wet nurse mother donates 600 gallons breast milk

Miracle mum donated 600 Gallons of breastmilk for hundreds of parents to feed their children. Elisabeth Anderson Sierra, 29 years old, is selfless and dedicates 10 hours per day to her labor of love. She says that it's almost like a job. Hyperlactation Syndrome is a condition that causes the mother-of-two to pump around 225oz (1.75gallons), of breastmilk per day. This is almost 10 times what she averages at 27oz. Sophia, her six-month old daughter, consumes only 20 ounces of breastmilk per day. The rest goes to the local moms, gay couples, and milk banks for premature babies. Get lifestyle and wellness information delivered straight to your inbox Register here Yahoo Life’s newsletter .