Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nursing the Babies - In the event of "what if"

If I had posted this a few weeks ago like I was supposed to, I would be posting a slightly different story, but as you can see from Christa's last post...things have changed. Initially we thought Christa would be giving birth last, not first, so she was going to be the recipient of a lot of "trickle down" cross nursing support. As it turns out, She's going to be filling the gap for us! Mother Hen has stated, she has a large fibroid tumor on her uterus that may or may not cause problems following her latest baby's birth. There's no way to know until the baby is born if the fibroid is going to cause heavy bleeding. If it does and the medical team is unable to control the bleeding through the use of medications and fundal massage, she will have to have surgery to remove "fiby" and control the bleeding. In this case Mother Hen's little Chicklet will need some breastmilk to get by on until she's off her meds and can nurse safely. Initially she had arranged for a friend's milk to be available, she has several 1oz bags of breastmilk in her freezer. Unfortunately this milk is intended for an 8 month old baby, and as we know breastmilk composition changes with the baby's age and of those really awesome things nature built into our really awesome bodies. So really, this was never ideal, but filled a potential need. Well, as we know, Christa had to go and have a preemie (29 weeks) and is now lactating like a crazy woman. She estimates on the order of about 30oz a day and sweet baby ella barely gets any right now as her feedings are largely contingent on her health and medications right now. So now, if Mother Hen needs it, she has fresh pumped NEWBORN breastmilk just down the road!

If you remember from my nursing story with Aiden, it started with much fuss after he puked up all the mucous lining in his tiny tummy and left him feeling hugely starving and unsatisfied with colostrum. We had to supplement with formula using an SNS system a couple times a day for the first couple days. Well, initially Mother Hen was going to either pump a little for me in case Chase needed it OR just directly nurse him for me so he won't have to have formula. This was always something we were unsure of because Mother Hen seems to make just enough milk for HER baby and never had a great deal of success with pumping. Well, again, Christa to the rescue, with her huge and growing store of breastmilk, she's going to set aside a little milk in case I need it for Chase or directly nurse him.

So what does Christa get? Well, Christa is in a funny spot, her milk supply is good right now, pumping is going well, but it's likely it could be as much as two more months before her baby is home, and she spends limited time skin to skin with Ella because of her health. Evidence has shown that sometimes pumping alone is not enough stimulation for the breasts to keep supply up to adequate levels. So Christa will have access to Chase and to the Chicklet for direct nursing if her supply starts to dip and she needs a boost to keep things going.

There is a great deal of controversy around arrangements like many ways this constitutes wet-nursing. Many people think it's wrong, or unhygeinic, or gross, or or nurse another mother's baby. People often ask "well what if the mother isn't healthy," "what if baby has thrush," "what if mom is on meds," and so forth? This is a concern with donor milk as well as direct wet-nursing. However we are all familiar with eachother's lifestyles and trust one none of this is an issue. Breastfeeding isn't a sexual act, simply an act of nurturing, so there is nothing obscene or wrong about nursing another baby who needs to be nursed. With the three of us, soon ALL to be lactating (albeit out of order... ) we have our bases covered to provide the best for our babies' health and wellness.

So what do YOU think about wet-nursing and sharing breastmilk with other mothers? Would you nurse another woman's baby if it was needed? Would you take donated milk from a friend if you needed it? what about a stranger? Would you let another woman nurse your baby if you were in a situation where you could not? Please, share your thoughts and experiences!


  1. I think you three just made me cry, that;s what I think!!! I think you three are wonderful friends with a special bond and relationship that I envy!!What you three are willing to do for each other is an amazing gift! I say go for it, enjoy and nurse those babies:)

  2. I think it is super wonderful. It is a caring, loving and smart thing to do and plan on doing. Keep up the letdowns lol. Go for it. Wish you all sucess

  3. When my son was a new born, I had a freezer full of my best friend's breast milk just in case something happened and I couldn't nurse my son myself. We successfully navigated the first year without issue, so that milk went to our local milk bank before it expired.

    Now, my best friend is expecting her third baby and I will have a back up supply for her as well.

    I would happily nurse any baby who needed it and would give breast milk from a trusted source over formula. It would be difficult to see another woman nurse my baby, but not out of a sense of obsenity or impropriety, but because nursing my son is a ritual that I cherish, enjoy, and feel is almost sacred in my journey of womanhood. To turn that over to another would take much soul searching and prayer.