I am always astounded by how backward we have become as a society when it comes to parenting and in particular parenting practices like breastfeeding. We seem to view debates about them through an outraged, conservative prism of judgement, completely forgetting to apply logic to resulting debates. We talk organic this and organic that. Newflash peeps: There’s nothing more organic than breastmilk, regardless of which breast it has come from.
If it’s a “family breast”, even better. But not according to some self-designated judges of all things parenting who have taken precious minutes out of their very important schedules to comment on a U.S. mum who posted a photo on Facebook page Breastfeeding Mama Talk showing her breastfeeding her nephew.
The mum shared a story about how she ended up breastfeeding her sister's son because her sister was away and wouldn't take his bottle.
She wrote, "In some weird chain of events today I ended up breast feeding my sisters son while she was away, because he would not take the bottle his momma pumped him. 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. #bonding #familyiseverything #breastmilkforthewin"
So not only did she make the logical decision to feed her nephew instead of leaving him hungry, she ensured her son was also fed from the bottle of breastmilk her sister had originally left for her own child.
What on earth is wrong with that? Lots, according to some.
Heebie: Trash bag
David: That's kinda gross...
Joe: I hope she washed those titties first
Sisterhood UNITE THE MOTHERHOOD! Article continues after this video.
These comments are just stupid and it's no coincident that they were posted by blokes. Call me sexist but they don't have breasts and they've never breastfed. They don't get it.
Not that I am making excuses for them.
Majority of the more detailed negative comments have been removed, after admin on the Facebook page got sick of the criticism being directed at the sisters.
They ended up stepping in and saying, " I'm not sure where on the post opinions were asked for. Wet nursing is supported and encouraged here just like any other form of breastfeeding... I will be doing a live video on wet nursing soon. Let me know if there is anything you'd like me to bring up during the video!!"
The fact a debate like this erupted on a Facebook page called Breastfeeding Mama Talk is what is the most shocking part of all of this. It was other mothers who had the most to say about these sisters who were comfortable enough to ensure each other's baby was fed.
"Fed is best" is what we have all learned as a result of the unnecessarily huge breast vs bottle debate that ended up dividing mums for years. Now we know better. We know that it's most important for a baby to get fed, regardless of whether that food came from a tin of formula, a breast or a bottle.
Now we need to open our minds even further and understand that the concept of wet-nursing is nothing new and it's incredibly sad that the practice fell out of favour.
Whenever I am trying to come to a decision about debates like this I like to apply logic to it and the logic of this particular situation was clear: Two babies were hungry and so decisions were made to ensure the two babies were fed.
I almost lost my daughter one horrible day when I made the stupid decision leave her with formula in case the bottles of expressed breastmilk I had pumped ran out, never having given her formula before. She was highly allergic and vomited up every single drop. My mum, who didn't know what to do and made a few bad decisions of her own due to panic - handed her to me when I arrived to pick her up and I will never forget how floppy and limp she was.
My beautiful six-week-old daughter could barely muster enough energy to smile at me, let alone latch on to my breast for a much-needed feed.
I remember my sister saying to my mum, "Why didn't you call me? I would have fed her?" And that day my sister and I made a pact. We'd both had babies at around the same time and were both breastfeeding. We agreed to feed each other's children if it were ever needed.
We also talked about how sad it was that we couldn't donate our breastmilk to other babies, with both of us having an ample supply. There were no breastmilk banks in NSW and I briefly flirted with the idea of sending mine to a bank I found in QLD.
So many mums comment that they just weren't comfortable with the idea of their children being fed by another mum and they are fully entitled to their opinions. Some ruled it out all together - although generations ago before forumla existed they wouldn't have had a choice - and others say they are happy to use expressed breastmilk from another mother but they'd never be okay with their babies being fed from another mother's breast.
In some countries mums still don't have a choice and wet-nursing is common, and a blessing. A complete life-saver.
My ancestors were wet-nurses, feeding the babies of rich families who didn't want to breastfeed themselves. Not ideal, I know, but wouldn't you think we'd have made more progress when it comes to how we feed our babies?
Wouldn't you have hoped we'd apply more logic to such issues instead of baseless, knee-jerk reactions?
The good that has come out of this is of course, the opportunity to talk about it again and it's been so lovely to read the comments and conversations that have been taking place on the page where mums who are siblings and friends have agreed to feed each other's babies if ever needed.
I'd really like everyone who still baulks at the idea of wet-nursing to apply reason and logic to their feelings, particularly those who went so far as to openly criticise mums who choose to do it. The "ick" factor isn't enough. It's a reaction born of luxury that comes from living in a country where mums have multiple options when it comes to how to feed their kids.
We are so lucky to be able to parent together and help each other and discuss issues we are having. From this I hope more women consider opening themselves up to the practice of wet-nursing or at the very least, finally see the opening of breast milk banks around the country.