lifestyle

"There's nothing shocking about breast-feeding someone else's child, except our outrage about it."

In fact, it runs in my family.

When my sister and I jokingly offered to breastfeed each other’s babies a few years back, we weren’t really joking.

We had babies within weeks of each other and regularly looked after them while one of us worked. If I became stuck in traffic or she did, it was an option. A last-resort-sort-of-option, but still something we had in our pockets during those first delicate few weeks and months of motherhood.

We didn’t consider ourselves progressive in any way. It just made sense.

Had we shared our intentions with anyone else, I think we would have been in for a rude shock, judging from a debate that is raging today after a mum posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her child, and her friend’s child, at the same time.

720BreatFeedingSomeOneElse'sKid

Jessica Colletti shared this posy on the Mama Bean Unconditional Attachment Facebook page for World Breastfeeding Week, along with the caption:

“My son on the right is 16 months and my friend’s son is 18 months. I watch her son while she works and have been feeding them both for a year! So much love between these milk siblings, it’s a special bond between us all. #MilkSiblings.”

A storm erupted, not over her decision to post a breastfeeding pic, not over her decision to breastfeed older children, but over the fact she was breastfeeding a friend’s baby. She received a lot of support. However some of the worst of the comments can’t be repeated here. They are just too horrible. Some of the less offensive comments included “Weirdo”, “Disgusting” and “So WRONG in so many ways”.

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As the descendant of a wet nurse, I beg to differ.

Click through for a gallery of celebrity breastfeeding photos (post continues after gallery)… 

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My mother’s great-great-great grandmother was a wet nurse. All those years ago in Italy, the babies of wealthier families were breastfed by the mothers of less wealthy families. It was the ‘done thing’ in many parts of the world for many reasons. Now it’s 2015 and we are debating the right of a mum to breastfeed a friend’s child, after gaining the full consent of the friend. We are so backwards when it comes to the issue of breastfeeding.

And we consider ourselves so progressive.

There are so many issues surrounding breastfeeding and all of them leave me feeling completely frustrated.

The ‘breast is best’ pressure.

The public-breastfeeding-shaming.

Opinions on when breastfeeding should finish.

Opinions on whether or not it’s appropriate to breastfeed someone else’s child.

The formula-feeding-shaming.

Yes, some mums these days are formula-feeding-shamed, at least according to the Tweet I received today.

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BreastFeedingSomeoneElse'sKidTweet

The debate raged so hotly and so contentiously that Mama Bean herself, otherwise known as Louise, wrote a blog about it on the Mama Bean Parenting Blog, explaining a few facts she felt we needed to know. She addressed the “I Support Breastfeeding But…” crowd as she calls it and explained that the The World Health Organisation’s “Global Strategy On Infants And Young Child Feeding” states that the best option for babies is to be breastfed by their own mothers, followed by being breastfed by another mother, followed by expressed breast milk served in a sippy cup, all ahead of formula of any kind.

She goes on to say, “For a society that has no issue drinking the milk of another species in their mocha cappuccinos, perhaps it’s time to change our general stance towards human babies drinking human milk.”

The post continues to champion breastfeeding babies as much as possible for as long as possible which is fine by me – it’s her opinion after all – however for those of us who struggled to breastfeed and made the decision to stop, it swings the pendulum a little too far the other way.

I support all mums when it comes to how they choose to feed their babies and can’t help but cringe at all the shaming that goes on and all the unwritten rules surrounding the breastfeeding and bottle feeding of babies. When it comes right down to it, all that matters is that the baby gets fed.

In the words of a wise friend, “As long as the baby gets fed, who cares?”

Would you breastfeed someone else’s child, or let someone else feed yours? 

For more like this:

“I was brainwashed into breast-feeding much longer than I should have.”

Blake Lively’s breastfeeding selfie has captured the paradise ever mother knows.

How about men stop telling women where and when to breastfeed?

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