real life

I breast-fed my friend's baby and loved it

A breastfeeding mother, Lisa C. Baker, has confessed to Mommyish that she recently "cross-fed" one of her friend's newborn twins and loved it.

"One day when my son was nearly a year old, I left him at home with my husband and went to a party. One of the other women there was a close friend of mine who had given birth to twins just a few weeks before. She had brought her babies with her, and when it was time for them to eat, she handed me the boy so she could nurse the girl. As I gently cradled the newborn, he turned his head to root at my chest. And suddenly it seemed absurd to make him wait for his sister to finish. Because I was right there with my breasts full of milk, and a hungry baby in my arms.

So I asked my friend, “Do you mind if I nurse him?”

“Please do!” she said.

I sat down in the rocking chair across from her and offered him my breast. Within minutes both twins were drifting to sleep, one on her breast and one on mine. His face looked strange at that angle — so different from either of my baby’s. His newborn latch, too, felt different from my son’s. But the way he relaxed against my body, curling his fingers around mine? That was exactly the same."

While "cross-feeding" or "co-feeding" was once common in western society, these days it tends to make women squeamishly recoil.

As Jennifer Baumgardner admits at Babble, she was secretly horrified when a friend excitedly suggested they nurse each other's babies.

“Okay,” I said, immediately.

“They’ll be milk-siblings,” she said excitedly.

“Yeah,” I said. “Wow.”

What I didn’t do was yell, “OMIGOD! THAT IS SO BIZARRE THAT YOU WANT TO DO THAT!” But that was my first internal reaction. Second internal reaction: how am I going to get out of this when I already said okay?

She also "felt deep shame at the thought of telling anyone we had done it. Surely we would be identified as gross and perverted, the parenting equivalent of wife-swappers."

It was a more natual experience for Lisa.

"It’s sweet and supportive and it brings friends closer together. When I imagined it, I pictured my co-mothers and I feeling close as sisters while my children bonded forever with their “milk siblings.” But the reality, I found, is that cross-nursing — like all breastfeeding — isn’t primarily about bonding. It’s not just about connection or love or support. Yes, it can include all those things, and usually does. But its real point is more practical: feeding a hungry baby.

"Contrary to much of the propaganda, the point of breastfeeding isn’t to bond, or to make your kid smarter, or to make him thin and healthy and beautiful. And breastmilk, as wonderful as it is, isn’t magic unicorn rainbow juice that cures everything. No, despite all its benefits, breast milk is really just baby food, and the point of it is to feed a baby. And if your baby needs some and I have extra, why wouldn’t I share?"

Would you consider cross-feeding a friend's baby if it was hungry and you had milk to spare?