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Weaning After A Really Long While

I know this sounds trite, but it’s time to wean when you want to…

Madison and Leilani Still at it at 9 months!

The tricky part is how!

https://www.llli.org/breastfeeding-info/weaning-i-want-t

If you have successfully sustained the womanly art of nursing your little one for at least 365 days or more; no one need remind you that how you transition to another way of loving and nurturing yourself is as unique a path as you could imagine.

If you were under the false impression that weaning was simply the transition to solid food, how wrong you would be.  This blog came about as a space for testimony for women to speak about the maternal experience of breastfeeding for an extended period of time.

  The longer a woman nurses, the less we tend to talk about it. Partly because we lack words and partly because once again it’s both intimate and private and we risk with our disclosure a harsh critique of extended nursing as selfish and not in the best interests of the child.

It is very very helpful to have someone to talk to about these things. Ideally a nursing mother; but clarifying why you no longer wish to nurse is a different conversation than how to gradually do it with love. Mother’s who have nursed in isolation particularly struggle with grief, loss and guilt when they often times have only had their little one to support and understand the importance and connection of the mother-baby couple.

Child-led weaning is a great concept.  Proponents advocate for allowing the little one to ease of the tit when we ask if the little one is ready leaves decision-making up the shortest person in the room without considering the needs or demands being placed on the mother.  While nursing is one aspect of parenting and child caregiving, for some of us, nursing made our lives easier, joyful and peaceful and leaving that part out increased the drudgery and lessened the joy.  Having a partner in child rearing, and care giving means a shared responsibility.

Often times, sitting in a still place, weaning is not so much a “choice” as a decision that is determined by the circumstances surrounding the separation of human mothers and babies. Raising animals for food and pleasure reflects cultural beliefs about making it easier to care for animals if they are separated 

from their attachment to their mothers. What does it do to their mothers?

Politically and socially, we separate mothers and fathers from their children to punish them for seeking freedom. How do mothers stay physically close to their babies without distancing yet not nurse the way they did in the past.  This is not just a question of graduating to alternate ways of sucking and nutrition.

 How do we experience letting go, and setting limits when the time is right and in the best interest of meeting the shared needs of mother and child. Saying no when someone cries for us, or when we are spent and fatigued beyond our limits.  Unavailable to our child because we are not present and whole within ourselves.

Attachment with love and interdependence is thought to be something that you get over.    Outgrowing the need for nursing, how does that look in your world?

https://www.llli.org/weaning-gently-outgrowing-the-need/

Have you heard some of these absolutes before… I am sure you could make your own list. What now?

If they (the baby) (fill in the blank).

  1. has teeth
  2. will take a bottle
  3. cries when the mother leaves
  4. eating solid food
  5. has a sippy cup
  6. is potty trained
  7. can talk
  8. can walk
  9. can sit up
  10. can hold their own bottle
  11. has a dad 
  12. has a sibling who didn’t nurse
  13. is spoiled

there is no need to continue nursing.

If the baby’s mother (fill in the blank). 

1. has to go back to work

2. has a fever

3. taking medication

4. has to go back to school

5. isn’t married

6. using drugs

7. is an alcoholic

8. is mentally or emotionally unstable

9. has other children

10. is nursing another baby

11. enjoying nursing

there is no need to continue nursing

if you don’t want to….

Consider gently with love…..

TODAY is MY DAUGHTER’s 40th Birthday

See her there, gorgeous mound of amber Joy pretending to cheez for the camera. She is about 15 months old. My dad took this photo just past the 365 day mark. This is a lovely Sunday December near Christmas Gathering. We are nowhere near weaning. I am getting some good natured teasing from folks, I am smiling, she is ignoring them. Weighing in about 36 pounds, my Nana is whispering in my ear to ignore them reminding me she is strong and healthy for a girl and I look happy and well. “You will know when it’s time” I find it’s so interesting today that both my grandmothers who had a chance to nurse their babies well past a year gave me almost verbatim the same advice. “just sit down and nurse that baby and you will both feel better”

My daughter is wondering why I wore that stupid midi dress, turtleneck no less which provides no access to titties. I was trying to look grown up as if we no longer nursed at a moment’s notice. She more practical still than I wonder how long does she need to be polite and wait and eat finger foods olives, cheese, crackers, codfish cakes, deviled eggs.

See her reaching over pulling the fake pearls, not distracted a bit from what she knows will be our quiet time when we are done with these family folk. I just found this picture. The only one I have with me and my Nana. She lived a few years more and died my first day of midwifery school, passing the torch as it were. I now can see the power of Elder blessings!

I have been uncharacteristically teary today. I just finished the last payment on the headstone for my mom. She’s been dead now since 2009. The cemetery couldn’t find the account number or paper working barely the grave site if not for my daughter. The cemetery changed hands or pandemic stuff; records not digitized whatever? My daughter is the only one that visits the grave site and I think it is a fitting present that today on her 40th birthday, we remember my mother properly with so much gratitude. The gravestone goes to production, no more debt. We are so free to love and remember.

Violette Duckett Strachan April 27, 1927- January 9, 2009

Legacy is love. Inheritance is joy, and hope and promise.

Happy Birthday my beautiful Daughter. You are my Joy! I love you so!

Wise Woman Ways

One day your time of fertility, and nursing a little one will go away. One year, one full cycle of 365 days after the birth will seem to be such a short time. Hours, minutes, days are all relative. It is such mystery that we have a time to menstruate, we bleed and for the remainder of nearly half our lives we cease to be able to reproduce and we have menopause; the bleeding stops.

During lactation, and then again as we approach menopause, we have extraordinary powers and are extremely sensitive to the ways in which we interact with the world. When our flow changes, when we nurse our babies as we prepare to let them go from relying on our bodies: we heal ourselves, we heal each other and we heal our planet.

One of my favorite authors and teachers is Susun S. Weed. She has written several books on healing and most recently I have re-read Wise Woman Ways: The Menopausal Years. As I remember vividly the time of nursing my children, I don’t think I thought of the days of how it would feel for me or that the cycles I experience as a woman (Some ONE with a womb) would change across my lifetime in a predictable pattern. We are all unique, but we share many things in common.

Susun describes and expands on a concept she calls the six steps of healing. She reminds us that we have ancestors and grandmothers who have been through this before and that we can listen, tell our own stories and also rely on them to teach us and guide us whenever we are ready. It is the role of the elder. It speaks to wise woman ways. As you grow and nurse your little one , you are becoming a wise woman.

She describes an archetypal character called Grandmother Growth. She advises us to:

“Let Grandmother Growth help. She knows the ways of woman’s mysteries. She lives the ways of the wise woman, healing and wholing person and planet. She offers stories about Change, new ways to understand the menopausal years, and new visions of old woman, She-Who-Holds-the Wise-Blood-Inside. “Shall we begin?”

Step 0. Do Nothing

Step 1 Collect Information

Step 2 Engage the Energy

Step 3. Nourish and Tonify

Step 4. Stimulate/ Sedate

Step 5a Use supplements

Step 5b Use drugs

Step 6 Break and Enter

Most of what we share and promote here in this breastfeeding365 blog centers around the healing that takes place during steps 0-3. For many of us, in our contemporary society we have never done anything even remotely like this. We have never been allowed to make the time.

STEP 0. .. Do nothing …sleep, meditate, unplug the clock or the cellphone, a vital INVISIBLE step

STEP 1 …Collect Information …low tech diagnosis, reference books, support groups, divination

STEP 2…Engage the energy…prayer, homeopathic remedies, crying, visualizations, ritual, aromatherapy, color, laughter

Where are you on your healing journey? Are you nursing a little one right now? Are you supporting and helping someone as they make this change in the way they are living their lives. Tell us your story! We are listening! And so is Grandmother Growth!

References

http://www.susunweed.com

Freedom To Succeed #3

“What do mothers need?
 
The Keys for Success
 
• Love
• Knowing What You Have
Freedom
• Mother-Baby Couple
• Healing”

True freedom comes from having boundaries and feeling free to take action on your own behalf to do things that benefit you. Doing for others doesn’t mean doing things at your expense in the name of someone else.

When what you are doing for your child is killing you, things are out of balance and something is wrong. When you rationalize what you are doing is for your baby and it’s hurting you that is even more wrong.

You can’t be guilt-tripped into nursing your baby. It’s not something you do for show or to impress others. It must be what you want for yourself. You don’t spoil a child by breastfeeding. You spoil a child when you allow anyone including your baby to take what responsibilities rightfully belong only to you.

My mother always used to tell a story about what her mother Lois told her about giving to your children. ““Always leave something back for yourself. You will ruin them if you don’t and they won’t know how to learn to live in this world.””

My mother’s stories were always told repeatedly and were usually enhanced by being told late a night after just a wee bit of scotch.

It would always start with this opening . . .  “Now let me tell you something, you have to remember . . .” If I knew know how precious those words of wisdom would be I would have taken notes.

She would say:

““Now what’s wrong with this picture? The baby has everything, you have nothing. The baby needs everything, and you need nothing[… Child what is wrong with you, there are no flies on you . . .  You are the mother, nobody will love that baby but you like you do . . .  but you teach them . . . . Like this. And the she would motion to her hands to show me imaginary money and dollar bills . . .  as if she was counting the national treasury out.

One for you, two for me

Three for you, five for me

Six for you, ten for me

When reminded of this story of my mother by Suji who she also lectured on this point many times when she thought we were spoiling the children and allowing them to take advantage. I was struck with how often I heard so many mothers say . . .

Now that I have this child, life as I know it is over. The baby’s needs are more important than mine. If we truly believe this, how could being a mother possibly be pleasurable?

“No wonder we are taught to hate and pity teen mothers and unplanned pregnancies, and single moms. Have you assumed, or allowed someone to influence you to feel that having a baby is in conflict with what you really want to do. You are taught to delay childbearing and childrearing because you believe that having a child causes a conflict in your life. Every aspect of your life, your career, your lover, your marriage, your friends, your home and your lifestyle, your ability to make money and care for yourself are ALL in conflict with having YOUR baby. Really?”

All other things or important relationships are perceived as competition for your inner desire and calling to mother. We are not always taught to think about the ways in which we powerfully create a new life in partnership with others.

How do we learn to integrate mothering with who we are as women? Who will join us and sustain us during this journey? Who will love us while we learn to love another part of ourselves that we must one-day release to the world?

We often feel we are free to make decisions and to have choices, but how often are we influenced by people around us, the media, expectations we have of ourselves and others have of us.

If you watch television, read magazines, and live in the world, you are affected by what you see, hear, and feel. I will give you a great example of how what we really need as mothers and what we think we need to function as a good mother can be two very different things if we are not very careful.

“HGTV is my favorite network. I actually pay extra for pay TV and could watch it endlessly. In fact, watching TV was my main barrier to completing the work on this book. I dream about my dream house, decorating, remodeling, square footage, what stove or fridge I want. Hunting for houses with open floor plans, checking for double vanities. Browsing real estate websites, it is positively hypnotic. My son calls it house porn, I laugh, but I still watch and from time to time, I do wonder how does it affect me and how I feel about myself and how I feel about the space that I live in and my neighborhood and my bathroom when I look around my personal space and it doesn’t look like that.

The master bedroom suite must contain a walk-in closet, a bathroom with a double sink so two people can brush their teeth at the same time and maybe even shower or take a bath separately.

“Never on my TV is there even a sign or a line of sight for a baby. The baby’s room is down the hall, perhaps even on another floor. The baby too has its own bathroom. Color-coding is very important so you and everyone else will know the sex of the baby from fifty feet away.

There is room for toys, a rocking chair or glider, a changing table and of course a fantastic crib that transitions into the daybed with an obligatory mobile. You can install an intercom throughout the house or a baby monitor but you as the mother are expected and even taught to monitor the baby from another location while you are with the other adults and to listen for signs of crying, hunger or life and you go when summoned. You can also check in on the baby by surveillance cameras and video monitoring.

An open floor plan for your granite counter topped kitchen with stainless steel appliances so your guests can see you while you are cooking and entertaining are critical.

This is why all pregnant women everywhere must move to a larger more expensive location in a better school district with an additional bedroom sometime during pregnancy or just after the birth.

Your baby MUST have it’s own room; their own closet and designer adult style clothes. Shoes when they can’t walk and jeans when they are still in diapers.

What would your dream space look like if you were designing a space for taking care of yourself so you can nurture your baby from pregnancy through weaning? What if mammals (the mother-baby couple) were designed to be together from conception through weaning to ensure survival of the species and smiling faces with good mental health for both parties?

“What kind of space would make it easy to be with your baby and to sleep with your baby and to not have to run all over the place or to be positioned to hear the baby monitor and still keep your husband or your regular sexual partner or the one you want if you don’t have one?
 
Do you have the freedom to decide that and do you truly know how important you are and what you do have for your baby? Will watching hours of television make you think that your relationship with your partner and with your baby will be improved in a bigger house with more bedrooms?
 

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Lois. “Little Black Breastfeeding Book.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/little-black-breastfeeding-book/id529791868

Your baby MUST have it’s own room; their own closet and designer adult style clothes. Shoes when they can’t walk and jeans when they are still in diapers.

What would your dream space look like if you were designing a space for taking care of yourself so you can nurture your baby from pregnancy through weaning? What if mammals (the mother-baby couple) were designed to be together from conception through weaning to ensure survival of the species and smiling faces with good mental health for both parties?

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Lois. “Little Black Breastfeeding Book.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/little-black-breastfeeding-book/id529791868

Knowing What You Have #2 Key to Success

“What do mothers need?
 
The Keys for Success
 
• Love
• Knowing What You Have
• Freedom
• Mother-Baby Couple
• Healing
 

“Shortly after a birth, my postpartum midwifery teacher Betty would switch her focus from the actual act of giving birth to the mother-baby couple. She would always say to those brand new moms just seconds after the baby emerged from her before she ever cut the cord.
 
“Do you know what you have inside of you?” She would wait for a response and then answer: “Liquid Gold”

“It is so precious and wonderful and only you have it made especially for your baby and it is ready right now at the right temperature, just the right amount, ready to give your baby a taste of all the sweetness there is to come in this life. And then if she needed any assistance she would support the newborn latching on to mother’s breast for the first time. If you can imagine the delight in the eyes of most of those young mothers and the joy and confidence they felt in hearing those words and feeling that rush of pride. Most times those first few minutes went well, sometimes not. Some would say “oh maam I am not breastfeeding” It’s Ok, I just need your help to coach the placenta out and then we will be all done.” I learned so much about that mother and the family in just those few precious minutes.

“I was often amazed with what happened in the next few hours, how often they may be asked what are you going to do, do you want to breastfeed, what challenges did they face in bonding with their babies how many hands, visitors, questions later did they have to deal with so that by the time of our next rounds was the wonderment gone, and did she already forget how important she was in the transformation of that pregnancy and the connection between her and her baby.”

“When you think you have something special and unique that you must give and share with your baby and you are in love, tolerating separation for any reason or for any length of time is intolerable.
 
Furthermore, seeing, allowing, or just witnessing others interact with your baby and offering other food, water, or equipment in to their mouths or to their skin can bring up many feelings that encourage either attachment and further connection or detachment and further distancing and alienation.
 
Keeping your baby with you, making sure your baby gets your Liquid gold and can smell you, taste you, feel you, hear your heart beat, and share the substance of you the body the baby just left. This opens the path that establishes the journey for successful breastfeeding and all relationships. The baby orients and synchronizes with you as the mother sharing the space that was their home since conception.
 
If you know what you have is precious, priceless, irreplaceable, you are unable and unwilling to allow anyone to not have you give it to your baby
 

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Lois. “Little Black Breastfeeding Book.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/little-black-breastfeeding-book/id529791868

Featured

What do Mother’s need? The keys to Successful Breastfeeding #1


 
• Love
• Knowing What You Have
• Freedom
• Mother-Baby Couple
• Healing
 
1 Corinthians 13:13
 
“ . . . For there are these three things that endure:

Faith, Hope, and Love. but the greatest of these is Love.”
 
LOVE
 
How are you with the love that you have in your life and the love that you have in your heart and the love that you have for your child, the love you have for yourself? Do you love God, the Goddess; do you worship and feel loved and perfectly made by your Creator?
 
Does it (love) feel comfortable and good and unblocked? When you have a baby love comes up because for most of us we fall in love with our babies in a way that we could not know was possible. Maternal love is different, especially for a small infant. Breastfeeding your baby is one way that you can love your baby. Not the only way, but one way and a very important way that establishes the primary relationship that child will have with the world and everyone in it.

Breastfeeding triggers all sorts of feelings, and hormones and chemicals that allow us to extend the connection and bond that starts when you make love and a little one is conceived, grows during pregnancy and extends through the first few years of life.
 
In some respects, breastfeeding is a continuation of pregnancy and NOT breastfeeding aborts a relationship between you and that, which is part of you and cannot exist independently of you for quite some time. To be a mammal, live birth and warm milk is something we share with many species in the animal kingdom. We can learn a lot from watching them.

“If you do not feel and experience love for your baby, it is impossible to breastfeed and to have a close and intimate relationship with that child. The sucking on your breast causes changes in your brain, your uterus, your breasts, your heart, and your muscles. The sucking also causes changes in the baby. The sucking that occurs several times throughout the day at regular frequent intervals maintains levels of hormones and changes in your body that produces the nourishment for your child, reduces stress, promotes sleep and relaxation and a sense of well-being for you both. The more unrestricted sucking you allow, the more milk that you have. The more at ease you are and the more relaxed you are, the more milk your body makes. It is creamier, sweeter, and higher in nutrients based on how well you feel, how you are eating and drinking and how much you are loved and how loving you are.”

Excerpt From: Jacqueline Lois. “Little Black Breastfeeding Book.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/little-black-breastfeeding-book/id529791868


 

Mothers Happy Day 2020

While not all of us are mothers nor do we wish to be…. we all have mothers! Some we know and love, some we have lost … some at best struggled to be any sort of parent. Today I would like to remember our mother and our Mother Earth and thank them.

If you took a moment and thought about what would make our mother happy; could you … if it was within your power to give her that with all of your love.

At this time, we remember those mothers who lost their babies . Dreams of what their children might be. No mother wants to believe that it is their child who might harm someone else … we live in guilt and shame when our children fall from the mark. We believe it is our fault even when that was not our intention.

Sometimes we don’t know what someone needs or wants ..yet do we have the courage to ask and do what we can to provide …

We love our mother as the one we hoped would nurture us and provide all we needed. They did the best they could. And we thank them. For some of us we never quite felt good enough but we never ever stopped trying!

We didn’t mean to break their hearts to disappoint them or make them sad. How they felt most days had little or nothing to do with us. We couldn’t know that as children .. but on this day, we are at peace at knowing we all have done our best.

Today do something that makes you happy. Today no doubt that would make your mom very proud !

Featured

What do you do that makes you feel better?

I am rarely struck to silence, or even given to pause before answering a direct question.  Sometimes I suppose it depends on who is doing the asking. But when my daughter with three children ages 21, 17, and 9 asked me that question after a challenging day (hers not mine). I was dumbstruck and hesitant and should have had the good sense to just text back; “let me get back to you on that one “. Legitimately she was in the pits and couldn’t snap out of it!

I am very lucky in that I feel good most of the time. Good, better, best, I am at a good starting point. Of course life happens and many things are out of my control, but I don’t have bouts of feeling bad or in search of doing or needing something to make me feel better as a general rule.   I know there is not necessarily a magic pill, or an antidote for a bad day or yet even a series of bad events clearly one right after the other mounting up when you are already past your limit. I am an optimist; glass half-full kinda gal. My optimism annoys my daughter. It is especially annoying when she is feeling bad, overwhelmed and not well.  She depends on me for framing the issue in a different way or the gentle reminder that I find myself saying more often as I get older “that this too will pass” . I thought this bit of encouragement was coined by my mother until I later learned this maxim was somewhat attributed to bible verses allowing for anyone who calls on the name of the Lord to expect that they will be saved.  So while we are yelling in the moment, be assured and encouraged, HELP is on the way.

While we don’t understand why bad things happen to us and why we feel sad and overwhelmed and not up to the task however small; it is in fact a temporary condition that invites us to be more loving, kinder, gentler with ourselves and others. The condition we are facing will pass. It won’t last all ways. We will be drawn closer to a loving presence where we won’t feel ashamed, and not good enough.

In 12 step program fellowships when you struggle with an addiction; they ask you to just stop for a moment and use the acronym HALT!  Ask yourself, are you hungry, angry, lonely, or tired? This could be a trigger for searching for a way to do something to make you feel better.  What you select as the remedy may seem to work for the short term, but it does not truly address what is bothering you.  You can barely care for yourself and yet you are expected to supply someone else with their most basic needs for survival 24 hours a day seven days a week. How might that even be possible?

When I want to feel better almost instantly; I pray!  It works every time.  Even when I didn’t know it was working. Just being myself was truly enough.  I have a conversation with the Love that I know to be true in God’s presence.   If I am feeling awful, I know it is often because I believe something that I also know is not true.  There is a bit of information that I need that I am missing or help in this situation to see the reality more clearly. I don’t try to talk myself out of it, I just lovingly accept for that moment, that is how I feel, and it is the very best I can do.  It is in that moment of deep surrender that I feel the love well up around me and something shifts.  Indulging in that space of unconditional love is what many mothers do so readily for their little ones.  It is a gift we can learn to give ourselves.

At times, it may be sitting down with a cup of tea, allowing myself a bit of grace where I am not being graded or evaluated by anyone. There is joy in what we do and who we are. I am grateful to have friends I can call on that I don’t have to explain everything. It just is and hearing their voice encourages me and makes me feel better.

Tell your story, what may have worked before having a child may look very different now. I would love to hear what you do when you want to feel better. What brings you Joy?

Can you imagine having grandchildren?

Yesterday, my newest grand-daughter Ava Violet was 4 weeks old.  To me, she is so affectionately known as Diva clutch your pearls, number 5. I love the way she smells!

 When I think about how transformative it was to have a child, especially for the very first time, I could not have imagined having grandchildren.  Too far in the distant future, I didn’t have a sense of the line of women before me; the women who would come after me. I do now. It makes me cry with such gratitude.

 Amazing, miraculous that I am the one left still standing among the women who thought of me, prayed for me, imagined I would be coming along and that things would be better for me. Do you know your maternal lineage?  Can you name the names of the 5 women who preceded you? Mother’s mother, her mother, and her mother, and her mother. Women yet unborn, names you don’t yet know. Connected to them for one year, 365 days, would it make it easier to have one more day with her.

Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen

Lois Antoinette

Violette Ellen

Jacqueline Lois

Amber Joy

Taylor Marie

 More powerful, more lovely, more mystical is your love for your little one. 

Do you feel the love of someone who loved you like that?

Imagine holding your baby!

Imagine being held in your grandmother’s loving arms!

Tell your story, mention her name, write their names down, tell your daughters, honor your mother

A picture containing person, indoor, sitting, wall

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https://www.familytreedna.com/products/mt-dna

* direct maternal lineage is the line that follows your mother’s maternal ancestry. This line consists entirely of women, even though both men and women have their mother’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This means that fathers do not pass on their mtDNA to their children. Your mtDNA can trace your mother, her mother, her mother’s mother, and so forth and offers a clear path from you to a known or likely direct maternal ancestor.

Have you ever nursed another mother’s baby?

Before the advent of readily available infant feeding substitutes, it was not uncommon for women who were unable, unwilling or unavailable to nurse their babies to engage the assistance of wet nurses who would readily nurse another women’s baby.  This would not only save the life of the baby and in some regards the life and reputation of the mother.

It was considered a noble activity, sister sharing if within the same family or close-knit community, it could also be a lucrative profession for women at a time when women were rarely paid for women’s work. Often their own infants may indeed suffer the loss of milk or time, though depending upon cultural norms, their own children could be raised alongside or just ahead of the infant they were also nursing.

I have had the pleasure and the honor to nurse another woman’s baby. Always with permission, and in my case by the request of the mother in whose absence I was “called to duty”. Whether it was due to the reluctance of the infant to take a bottle or for the expressed comfort needs of the mother who felt what I had was better than the alternatives. Today, we may freeze and share vast quantities of excess breast milk given or sold by women with an outrageous supply of milk either because their baby was not available or had passed, or who had a tremendous supply due to the efficiency of modern day “milking machines” or electric pumps.

There is a clear history of black women nursing the babies of their white slave masters, their own children by their owners or the infants of their wives at times even simultaneously. It is a tangled web of traditions, secrets and clandestine relationships between women, their babies and the fathers of their children especially in isolated rural areas. There were many stakeholders in the decision as to who would nurse the baby when mother was not around. Having accessible affordable household help has always included the nurturing of children as well as support for the women unable to maintain the house and home-making. Having a ready supply of milk from healthy mothers was one way families and communities were ready to address an excessively high infant and maternal mortality rates rampant in certain parts of the country.

Where the wet nurse lives, who she lives with and the proximity to the baby and the babies’ mother and father could make for very interesting dynamics in the household.  It also extends our notion of “family”, cooperation and sharing.

More recently in social media and blogs, mothers have reacted quite strongly to women nursing their babies without permission.  Slate, an online newsmagazine took reader’s questions supposedly regarding the etiquette of a mother-in-law and a babysitter nursing someone’s baby secretly without permission.  However well-intended and well meaning, trust was broken, and both mothers reacted as violated and saw the offenders as criminals.  

Daniel Mallory Ortberg and Emily Yoffe ” pseudonyms” for Dear Prudence neither of whom would identify as nursing mothers Dear Abby’s of our day made no mention of any endearing qualities in a person spontaneously offering a breast to a baby while solidifying the moral outrage for women who lack boundaries on when to nurse someone else’s baby. 

 There is a long tradition now broken of the source of that instinctive touch of maternal connection and comfort. When we are gender neutral and there are pacifiers, bottles, nipples as well as multiple options for infant feeding, pureed foods and liquids; what might have been considered life affirming and lifesaving for the infant rarely considered the mothers’ emotional response to a crying, hungry infant and their stressed out mom.

Hormonal surges aside, whether lactating or not, the women felt something strong that might override any hesitancy to offer their breast.   Many nursing mothers may be shy to say they only wished there was someone who could “fill in” in their absence that they could trust. Would you feel differently if you believed the infant was orphaned and there was no other mother to step in? The police officer who found an abandoned baby, who had a nursing infant at home was applauded for her quick thinking and willingness to immediately take a cold hungry, dehydrated infant to breast as quickly as someone else might perform CPR.

So, what’s your story, please tell us about your experience?  Have you ever nursed an infant other than your own? Have you heard of a “wet nurse”?  How do you feel when you hear someone else’s baby cry? What do you think about the possibility of nursing another mother’s child if she asked you, if she gave you her blessing and permission?

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_nurse

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/javiermoreno/police-officer-breastfeeds-newborn-baby-found-abandoned-in-o

https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/police-officer-breastfed-crying-baby-hospital-hailed-hero-180949452.html

Day care provider breastfeeding your baby: advice from Dear …

https://slate.com/…/daycare-provider-breastfeeding-my-baby-without- permission-advice.html

Feb 19, 2019  Daniel Mallory Ortberg is online weekly to chat live with readers. Here’s an edited transcript of this week’s chat. Daniel Mallory Ortberg: Good …

Dear Prudie: I caught my mother-in-law breast-feeding my son. What …

https://slate.com/…/dear-prudie-i-caught-my-mother-in-law-breast-feeding- my-son-what-do-i-do.html

Jul 9, 2012  Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers.