The Story Of A Real-Life Wet Nurse

Our guest blogger today is a REAL-LIFE Wet Nurse!! Her story was so incredible that I begged her to let me share it here on Mommy News Blog! There is also a great in-depth story about wet nurses that you can find on the Parenting Blog – we encourage you to read that coverage as well. Please read below and share in the joys that this mom has felt by being able to donate her breastmilk to other babies! I hope you feel as inspired as I have by her story!

By Military76Brat

I am a proud mother of an 11 year old daughter. Right after having my daughter my dream was to breastfeed her to have the closeness and bonding that breastfeeding offers not only to the mother but the child as well. After about 4 weeks of breastfeeding my daughter, she wasn’t gaining weight like she should have been. It was later determined that she had a problem with her bite which made it difficult, nearly impossible to latch. I was determined though to give her the best food in the world though. So, sadly I went to formula feeding my daughter. Why? Because I didn’t find out until 2 months later that I could feed her breast milk from the bottle. So, I went back to pumping to at least try to mix in my own milk to make it better for her in the long run. She didn’t take to the milk and by that time was hooked on formula. It was heartbreaking to watch her reject me (or at least it felt like rejection).

I had a good two gallons of milk stored in the fridge and freezer of my apartment. I didn’t want to pour it down the drain. So, I learned about donating breast milk to banks for mothers who wanted to give it to their babies. I did just that for about 4 years!

military76brat Then I moved to a larger city, where I learned of another need that I had never heard of, and that was of being a “wet nurse” or surrogate breastfeed as the proper terminology was used. I learned of it from a friend of mine (who has since moved away) as she was doing this for a family. I asked her how she started doing this, as I was still producing milk as if I was a cow that was ready to feed a dozen calves! She told me that I could either go through a clinic where I could be matched up to families with the same lifestyle (which would cost up to $3,000 out of pocket for testing and background checks) or I could just talk to a good majority of my friends that I had that were pregnant and ask what their thoughts were of the subject.

To my surprise it was taken very differently than what I expected. There were at that time two families that wanted to have their babies fed breastmilk. One didn’t like the thought of actually breastfeeding or pumping and the other simply stopped producing milk after 2 weeks. I offered to be a wet nurse for them. They looked at me stupid. I told them that being a wet nurse did not mean having to have the child attached to my breast, that I could pump and then they could bottle feed. I did show them that I was clean and disease free from medical documentation to put their minds at ease. They were very open to this idea. Their partners were astonished that this could even happen in this day and age. They thought being a wet nurse died out after the late 1600′s!

So, for a year I dedicated to solely pumping for TWO wonderful babies that were not mine (a boy and a girl). Then they slowly told their friends who told other friends who told others (see the cycle of word of mouth). I started getting phone calls and letters asking me for my services.

I am currently pumping for one child who every now and again (more so when I get to have her for a few hours so her parents can have alone time) she will want to latch and feed directly. The parents are perfectly fine with this.

I have grown apart from the other families that I used to pump for, but from time to time I will get a letter that has a picture of one of the young ones in it! I don’t charge for this service, I do it because it is a natural resource and breastmilk is the best food for all babies under 1 years old!

Alas though, I fear that I may only have it in me to do this one more time after this one (which means another 2 years in my definition). So far in my years of doing this (7 of being a wet nurse and 4 providing pumped milk to milk banks) I have provided mother’s milk to 13 children, and I don’t know how many babies were given my milk when I donated to the milk bank in my old city.

I am a mother to a wonderful 11 year old daughter. I host a blog Celebrating Life w/Bargains that gives my opinions on wonderful items from all across the spectrum of things that every person can use as well as wonderful giveaways that I find across the web. My dream one day is that I can eventually start up my own non-profit organization and really give more back to the world, and starting my blog is just one way that I am preparing myself for that time.

Do you know of anyone who has been a wet nurse? Salma Hayak brought this subject to light in the news recently when she breastfed a baby in Africa. How do you feel about it? Would you breastfeed another mother’s baby? Would you donate your pumped milk to someone who needs it? Please share your comments, questions and stories. We would love to hear them!

18 comments to The Story Of A Real-Life Wet Nurse

  • Wow! That’s a beautiful gift you were able to provide. I pumped for a time for a local baby who had been adopted, but I found it exhausting to try to coordinate it with breastfeeding my own young baby and stopped when the girl turned 1 (although there were other mothers providing donations as well). So I’m impressed when I hear of a volunteer who’s able to pump so much for so long! The families must have appreciated it immeasurably.

    Lauren @ HoboMama’s last blog post..How to photograph your baby for the beginning photographer

  • Wow, good for her.

    Kelly’s last blog post..Aloha Friday #85

  • What a wonderful woman! That’s so amazing!

  • Jill

    To answer you question, YES! It’s pretty common for the lactating moms in my community to donate breastmilk to other moms who need it. One pumped six to nine ounces a day for a baby that needed it and many find a worthy home for their frozen stores of milk.

  • Amy

    I pumped for my daughter – who couldn’t breastfeed because of her prematurity – for eight months, and that was exhausting! I think it is just incredible that you have been both willing and able to do this for so long. The gift that you have given these families is beautiful.

    I believe that people who do not or have not nursed have a difficult time understanding the natural ability and inclination to feed a child. My nephew was born 8 months after my own son, and when I held him in his arms and he “searched”, my milk let down. This is completely normal, yet many people in 2009 have a tough time understanding this.

    Bravo for what you’ve done for these children!

  • Wow! What an amazing generous, selfless woman. I have friends who have nursed other babies once or twice but nothing like this. I would do it myself but have not had the opportunity thus far, but I don’t think I would do it on an ongoing basis or after my own children had weaned. But it is lovely to know others would.

    Melodie’s last blog post..Foodie Fridays: The New Juice

  • Kim

    Wow, that is incredible. I don’t even pump for my own son, I find it a pita, and so time consuming. Truly a selfless woman. Thanks for posting this and giving her the credit she deserves!

    Kim’s last blog post..Meet our Fluffy Mama of the Week- Marisa

  • What an incredible story!!

    A friend asked me to pump for her baby when she lost her supply after returning to work, but I was not able to produce enough pumping to make it work (cross-country, at that).

    This is such an amazing gift to have given all those babies…

    Tiffany (Life on the Road)’s last blog post..Homestead Blessings

  • Ellen Lillegard

    I am currently a full time working mommy of a beautiful 3 month old girl — I pump to feed her breastmilk exclusively and give all my extra milk to a couple I have known since High School — to feed their daughter who is five weeks younger than mine. It was my boyfriend’s idea & it has worked out beautifully — they are able to give her 2-3 bottles of breast milk a day. I just couldn’t imagine them having to only feed her formula.

    Updated comment (1/15/10): I neglected to clarify that my friend’s daughter was adopted, thus the for breast milk. My bf and I were driving home after the baby shower and suggested that we offer them some of my milk since our freezer was overflowing. With such a demanding work schedule I was only able to supplement their daughter for about 5 months, but I have continued breast feeding my ten month old and plan to continue as long as possible. I even shipped milk home when I was out of town on business for a week. It is the greatest gift a mother can give -I have the utmost respect for anyone who donates milk & wet nurse services, especially for those who cannot breast feed their own child.

  • [...] For more information on this topic please read this story of a modern day wetnurse. [...]

  • I would breastfeed another baby, although i admit, i would be even more paranoid about thrush! lol.
    .-= Slee´s last blog ..Pink Saturday: Amidst the Garden and Monster Trucks =-.

  • not that i think one gets thrush from breastfeeding other women’s children. just that i have a paranoia of it, and i know how often my baby’s mouth gets cleaned out and whether or not he’s been sucking on something sweet.
    .-= Slee´s last blog ..Pink Saturday: Amidst the Garden and Monster Trucks =-.

  • While checking my own blog’s analytics, I saw that we were both linked on dreamalildream.com I loved reading your story, and the story at dreamalildream as well. I breastfed my friend’s baby last summer and it gave me so much pause for thought. Here is my post on this topic: http://nicoolio.tumblr.com/post/145163852/wet-nursing-crash-course
    .-= Nicole Labry´s last blog ..Christmas in New Orleans!  Now in color photos!  Above picture… =-.

  • Thanks so much for visiting my blog Nicole and for sharing your inspiring story! — Judy

  • Melissa

    Hello mommy’s out there! I was wondering if any of you are still donating your precious milk? My daughter is very medically fragile and needs it to survive…I hope someone reads this soon…our supply is very low!
    Meljae0409@gmail.com

  • Leslie

    Where can I find a wet nurse near me?

  • Hi Leslie,

    You can contact Eats on Feets or Human Milk for Human babies – they should be able to hook you up with someone local. Best of luck!

  • [...] I mean, in order for a woman to work as a wet nurse she must have been lactating. Where is the wet nurse’s baby while she is up at the Wall? Or are her babies long grown and she just keeps lactating as she moves from one wet nurse gig to another? What are the logistics here?  [...]

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