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Borrowed Breasts: Milking the Buddy System

May 31, 2008
Still unto this day, moms are donating milk to other mothers who either produce scant or zero quantity milk from their breasts for whatever scientific reason there may be. The milk exchange system goes back for centuries. And today the organization of wet nursing has made a lot of headway in organization, storage and exchange. This article will reference a few surface topics from the field of wet nursing and will provide some further references to infant nursing in general.

So first off, the reason for the big need in breast milk is a varied and important subject. An infant's first few suckling sessions contain powerful immunity components that are passed from the mother. This is important for the child as their immunity is so easily prone to attack, their own front line of antibodies have not reached maturation. It's been noted that the bond between child and mother also may help the psychological development of the baby and even the mother -- certainly enforcing their loving attachment.

That being said, when there is difficulty bringing the milk on, the woman can employ a few measures to activate the glands. Generally a nurse will start the mother on scheduled rounds of breast pump usage. Coupled with the use of a breast pump, massage and regular suckling of the baby is used to stimulate more lactic flow. Further measures, such as prescription drugs and relaxation therapies are used. But if that does not work and the woman really does not want to go to formula route, wet nursing (or cross-nursing) has shown to be popular of recent.

Wet nurses have been used throughout history among nearly every culture. Although wet-nursing is not as well received in most developed countries as it is in others, the idea of sharing the breast giving duties has sustained a healthy feeding regiment for a newborn.

Wet nurses are usually mothers themselves. They may have regular lactating breasts from a recent birthing, or on occasion, simply caring for the child spurns mammary lactation.

Some famous figures in history were wet nursed as children:

- Moslem prophet Mohammed was wet-nursed by a woman by the name of Halimah bint Abdullah
- Wet nurse by the name of Camilla assisted feeding Napoleon as an infant

Even full adults had requested nutritional wet nursing, such as J.D. Rockefeller and John Jacob Astor.

As you can see, the wet nurse still has its place in today's society, though today's societal rules typically mandate the use of a breast pump to transfer breast milk to a bottle rather than directly nursing.
About the Author
Got Breast Milk LLC (http://gotbreastpump.com/BPInfo.php) offers milk inducing products, everything from the breast pump to herbal capsules, tools for infant health are at one easy to access location. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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