Could you breast feed someone else’s baby?

I have had this discussion with a few friends. Could you feed someone else’s baby or let someone feed your baby?

In theory I am okay with it, after all  Selma Hayek fed an African baby on a visit to Sierra Leone to promote breast feeding.

In dire straits with no other options I think I would. I would also feed a newphew or niece if needed but otherwise I  think it crosses a boundary for me. Probably a silly
society influenced boundary, but still.

Could you?

And just for AJ – how would you feel about your wife or partner breast feeding another baby or your baby feeding from someone else?

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13 thoughts on “Could you breast feed someone else’s baby?

  1. After careful consideration I have to conclude that I probably couldn’t. At least, not unless I first became an alcoholic and damaged my liver severely enough to prevent it from filtering out the tiny amounts of progesterone in the male body and thus causing male lactation… :

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  2. To answer the final line question. There are two factors one would have to consider:
    1) Breastfeeding can spread diseases – so I would have to trust another person feeding my child on much the same level as I trust my wife/partner.
    2) Breastfeeding also shares antibodies, and more diverse antibodies is good for the immune system – so the counterargument is that it could actually be good for babies to be breastfed by multiple women.

    So let’s assume I can be reasonably assured that 1 does not apply ? I would be quite okay with it I think. Wetnurses were a part of Western Culture for centuries – and were basically “fellow breastfeeders”.
    While I don’t approve of the class system in which wetnurses existed, I have no moral problem with it as a concept. There is a definite bonding factor in early breastfeeding but later on I am quite comfortable with the idea I think. The “ickyness” people may feel about it is purely cultural and even in our own culture that is a very new change in tradition – the tradition was exactly the opposite until just two centuries ago.

    I don’t think culture or tradition is an argument for or against anything. I respect people’s right to make cultural decisions, but I prefer to evaluate such cultural ideas rationally – and I can think of no rational reason to be opposed to multiple breastfeeders.

  3. Rationally I understand that and I agree, but when it is my boob I am sharing out it suddenly feels a bit odd.

  4. Most women have had their breast suckled by multiple adult males before they ever breast-feed. With a child the sex-factor is completely removed so I don’t really see why it would feel odd.
    Not that I’m dismissing your feelings, those are by definition not rational and it’s your body and your feelings SHOULD help guide your decisions about who gets to do what with it.
    I’m just saying that it’s a feeling I have difficulty empathising with and suggesting a different point of view. Far be it from me to say any particular point of view is more valid than another as it pertains to a body-part I do not possess however.

  5. I think I would be able to. I saw a baby in very bad distress at a time that my baby was still breastfeeding, and all I wanted to do was hold the baby and feed it.

    But I would not feel comfortable letting someone else feed mine, unless it is an emergency. Think it might actually make me jealous.

  6. You have some valid points, but while breast feeding is not sexual, it is a relationship and I guess it is hard to imagine feeding a baby you do not have a bond with.
    As for multiple men before, lets not talk numbers shall we 😉 but for me it is only one partner at a time and so I guess the same with Breast Feeding it seems like an exclusive relationship.

    Lets be clear if there was any emergency or a baby really needed it then I would with out a shadow of a doubt but in most situations, one can express and use a bottle or donate breast milk for those who need. Or even get formula for a baby that needs feeding.

  7. I fully respect your views. Though the immediate question becomes “and if you had twins ? Or triplets ?” even own-children-only breastfeeding is often not exclusive (that’s why
    nature gave you two) 😛

    Still – as I said in the beginning, it’s your body – you must follow what makes you comfortable. I can only say that I personally wouldn’t have any issue with people who practised shared breastfeeding duties. I can well imagine such a thing in more alternative lifestyles like poly-amorous-communes for example and I have no principle issue with it.

    At the same time, if Caryn was uncomfortable with it I wouldn’t ever pressure her, or indeed ever even suggest it. I just mean that if she asked me – I would probably consent with a smile.

  8. Twins or even tandem feeding my own would be different, they are mine, the bond is there.
    I know it is not totally rational, and I wonder at my own reaction to the idea

  9. I don’t think this would bother me at all really. It’s a matter of a woman ensuring a child has nourishment. It seems natural and a matter of course. There would need to be a reason. But I would not mind.

  10. When I was born (almost 40 years ago), the nuns in the hospital I was born in actually used to bring hungry babies into the wards and the new moms would feed several babies because back then they believed this would help the new moms ease over-full breasts when their milk came in!
    I think society definitely makes us feel differently about breastfeeding than people did forever ago when wet-nurses were the norm, but nowadays there is also a much higher risk of illness than their used to be. I wouldn’t dream of someone else breastfeeding my baby with HIV and AIDS being as prevalent as it is in South Africa.

  11. While I can come to terms with the idea of feeding someone elses baby, I struggle with the idea of someone else feeding my baby. I have that special bond with Adam and enjoy knowing that it is mine alone.

  12. In theory I am OK with it. But in reality I am not so sure. My one friend breastfed a nephew when he was born and his Mom was struggling a bit. I probably would do it if there was an emergency situation.

  13. I’d feed someone else’s baby no problem if they’d asked. I gave milk for my niece when she was born but didnt breastfeed her.

    And I’d be happy for someone else to feed mine as long as I’d asked (nothing like that creepy story in the US where someone caught their MIL breastfeeding their baby). If my baby was hungry and I didnt have milk for them – and I knew the person well enough to trust them – then I’d absolutely ask them to breastfeed my child.

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