What would you do if the treatment to a common ailment left you unable to breastfeed your infant? Last week, Ronja Weidenbeck found herself in that very situation. The breastfeeding mother from the U.K. was rushed to a hospital and given morphine for the pain she was experiencing in conjunction with ovarian cysts,and while she was ultimately OK, the heavy-duty meds left her unable to feed her 11-month-old baby boy.
A full supply wasn't an issue; Wiedenbeck had a frozen stash of the good stuff on hand left over from when she nursed her daughter, who is now 6. But her son, Rio, won't take a bottle or cup, which left Wiedenbeck concerned that the little dude could become dehydrated while the morphine was making its way out of her system. She needed help, so she asked for it.
Within hours, no less than one thousand women volunteered to breastfeed Rio while his mom was on the mend.
Wiedenbeck posted her plea on a private Facebook group called Breastfeeding Yummy Mummies, which provides support to women who breastfeed their babies exclusively. Her request was pretty straightforward, but she never expected the overwhelming response she would get:
"I am in Treslike hospital in Truro Cornwall," Wiedenbeck posted. "I have a 10 month old baby boy who I can't nurse due to being pumped full of Morphine. I don't suppose there is anyone who would come and nurse my son for me a couple of times today please??? Id (sic) be ever so grateful."
That was a week ago, and seven days on, Wiedenbeck does in fact have plenty of cause to be grateful. In her hour of need, five strangers came to the rescue — all with background checks and accompanied by a friend of Wiedenbeck's or Wiedenbeck herself — when each of them took a turn at the hospital or in their own homes giving Rio a little nosh. One mom even tandem nursed the little guy with her own baby!
Wiedenbeck, who is home and back in business now, boob-wise, took to her own Facebook page to publicly thank the group of women that she is calling her "angel mamas." One glance at the women who came to the rescue shows that despite having a dedication to breastfeeding in common, they come from all walks of life:
And remember, these are just five of a thousand. A small sample size that shows that, when the will to help a fellow mother is strong, any other differences could easily fall away if we give them the chance. When we're often bombarded by negative tales of breastfeeding, seeing these women rally around a stranger reminds us that to see the good in something, we sometimes have to make the good in something.
Little Rio took to the donor breasts with very little to-do, if Wiedenbeck and the photos are to be believed, and the word of the day is "instinct;" with the women describing that any lingering weirdness was quashed by the instinct to help a fellow mother and a hungry baby.
Of course, there is some risk when it comes to wet nursing, and that mostly centers around the transmission of infection, which can happen, even if mom doesn't know that she has a nasty bug to pass on, like HIV. However, with Wiedenbeck and Rio being closely monitored in a hospital for the week, it's likely that if anything were to have been passed along, it could have been caught and treated immediately.
Ultimately, this story reminds us that there is still a place for communal parenting, if only we ask. Wiedenbeck could have kept it to herself; maybe after a few awful days of struggling to wean or force a bottle on a baby with no interest in one, sure, things would have worked out without the help of strangers. But why? If you're willing to ask, and someone's willing to help, than why ride the struggle bus?
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