You trust your daycare provider with a lot — to keep your child happy, fed and safe. But one mom is trusting her sitter with all the usual responsibilities plus the unconventional task of breastfeeding her son while Mom’s at work.
A photo of the woman breastfeeding two babies is causing some people online to clutch their pearls, but seeing the difficult task of tandem breastfeeding in action doesn’t seem to be what has people talking. It’s the fact that one of the kids isn’t her own. In honor of World Breastfeeding Week, Mama Bean Parenting shared a photo on Facebook of Jessica Anne Colletti breastfeeding her own 16-month-old son and her friend’s 18-month-old boy. While many people were supportive of the image, some found nursing another’s child inappropriate.
More: World Breastfeeding Week: 20 Breathtaking photos to celebrate the beauty and benefits of breastfeeding
Colletti began watching the boy when her own son was 3 months old and asked his mom if she would be OK with Colletti breastfeeding both boys, since they were so close in age. As the child’s mother was struggling with breastfeeding and her son was having issues with formula, she was happy to have Colletti step in and lend a hand. Colletti has been feeding both boys for over a year now. She calls the boys “milk siblings” and says she has a special bond with her charge as a result of their nursing time together.
So many mothers try to breastfeed but can’t due to supply issues, trouble latching or medical reasons. If, like Colletti, you enjoy the act of breastfeeding and have supply to spare, then offering to nurse someone else’s child is an extremely generous and selfless act that should be applauded.
Some might think it’s unusual to give a child milk that’s not from their own mother, but if you’re reading this while having a bowl of cereal or your morning latte, then you know humans drink milk from sources other than their own mothers all the time. Using donor milk is becoming increasingly popular for mothers who want the benefits of breast milk but have poor supply or are unable to produce an adequate supply themselves, and Colletti nursing her charge isn’t all that different.
If Colletti were to pump for her charge while breastfeeding her own son, she’s making more work for herself. Surely breastfeeding both boys together is easier and cuts down on the “gimmies” toddlers are prone to when they want something another child has. It’s true that breastfeeding provides a unique chance to bond with your baby, and for that reason, some moms may not be thrilled with the idea of their child getting that much snuggle time in with another woman. But if both mom and the nursing woman are OK with it, then that’s their choice to make. Historically, wet nurses were de rigueur, so what Colletti is doing for her friend’s son isn’t new at all.
If you are considering using donor milk or a wet nurse, there are several things to consider. La Leche League recommends talking to your health care provider beforehand to let them know of your plans. It’s also strongly suggested that you discuss the donor’s dietary habits, any medications they may be on, whether or not they smoke or drink and how much caffeine they consume before you start the donor or wet nursing process.
If the donor or wet nurse is also nursing a child of their own, it’s important to remember that breast milk will change to support the needs of a growing baby, so an infant would need breast milk from a donor who is also feeding an infant. Giving an infant donated breast milk or using a wet nurse who is also feeding a toddler may not provide the infant with the nutrition they need.
Breast milk donors and recipients should discuss any allergies or dietary issues the baby may have, and the wet nurse or donor should be screened for infectious diseases. Offering to provide breast milk for another person’s child is a wonderful gift and, with proper precautions, can be very beneficial for all involved.