Cross Nurse and Wet Nurse
What is the difference between wet nurse and cross nurse?
Cross Nursing is when someone else breastfeeds your baby on a temporary basis. For example, the mother has gone for a walk and is delayed; her baby is crying with hunger and will not take a bottle; another lactating mother breastfeeds her baby just until the biological mother returns home.
Cross nursing usually occurs between women who are very close: like two sisters or cousins. Sometimes, close friends who have children of the same age may cross nurse. It is very rare that complete strangers will breastfeed your baby without your permission.
By the 16th to 18 century, it became unfashionable to breastfeed your baby. Some of this came from the fact that Royalty wanted large families with 10+ children. The birth mother would hire one or more wet nurses to feed the newborn so she herself could regain fertility and get pregnant again. Since royalty didn't breastfeed their own, other women of wealth did the same. This led to the attitude that breastfeeding was only done by the poor & lower class.
When baby formulas were commercially available, wet nurses were needed less and less. In the 1980’s, it was discovered that AIDS and other viruses could be transferred in breast milk: the use of wet nurses was even less. [This is true in United States, but in developing countries, wet nurses are still very common].
Surprisingly, wet nursing is making a come back. People are aware that breast milk has many benefits that cannot be duplicated in infant formulas. So more and more families want to feed their babies breast milk. Here is a list of reasons why a woman may choose to hire a wet nurse instead of breastfeeding herself:
The public is divided when it comes to wet nursing. Some people think that it is wonderful. What better thing to give a baby than breast milk? If the birth mother cannot supply the milk then another willing mother should. It’s no different than offering milk from a cow’s udder – except that the breast milk is infinitely better.
Others feel that breastfeeding should be between mother & child only. This sacred relationship should not be “out sourced” to another woman. Still, other people feel that wet nursing and cross nursing is indecent and weird. Sociologists believe that some people object to wet nursing because they have mistakenly equated breastfeeding with sexuality and eroticism.
Currently, the La Leche League discourages wet nursing and cross nursing because
Despite all this, if you still wish to hire someone to breastfeed your baby, consider these safety precautions: