Can I Breast Feed My Friend’s Baby?

Dear Mamas,

This might sound like a really crazy question, but can I breast feed a baby who’s not mine?

Last week my best friend left her 8 month old with me while she went to a doctor’s appointment. I have a little girl who’s just a month older, and we’re both still breastfeeding, though the girls are also eating solids.

My friend was held up when she had to wait forever for her appointment (I’m sure you know how THAT is), and poor little Leah was just dying to nurse.  Things got worse when I fed my Casey and Leah started to wail. I was so tempted to just hoist Leah up to the other side, BUT IS THAT OK?

I didn’t do it, and we spent a painful hour plus until her mom got back. So I need to know in case this happens again, is it alright to nurse someone else’s baby??

Dying to know, Pamela

Dear Pamela,

Your question goes back to the age of wet nurses, when it was common for wealthy mothers to employ help to nurse their babies. The practice is seeing a resurgence, and it’s not uncommon to find modern wet nursing situations.

Some women feel comfortable feeding a friend’s baby, and allowing that woman to breast feed her child in exchange. This is called cross-nursing or shared-nursing. However, cross nursing does have some problems and mothers should be aware of them before nursing another mom’s child.

One of the most common problems is the possibility of transmission of infections or medication from the lactating mother to the child. So if you have recently been ill with a viral or bacterial infection, or are taking any medication, it’s best to avoid the practice. Of course, it’s best to talk to your doctor about anything that may pose a risk to your baby as well.

But if you’re healthy, have plenty of breast milk to spare, and are willing, I’d say go for it. It certainly makes it easier to leave a nursing baby, knowing that a friend is ready to step up in a pinch, and that the favor will be reciprocated when needed. Chances are it will deepen your friendship, too. There aren’t many gifts that are more intimate.

Fast forward a few years and your girls will have a special bond that few childhood friends can claim. Yes, it really does take a village …

The Mamas

Email This Post Email This Post

Rachel Zahn, MD is a pediatrician turned health writer who had three kids during medical school and pediatric training—crazy, huh?


Warning: Illegal string offset 'echo' in /home/mamasonc/public_html/mama/wp-content/themes/hybrid/library/extensions/custom-field-series.php on line 157

One response to “Can I Breast Feed My Friend’s Baby?”

  1. Tina

    Why not ask the Mom? she’s surely going to want what’s best for her baby. If she has a problem with you nursing her baby she needs to leave expressed milk in a bottle for her.

Leave a Reply

Loading

MAMAS ON DEMAND

PARENT COACHING
& CONSULTATION

With One or Both of Us


Go to AskDrMama.com & AskMamaEllen.com for the scoop!

Phone • Internet • Your Home or Group

Listen up

No Meat For Me!

Is a vegetarian diet really okay for little ones?

Watch This!

Keep their science muscles growing with these easy, fun experiments!

What You Said

  • Ellen Schrier: Thank you so much! Please come back often!
  • Ellen Schrier: Hi Lisa, Sorry for the very late response. We are sorry to hear about your daughter and are sure that...
  • Lisa jacobs: My daughter was in a car accident and now has a concussion. She is plan to go to Mexico City which is a...
  • RF: Well my baby had her first two bottom theeth at 10 months old and i tought so far so good and then now at 11...
  • kupon rabatowy apart: I am actually thankful to the owner of this site who has shared this impressive article at at...
  • ofertas cine: That is a great tip particularly to those fresh to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Thanks...
  • Commercial Real Estate: Hello there, You have done a great job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to...
  • actualite: Hi to every one, the contents present at this website are really remarkable for people knowledge, well,...
  • bonne année 2017: You need to be a part of a contest for one of the greatest websites on the web. I’m going to...
  • Samantha: My daughter wakes up with a rash on her face, back, neck, arms and some times hand. Once she starts moving...

Just so you know

The Mama ButtonThe information provided by MamasOnCall is not intended as a substitute for professional advice, but is for information purposes only. You assume full responsibility for the health and well-being of your family. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychiatric condition.