Or perhaps the idea of another women breastfeeding your infant is a little scary to some, because the risk of passing along an existing disease, like HIV, is possible. Though the CDC has reported that the risks are extremely low, and having a mother with HIV breastfeeding your child is rare anyway. So is it the innate desire we all have protect our children from harm that invokes such strong reactions to this subject?
What about those women who choose to have their babies breast fed by others, not because it’s a medical necessity, but because they are simply too busy with their careers to be able to fully make the commitment to nursing, Maybe there are single mothers who can’t afford to take the time off of work providing for their baby, but still want all the healthful benefits? There are still wet nurses that are hired to breast feed other women’s babies so that these new babies don’t have to have formula. Are these women wrong for wanting to give their babies everything?
Breastfeeding your baby is very personal, with a lot of emotions attached at every turn. If you can breastfeed and produce enough milk to continue until the child is two, you are criticized. Or if you can’t produce enough milk and switch for an alternative form of food, like formula or obtaining another mothers breast milk, you are criticized. If breastfeeding is painful and you never get past it and you choose to have your child be on formula, you are criticized. This is one of those topics that strangers feel they can tell you how you’re “supposed” to do it while riding in an elevator to your office floor without even saying hello first. Which is why it’s no surprise that in our overly opinionated, hyper sensitive society with way more information at our fingertips than ever and the protection of a screen name, others feel that weighing in on such a topic without knowing anything about the individual is so normal.
Now I have to admit that even I have a knee jerk reaction when picturing another woman breastfeeding my almost 10 month old of “ewww”. When I search for why I feel that way, I can’t really pinpoint why. Was it the idea of another women feeding my child with her breast? Or the fact that she felt so comfortable and confident, she posted a picture of herself on the Internet actually doing it? Maybe it was the feeling that I would never be comfortable sharing my milk with another baby? I would like to think that of course I would help out another mother and baby in need, but am I strong enough to share my babies precious and ever dwindling milk? I’m still soul searching.
Breastfeeding is personal to every mother, so perhaps when Meg Nagle posted those pictures of herself breastfeeding her nephew on Facebook there was a feeling of her sharing something she shouldn’t have. Something private and sacred. But her intention, and result, was for her to raise the awareness about wet nursing, or “milk sharing” as it’s sometimes called. So no matter what your personal feelings on the subject, it was a powerful and effective way to get people talking, and hopefully learning about the