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23 year old nanny asked to be a "wet nurse"... suggestions please?

I have been a nanny for the most amazing family for the last 2 years. They have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I have tons of experience with young children and while the youngest was only a couple months old, the Mom would pump everyday for us and we would be set. That is what I am accustomed to doing.


Well, while I was at Sellwood park today, I was visiting with this family I used to nanny for 3-4 years ago and I met their family friends: a mom who has 4-mo old twin girls. Well, it turns out she is looking for a "wet nurse" and asked me if it is something I would be interested in. She offered $20/hour and a pump so I can start trying to induce it.I've done a lot of research and while I eat super healthy (I grow my own veggies and raise my own meat on a 1/2 acre in Mt. Tabor) and never use medications, coffee, etc... I am looking for other people's opinions regarding this offer. I am 23 years old and have never had children of my own. Though I support nursing mothers 110% (the Mom I nanny for calls herself a "lactivist"), and I would love to help a child like that, I am totally caught off guard by the offer and don't really know what to think right now!

Any suggestions? Is this common? I was born and raised here in Portland and my aunts use to nurse me, but I thought it was something of the past. 

Can you please help me figure out what to think of this? Thanks! Ida.

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i don't know. i wouldsay do what you feel is right. historically, this has been not only acceptable, but commonplace, especially among elite mamas (think romeo and juliet and the "nurse" character). i also have a friend who wetnurses. and i was babysitting a child a while back who tried to nurse off me (i was 8 months pregnant at the time). so, while i have never done it, i htink i would if i felt comfortable. does that help?

Wow. The currently not lactating part is an obstacle, but there is a ton of information on how to initiate lactation on Dr. Jack Newman's site: www.breastfeedingonline.com. I have a 10 month old, and have experienced the issue of not being able to lactate, despite the best efforts. Calvin has been incredibly fortunate, and was exclusively breastfed or breastmilk-fed until 9 months. Close to 2 dozen mamas helped make that happen. Half dear friends, and half were women I didn't know before this process... women who for whatever reason had "extra" milk in their freezers and generous hearts. Because of the incredible time commitment it took this many women to receive a "full supply". Having a wet nurse would have been wonderful, but I can't imagine how you would find one. It seems, at least in my situation, that you would need someone to "live in" and be available "on demand". That is a lot to ask! Regarding reimbursement... exactly what part of this process would you be paid for? As to the appropriateness of the question... I would imagine this mama is overwhelmed and just desperately looking for help. Your decision has to be based on what is good for you, and trust me, this would be a serious commitment. Please let this mama know that www.milkshare.com is an invaluable resource (this is where I found all those lovely milk mamas who weren't dear friends before). Also, "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon has two awesome recipes on making formula at home-- one raw milk based the other meat based. Calvin has at times had both of these, and responded very well to them.

While it is not common to hire a "wet nurse" anymore, as the benefits of breastfeeding have been gaining attention in recent years, human milk banks are back on the rise. Several years ago, I had so much extra milk that I couldn't get my breasts to stop -- they were literally fountains. A number of people recommended I donate the extra bottles I was throwing out each day to a milk bank. While I am a healthy eater, I chose not to donate because I didn't want to meet the dietary restrictions required (many of the babies drinking the milk are sick, so their requirements were more rigid than my own baby's needs). However, I did have a friend who took several of my bottles when she was having a date night and didn't have enough extra milk to pump her own bottle. Since milk can transfer diseases that are strictly screened for in a milk bank, it is not generally recommended to share breastmilk in a casual manner like our parents did (I too was nursed by an Aunt and a cousin when they babysat me decades ago.)

As for producing milk when you aren't yet a mother -- my mom had a friend who did that so she could nurse her adopted child but she was given hormonal suppliments from her doctor to assist her in the process. I am not overly surprised that a mother of twins would want to purchase breastmilk for her babies. And, since Portland doesn't yet have their own milk bank (one is in the works but not up and running), I'm not shocked that she is seeking her own source (even though it isn't recommended because the milk isn't properly screened), but I am surprised that she is asking a non-parent to produce the milk...

I think it would be extremely difficult for you to lactate, especially to produce enough milk even if you do. I nursed my nephew a couple of times, and love the idea (but I am still nursing my 18 month old son, so that's not a problem). I just think you will have trouble. She should look for someone who is already lactating.

I have twins and when they were still nursing, I was fortunate enough to have a lot of friends with overabundant milk supplies and only one child, so I supplemented with their leftovers when I didn't have anough milk for both of my babies (which was often!). I agree, though, that asking someone to lactate when they don't have children seems a little extreme and difficult... It seems like it would be easier to just spread the word around to female friends to ask if anyone has any extra stored milk.

If you do decide to do it, there are two medications that can help stimulate lactation: Reglan and Domperidone. Reglan is approved in the US, but I highly recommend against taking it (I took it and it help spin me into PPD/anxiety). Domperidone is available on the Internet (from NZ, I believe). Not only was it amazingly effective (for me), it didn't affect my mood the way Reglan did. More info here: http://kellymom.com/health/meds/prescript_galactagogue.html

I'm a nanny and, quite frankly, I would say don't do it. How much do you know about the medications you would need to take to make lactation happen? For better or worse, there is a certain amount of sacrifice and risk women take to their own bodies (taking medications, phsyical changes, etc.) to have children, but are you really willing to do that for children who aren't yours and for a family who have no formal obligation to you? JN listed some side effects caused by lacation stimulation drugs--how would the family compensate/help you if you experienced those symptoms and either couldn't work or had other negative reactions? Would you be covered by health insurance or have something akin to worker's comp?

I think it is one thing to ask breast-feeding moms who have extra expressed milk to help (I really think people who donate milk are performing a great service for kids and moms) but something about being hired to chemically induce lactation for a child who isn't yours is bringing to mind The Handmaid's Tale and issues of purchasing women's fertility. Keep in mind that Romeo and Juliet's wet nurses did so because they had very few options to support their own families and themselves financially, not out of altruism.

Ultimately, this decision is your and yours alone, but I would advise you to VERY carefully outline how this is going to work and to make sure it works out as well, if not better, for you as it does for this family. This should not be something where you are paid cash hourly. You need a serious contract.

From a purely selfish perspective....

I'm assuming that you don't have kids of your own. Based on my own experience of being a mother and nursing my child, I wouldn't have wanted to share the nursing bond with someone else's child before I had the chance to experience it first with my own. The nursing relationship can be incredibly deep and awe-inspiring, and I think I would have felt robbed of some of the magic.

I would breastfeed and help her it can be very overwhelming for her and especially with twins. The extra help would be wonders for this Momma. I would love to be a wet nurse myself, but no one has asked. I am a Mother of 3 beautiful children all gifts from God I am truly blessed. My husband got me pregnant in 08 and we had our first in Aug 22nd 09 but before that in July -June around that im of 08 I had a miscarriage, and then again in Oct 09 but sadly we lost our little one due to a miscarriage it was very tragic. My husband got me pregnant in 2010 again with our son who is now 2, our oldest is 3, and then in 2012 my hubby got me preggo again with another baby girl who is almost 8 months, thought we were expecting again in 2013, but we aren't right now. We are both Christians and very excited about me breastfeeding and pumping, right now I am looking for mothers in need of my milk and for preemies in the hospital also in need of my milk for nutrients there are some babies who can not.. have formula who really need breastmilk it's very important for babies to get that good nutrients in their bodies it has so much good in it and also to help them grow into healthy children/ adults with a healthy immune system which is so important and with your help you could do that. The money is great 20 an hr... I would do it for sure. :D But it's your choice. Like I said before I am a Momma of 3 with lots of breast milk a lot of the times I just put it in bags and put to store into the freezer and I would love to be a wet nurse. I also am very healthy and eat tons of veggies, lots of fruits and proteins. I don't drink caffeine or do anything bad to harm my body. You could also do this to help prepare you for when you become a mother yourself. You would be a pro mom when you have your baby and wouldn't need to worry about the crack and bleeding nipples phase. Which really does hurt but then they become toughen and nursing is very natural it makes me tired though. Make sure to ask the Momma which positions to use while feeding her baby because every baby is different. I would look up more research on the nutrients and videos for research. Good luck and I wish you the best of luck.

I recently induced lactation to be
a wet nursing nanny.
I would let a family know that is my interest-
to breastfeed a newborn or toddler.
I have lots of breastmilk from expressing
and pumping all day, everyday.
just waiting for someone to contact me.
I know there is a family for me somewhere.

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