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Preview: Comments on Everything old is new again: cross-nursing and wet nursing in the news.

Comments on Everything old is new again: cross-nursing and wet nursing in the news.





Updated: 2007-04-30T11:07:00Z

 



Wow, DragonMama, you are a wealth of information! Thanks. It's so interesting to learn about breastfeeding in a historical context....

2008-05-19T18:25:28Z

Wow, DragonMama, you are a wealth of information! Thanks. It's so interesting to learn about breastfeeding in a historical context....

Wow, DragonMama, you are a wealth of information! Thanks. It's so interesting to learn about breastfeeding in a historical context.

I would also do anything I had to in order for my children to receive breastmilk if I were unable to nurse them myself. Two of my aunts cross nursed their daughters when needed (at least one time that I know of anyway!) It just seems to me a very reasonable thing to do, so long as you know the person well and have mutually decided that it's okay.

I noticed the topic of cross/wet nursing brought up by the media. I too am wondering why, though I'm less inclined to think it's because breastfeeding is becoming more normalized and more for the "ick factor". I wonder what commercials played before & after the segment.....

-Beth




Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily...

2008-08-26T00:15:47Z

Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily...Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily available). There are actually online recipes for what our non-breastfeeding foremothers gave their little ones (late 19th/early 20th century it was based on either evaporated or condensed cow milk, I always confuse the two!). And yes, they were much more dangerous to the health and well-being of the infant than wet/cross-nursing, in any case (and arguably still are, as long as the full health status of the provider of the human milk is known - you never know what the cows were fed or injected with and very few soy formulas are organically grown, for starters). Plus the whole antibodies thing, and the fact that the formula you buy for a 2 day old is not any different in composition (allegedly, at least, assuming no contaminants enter the process) than the same brand when you feed it to the same child at 5 months old, but the child's needs for fat/protein/carbs have varied at different points in between. The human breast responds to that. It's also the reason I didn't bother to really try hard to give my son the milk I pumped. It was always considered an emergency backup supply (I have pre-existing medical issues that have been unmedicated for a long time, but occasionally flare up bad enough that I go on prescription narcotics to control the pain, and I didn't want him exposed to those. It's nothing life-threatening but it's really annoying, and if it hit bad I'd need to take the medications to be able to care for him properly instead of just laying in bed moaning in pain while he stayed in the same dirty diaper all day!). It IS fairly common, these days, to have people who don't have anyone in their family who REMEMBERS being breastfed - my grandmother and her siblings were most likely breastfed, but great-grandma died before anyone thought to ask and all the older siblings are long gone too (my grandma was the youngest and the only one to have kids of her own). My grandmother didn't breastfeed her children, and my mother didn't get the support she needed to breastfeed me or my brother (though she did try). Her sister breastfed for at least part of the first year, not sure how long - we didn't live in the same state when her kids were born, so I never saw her nursing. For that matter, I never saw ANY member of my family breastfeeding (except my mother's very clumsy attempts with my little brother, which weren't exactly educational and inspiring). This is why I'm such a strong proponent of not-so-discrete nursing in public - if it wasn't for STRANGERS nursing in public, the thought of breastfeeding my own children may never have occurred to me. It's also part of the reason I've gotten over my own discomfort of other people's children being really curious when I'm nursing my own child - it may be their first experience of seeing a nursing dyad, and my rational brain finally realized that - if *I* act uncomfortable and ashamed that they're looking, they're going to think it's something to be uncomfortable and ashamed about whereas bottlefeeding isn't, and that's not a lesson I want to put out there (even if their parents might prefer it sometimes ;) they're free to usher their kids away if they don't want them around me and my nursling). I still can't remember where my first exposure was, but it was significant enough to inspire curiousity at a fairly young age, to the point that I'd educated myself on the topic significantly by age 16 when my family doctors first started suggesting a breast reduction - I've refused because I knew already back then that it would severely limit (if not eliminate) my ability to breastfeed my children, and that breastmilk was an important protector to them against some of the health issues I grew up with (it's a combination of gen[...]



Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily...

2008-08-26T21:11:59Z

Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily...Goat milk was a common human milk substitute (and I hear it still is, in a pinch, where it's readily available). There are actually online recipes for what our non-breastfeeding foremothers gave their little ones (late 19th/early 20th century it was based on either evaporated or condensed cow milk, I always confuse the two!). And yes, they were much more dangerous to the health and well-being of the infant than wet/cross-nursing, in any case (and arguably still are, as long as the full health status of the provider of the human milk is known - you never know what the cows were fed or injected with and very few soy formulas are organically grown, for starters). Plus the whole antibodies thing, and the fact that the formula you buy for a 2 day old is not any different in composition (allegedly, at least, assuming no contaminants enter the process) than the same brand when you feed it to the same child at 5 months old, but the child's needs for fat/protein/carbs have varied at different points in between. The human breast responds to that. It's also the reason I didn't bother to really try hard to give my son the milk I pumped. It was always considered an emergency backup supply (I have pre-existing medical issues that have been unmedicated for a long time, but occasionally flare up bad enough that I go on prescription narcotics to control the pain, and I didn't want him exposed to those. It's nothing life-threatening but it's really annoying, and if it hit bad I'd need to take the medications to be able to care for him properly instead of just laying in bed moaning in pain while he stayed in the same dirty diaper all day!). It IS fairly common, these days, to have people who don't have anyone in their family who REMEMBERS being breastfed - my grandmother and her siblings were most likely breastfed, but great-grandma died before anyone thought to ask and all the older siblings are long gone too (my grandma was the youngest and the only one to have kids of her own). My grandmother didn't breastfeed her children, and my mother didn't get the support she needed to breastfeed me or my brother (though she did try). Her sister breastfed for at least part of the first year, not sure how long - we didn't live in the same state when her kids were born, so I never saw her nursing. For that matter, I never saw ANY member of my family breastfeeding (except my mother's very clumsy attempts with my little brother, which weren't exactly educational and inspiring). This is why I'm such a strong proponent of not-so-discrete nursing in public - if it wasn't for STRANGERS nursing in public, the thought of breastfeeding my own children may never have occurred to me. It's also part of the reason I've gotten over my own discomfort of other people's children being really curious when I'm nursing my own child - it may be their first experience of seeing a nursing dyad, and my rational brain finally realized that - if *I* act uncomfortable and ashamed that they're looking, they're going to think it's something to be uncomfortable and ashamed about whereas bottlefeeding isn't, and that's not a lesson I want to put out there (even if their parents might prefer it sometimes ;) they're free to usher their kids away if they don't want them around me and my nursling). I still can't remember where my first exposure was, but it was significant enough to inspire curiousity at a fairly young age, to the point that I'd educated myself on the topic significantly by age 16 when my family doctors first started suggesting a breast reduction - I've refused because I knew already back then that it would severely limit (if not eliminate) my ability to breastfeed my children, and that breastmilk was an important protector to them against some of the health issues I grew up with (it[...]



DragonMama, Yes, yes, you're right. It would have been more accurate to say "the modern use of formula," or "formula...

2008-08-26T00:15:56Z

DragonMama, Yes, yes, you're right. It would have been more accurate to say "the modern use of formula," or "formula...

DragonMama,

Yes, yes, you're right. It would have been more accurate to say "the modern use of formula," or "formula as we know it," but I'm not that good at thinking on my feet!

As you point out, while breastmilk substitues are very old, they were a far more dangerous substitute than cross/wet nursing. I'd be scared to learn what was in the 1897 brands!

One of the things I find strange is that people seem to think that "formula" (in it's current form or something like it) has always been around. Sometimes people say to me that no one in their family has ever breastfed, and I really think that they believe that they were fed formula going back 400,000 years. Know what I mean? We were all breastfed at some point if we're here.

- Tanya




Just a note, artificial infant feeding is much MUCH older than 50 years. The Sears catalog from 1897 contained at...

2008-08-26T21:04:29Z

Just a note, artificial infant feeding is much MUCH older than 50 years. The Sears catalog from 1897 contained at...

Just a note, artificial infant feeding is much MUCH older than 50 years. The Sears catalog from 1897 contained at least 8 different brands. There are bottle-equivalent infant feeding artifacts left over from the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Wet nursing wasn't the only way a baby would survive, but it definitely gave the kid a better chance of survival (in the Victorian era only 20% of infants made it to their 2nd birthday, one wonders how many of those deaths were due to not being breastfed combined with other factors of Victorian life). These are facts that I've researched in the past when people have tried to tell me how dangerous childbearing is because our ancestors DIED in childbirth. I point out that sanitation has never been as good as it is now and a great many of the "ancestors" who were well off enough to get their statistics recorded (not mine, I'm of peasant stock!) were handing off their babies to be fed elsewhere so they could get pregnant again ASAP (and deplete their bodies' nutrient supplies, not letting their uterus have a rest, etc etc etc - the risks of frequent, rapid-fire childbearing are well known to anyone who has dealt with breeding any species of mammal). Of course, ancient young mothers did die, for various reasons (not all associated directly with childbirth) and other ways of feeding their infant if no other lactating woman was nearby had to be devised. Our ancient ancestors were ingenious, just as we are. The infant found in the group of bodies called the Cherchen Mummies has an artificial infant feeder buried with it, the baby has been dead for 3,000 years. The family is presumed to be nomads (they have Caucasian features though they died in China) and it's postulated that the mother died before the infant did.

Here are some online references:
early infant feeders - http://www.babybottle-museum.co.uk/the%20early%20feeders.htm
Ted Greiner's Breastfeeding History - http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/Spa/3156/history.htm (hate using Geocities references but it's the version available online)
An article about Cherchen mummies - http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20060828/ai_n1669651

(cross-posting and expanding this comment to my own blog so I don't have to retype it again later, it's a discussion I seem to have frequently in real life).




I wanted to donate milk before when I thought I was gonna have to pump and dump but can't because...

2008-05-19T18:25:04Z

I wanted to donate milk before when I thought I was gonna have to pump and dump but can't because...

I wanted to donate milk before when I thought I was gonna have to pump and dump but can't because of Rx. But if I couldn't BF, I'd totally be hitting up my friends to help me out. I have several friends to accepted donated milk when they were having issues.

Good for you for speaking up, I probably would have just rolled my eyes or something silly.




Fabulous post, Tanya! Although I don't know anyone personally who has cross-nursed,or who has been cross-nursed, I know a lot...

2008-05-19T18:25:28Z

Fabulous post, Tanya! Although I don't know anyone personally who has cross-nursed,or who has been cross-nursed, I know a lot...

Fabulous post, Tanya! Although I don't know anyone personally who has cross-nursed,or who has been cross-nursed, I know a lot of women ho are interested in donating breastmilk.
Like you, I would do whatever I could if I was unable to breastfeed in order to get human milk for my baby (so long as it was screened!)




My youngest brother and one of my cousins were born 3 months apart. My aunt (the cousin's mom) used to...

2008-08-26T21:08:28Z

My youngest brother and one of my cousins were born 3 months apart. My aunt (the cousin's mom) used to...

My youngest brother and one of my cousins were born 3 months apart. My aunt (the cousin's mom) used to babysit my brother while my mom was at work, and if my mom couldn't make it home to nurse during the day, my aunt would nurse my brother and her daughter at the same time. This was in the mid-1970s, and I don't think anyone ever questioned her about it.




I have friends that donate their milk to local milk banks and also to babies in Africa. I think more...

2008-08-26T00:15:31Z

I have friends that donate their milk to local milk banks and also to babies in Africa. I think more...

I have friends that donate their milk to local milk banks and also to babies in Africa. I think more & more women are becoming aware. This was a great post!

Steph