If you’re a new mom, you’ve probably already read about all the benefits of breast milk. Not only is it an environmentally sound way to feed your baby, it’s also cost effective and provides superior nutritional benefits to your baby as she grows.
However, what if your infant just isn’t taking to nursing with you, you’re unable to provide enough fluid for their growing body or work commitments just aren’t allowing you to take part? Many mothers struggle with breastfeeding, and it can often seem that switching to formula may be the only option. Fortunately there is a growing demand for women who are over-producing milk to step in and help mothers who are having a tough time.
From the ancient practice of wet nurses all the way to the breast milk “banks” of today, women sharing breast milk is nothing new. In fact, many mothers are turning to selling their excess milk as a way to add income to their family’s finances while they’re on maternity leave. According to a report on ABC News, moms who sell their extra breast milk via internet sites can sometimes make several hundred dollars a month.
While this may sound like a godsend to some, others worry about the financial and health implications of using another woman’s milk. Is it possible to feel secure when another woman is providing or your child?
How Is It Sold?
Using another woman’s breast milk can be done in one of two ways: through a wet nurse or by using a milk bank. Wet nurses act much like a child care provider by visiting your home, oftentimes with the equipment they will need such as a breast pump. It would be thoughtful and aid to the comfort of feeding to have on hand a Mombo nursing pillow by Comfort and Harmony at Target locations.
Your child will be directly nursed by this woman, providing an intimate experience for your baby. However, some mothers feel this might harm the bond between them and their baby. The other option of using a milk bank allows a mother to select which woman she will purchase from, and she can then feed her own child through the use of a bottle.
What Are The Costs?
Though obviously more expensive than making a switch to formula, some mothers feel that the nutritional benefits of breast milk outweigh any financial implications involved. A wet nurse can either pay visits to your home or actually live with you for the first year of your baby’s life. According to some staffing agencies, wet nurses can expect to be paid up to $1,000 per week for their specialized services.
Opting to use an online milk bank can be slightly more affordable, depending on whom you select to buy your milk from. Studies estimate that you can expect to pay anywhere from $400 – $1,000 per month.
Are There Any Health Concerns?
When you are using another woman’s milk, there are always going to be concerns about any potential harmful bacteria or illnesses that can be transmitted to your baby. Most wet nurses are happy to provide you with full documentation of medical screenings to prove that they are in tip-top shape for nursing your little one. Milk banks, while cheaper and more convenient, offer very little in the way of guarantees of the mother’s health status.
While most of the ads on online breast milk selling websites will state that the mother is healthy, vegetarian or even taking prenatal vitamins, you are really taking their word for it. Research what other mothers are saying about the sellers you are looking into to find out as much information as you can before you buy. Ensure you research the agency's collection, storage and shipping procedures thoroughly as some supplies have been found to contain high levels of unfriendly bacteria and contaminants.
Though breastfeeding is the obvious winner in the nutrition stakes for your little one, there may be things standing in the way of you being able to provide them with the nourishment they need. Take the time to research if purchasing through either a milk bank or wet nurse is the right choice for you and your baby. If formula is the best option at this time, that's okay too.
Just knowing you have options and alternatives will put you a step ahead in your childcare. Remember that aids like the Mombo nursing pillow by Comfort and Harmony at Target will enhance relaxation and comfort for infant feedings.
Krystie, She just didn’t like milk at all. If she had been my first baby I would have thought it was my fault but since she wasn’t, I just moved on and gave her other things. Being a mom is a challenge, isn’t it?
Well, everyone is different. I’m not a big milk fan myself. It’s interesting though. I’ve never heard of a baby not liking milk only being allergic. Does she still not like milk? Yes, being a mom is def interesting.
My first baby loved nursing and then the second one hated it. I switched her to a bottle and she hated that too but at least it didn’t hurt when she bit it! She never did get to like milk and so I think that some babies just have their own opinions!!
She didn’t like milk at all? Was she allergic? I couldn’t get the nursing thing down but they sure did love milk.
I find this an interesting alternative but it is not one I would select. I have always felt being a mother was my job and honor.
It is def an honor Arleen 🙂
Interesting, I had no idea there were still “wet nurses.” A friend of mine had trouble breast-feeding – as much as she wanted to, it just couldn’t happen. I suspect this is more common than we realize, and it’s good to know there are more options out there. Amazing world we live in!
I had trouble too. Did your friend try pumping? That’s what I did.
I like the concept but not the method. If women are going to be supplying others with breast milk I think there should be a central health agency that can check out the mother’s health records and monitor the quality of the milk. Without that it can be rather scary. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.
I agree! I wouldn’t be taking a bodily fluid from just anyone. Scary thought.
Krystle and Teresa, like most I was aware of wet nurses in the past but I had no idea that Nursing Mums for Lease was an available service. Not really qualified to express a strong opinon bur as always it is interesting to see your take on the many issues and decisions that mothers face.
Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie)
I didn’t know they still did this! Although it was common practice long ago, I don’t hear about it anymore.
I mainly hear about it a lot in other countries but there are also websites that specialize in this.
Wow i didn’t know this was still going on and for the price for them to live with you i hope they cook and clean like a nanny. How do they weed out diseases?
I have read sites recommend you to flash heat or pasteurize breast milk you buy. They say it kills things like HIV.
In centuries gone by there were wet nurses who would feed another woman’s child can you imagine that happening today………….I bottle fed all my girls breast milk for the first 3 months of life as I could not get them to breast feed and I wanted them to have the best start so I expressed and fed them via a bottle
I did the exact same thing Jo Anne!
I find this an interesting option but not one I am to sure about. I don’t think if I was a young mother, I could use this service.
Me too. I think personally I would be scare because of diseases and such to try something like this. I would worry the milk was contaminated.