Brooklyn author, Jennifer Baumgardner's recent essay "Breast Friends" explores a topic so taboo Gothamist had never actually heard of it before -- "cross nursing" or "milk siblings". In her essay, Baumgardner details her experience nursing a friend's child while that friend nursed hers. And while she initially was shocked and put off by the idea, she has completely warmed to it by the end of her baby swapping experience. Gothamist was a nursing mother at one point, so we've been there, but for the sake of full disclosure, we have not done THAT.
As Baumgardner describes it:
"I took him and rearranged my shirt and bra to expose my breast. Skuli sat on the floor, not seeming to think anything weird was going on. I put Lionel on my chest and he began sucking. The familiar tug made the milk rush in; his sucking strength and style were different than Skuli's, his little face so incredibly sweet. It felt really . . . normal. Anastasia fed Skuli, too, and because he was older and had teeth, she got her first bite."
While there are no severe health risks associated with cross nursing (assuming the participants are disease and drug fee), neither are there any benefits. According to the breast-feeding bible, La Leche League Intl, some possible problems include psychological confusion and the lack of best nutrition: "Babies of different ages require a specific composition of milk. Milk from the baby's own mother will provide the exact make-up the infant needs; another mother whose baby is not the same age may not provide the same components."
In the essay, Baumgardner explains how it enhanced the bonding and intimacy between the two mothers. She even suggests that there are other mothers out there longing to swing with their infants too, but too scared to broach the subject. We know that New York City parents are known for outsourcing just about everything, but could wet-nurses be making a comeback? Gothamist Mom informally polled her own cohort of mom friends and got a resounding, "No."
Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn's verdict: "I don't think a baby needs to bond with mom's best friend in this way."