Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn't always come naturally. For some moms, challenges can prevent them from producing enough milk to sustain their babies as they develop. That being said, these issues don't have to prevent you from feeding your baby with mother's milk. If you are looking for alternative ways to provide your baby with breast milk, you may have wondered, what is a breastfeeding surrogate?
As Breastfeeding Basics mentioned, medical conditions such as insufficient glandular tissue, thyroid imbalances, and breast cancer can inhibit a mother's ability to produce milk. But because breast milk contains so many health benefits for baby, many moms would prefer to look for other sources of breast milk before offering formula. And, as Dr. Naomi Bar-Yam told Fit Pregnancy, "another woman's milk is a great second choice."
The idea of a breastfeeding surrogate is not new. The concept of wet nursing, or the complete nursing of another woman's baby, has been used since 2000 BC, according to The Journal of Perinatal Education. Throughout history, what began as an option for mothers in need of breast milk evolved into an option of choice for women with the means to pay someone else to nurse their babies. When bottle feeding was introduced in the 19th century, wet nurses' popularity decreased.
If you are unable to hire another woman to nurse your baby full time, there are other ways to give your baby breast milk. According to Parenting, milk banks and cross nursing (allowing another woman to supplement your baby's nutrition with her breast milk) are other available options to consider.
If you are considering using a breastfeeding surrogate to feed your baby, it's important that you take precautions to make sure the milk you use to feed your baby is safe. As Parenting mentioned, you need to make sure your milk donor lives a healthy lifestyle and has been tested for things like HIV, staph, hepatitis, and syphilis. You should also ensure that the milk you receive is suitable for your baby's age, as a mother's milk changes as the baby grows. And, as always, remember there is no shame in not breastfeeding your baby yourself or at all. Because when it comes to your child, fed is best.