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Thursday, April 26, 2007I posted earlier this week looking for some moms that had cross nursed or wet nursed. Thankfully, many of you wrote to help me track down some women for a spot on national TV.
The spot aired this morning on the Today Show on NBC and should be available online shortly.
It started with a quick scene of Kirsten Dunst in Marie Antoinette just after she'd had a baby. She says (as they are taking the baby away) "I'd like to feed him." The woman taking the baby responds "But madam, we have a nurse for that," as the baby is whisked away.
Next we cut to Janet Shamlian of NBC Chicago reporting on mothers. They speak with Tabitha Trotter who says she often breastfeeds someone else's baby. She states that she has nursed the children of gay men, of moms that have multiples, moms that are on medications, etc. She estimates that she's nursed more than 40 infants over the last decade. She's never charged for her services though, she does it, because she wants to help.
They then cut to Gretchen Flatau, the Executive Director of the Mother's Milk Bank of Austin, Texas. She mentions that there's a risk of direct cross nursing or wet nursing because of the potential to spread viruses. She talks about the screening process and the pasteurization process of the HMBANA milk banks.
They cut back to Trotter, who explains that the pasteurization process destroys some of the benefits of the breast milk and that she feels that the milk has the most impact when it comes straight from the source.
Shamlian then mentions a service in California that wet nurses can be hired through. They stated that the going rate for a wet nurse starts at $1000 a week. (Though I think what they meant was that it ADDED $1000 a week to the typical nanny fee, as from what I understand, the wet nurses of this variety also serve as nannies.)
Shamlian also mentioned that while wet nursing and cross nursing are happening, many women fear being judged when they talk about it publicly, so it still mostly goes on quietly and behind closed doors.
With that segment wrapped up, they shift to Merideth Viara in the NBC Studios. With her are:
Jacqueline Wolf, Department of Social Medicine, Ohio University
Jeanne Rosser, from La Leche League International
On the topic of professional wet nursing, neither one is in favor. They both point out that there's a concern about the potential of exploitation for the mother's of poor children. (A concern I've noted in the past as well...) Wolf points out that paid wet nursing is a situation "frought with peril" due to the potential for jealousy between the mother and the wet nurse since nursing creates such an intense physical bond.
When it comes to cross nursing, where mothers aren't paid, both women support the idea. They explain that it takes so much time, so much concentration and so much focus to have that breastfeeding relationship and with more than half of mothers with children under a year old working, it's a time issue. They talk about a mom's need to focus on work, to focus on nursing the baby to focus on older children and basically point out that many moms are "too busy" to be able to fully nurse their own children.
Rosser explains that mothers need to know that there are risks involved in cross nursing, and states that LLL likes to support the mother/baby nursing relationship. She states that La Leache League does support milk banking because milk banking is screened to rigorous standards and is pasteurized for extra protection.
Wolf explains that if you are going to cross nurse or have a wet nurse, you need to know "as much about that mother as you would know about a sexual partner."
Viera asks about bonding between mother and child. "If you are't feeding, do you break that bond?"
Wolf states that that is her primary concern about wet nursing, that a paid nurse is nursing th baby all the time. That means that a strong bond is going to form between wet nurse and baby rather than mother and baby. She goes on to explain that with informal cross nursing, it's an occasional thing and it's very unlikely that you'll risk breaking that mother/child bond.
Viera asks about what a mom that is interested in doing this should ask.
Wolf (I think) replies that you need to know the woman's health history and situation and that she should go through a health screening similar to what she would if she was going to give blood. She went on to point out that this practice is more common than people realize, but they ran out of time and the segment actually cut Viera off in closing to go to local news.
Overall, I think it was a very good, very positive piece, far better than I had hoped for. Hopefully the the transcript and video will go up later today so that I can link to that.
ETA: The Today Show has the story up online now.