I had the chance to nurse a family member’s baby, when she was ill.  It was only one time.   It was a newborn and my baby was 1 year old.

20th century

It was weird, because I hadn’t nursed a tiny baby in forever and suddenly my baby seemed HUGE!

It was great, because I was helping someone I loved.

It was normal to me, because it just felt right.

There may be times when we are called upon to nurse a friends baby or a family member’s baby.   Would you do so if the opportunity arose?

Wet Nurse as a job?

This is a whole different type of wet nursing.  I am not opposed to it, but in todays world, there probably is not a large number of such jobs available.  I found a great article in the Williamsburg Magazine about Wet Nurses (search page 19) in historic times. It was interesting to read about the debate about nursing even back then.






  1. I have a dear friend that had a baby 5 months after me. She actually lived with us while she was pregnant. At one point she had to get dental work done, and because of the medication she would be required to “pump and dump” for 24 hours. Her baby wasn’t too keen on taking a bottle, so I nursed him until she was feeling better. Then at some point she had to nurse my baby (maybe for dental work again? I can’t remember). It seemed like the natural solution to both of us. I know some people consider it weird, but to me it is just a lovely way to help nurture each others children.

    We also found out that in some cultures children who have been nursed by different mothers are known as, “milk kin”. It’s kind of sweet to think of that special bond being created. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_kinship)

    I also remember my mom telling me that when she had a baby die of SIDS at 7 months old, one of the sweetest things someone did for her was letting her nurse their baby, since she was so engorged. Not a common service, but it meant a lot to her!

  2. Maria Farley

    In 1990 while living in San Diego CA with a two year old and 3 month old baby, I was asked to give a talk and sing for a elderly woman’s funeral who had passed away in our Latter Day Saint Ward. She had only one son living who she was estranged from, but many friends. Despite my best planning to prepare for the time, my baby got very hungry before I was finished. The sweet sister who was watching my baby for me had several other children including a 1 year old who was still nursing. As I heard my baby’s fussing increase and get louder even from the hallway, my anxiety rose. I was up next to sing “How Great Thou Art.” Suddenly the crying stopped and she seemed to be calm. I finished the song and left the stand to investigate. This sweet sister had nursed my baby. I was so grateful for her tender, very appropriate gift to both of us. It seemed as natural and perfect for her to do as anything.

  3. I have nursed my sister’s baby. Her milk didn’t last as long as mine (our babies were born a couple of months apart), and she was happy to let her son get a little boost of the lovely things human milk could give him, which formula couldn’t. It’s a little strange at first, because each baby is unique even in the way it nurses, but it led to a sweet connection with my nephew. Even though he now has forgotten how to suckle and I can’t nurse him anymore, his eyes still light up a special way when he sees me.
    My mom-in-law likes to share a story of when she and several sisters in her stake went on a bus trip from the Chicago area to Nauvoo to sing at a dedication of the monument to women in 1978. It was an overnight trip and mom was the only nursing mother who brought her baby along. On the bus ride home, she passed the baby up and down the bus so that other nursing women could nurse the baby and relieve themselves of the discomfort of over-full breasts.

    Honestly, I hope that wetnursing is something that become widely acceptable again in our culture. There are many women who easily make abundant milk and who could bless the babies of those who for health or other reasons may not be able to nurse their babies but who still wish their babies to be nursed.

  4. A few years ago, I have a friend who unexpectedly needed to be in the hospital and couldn’t nurse her baby for 2-3 weeks because of the medication she was on. Her baby would not take a bottle or would eat very little of other foods. So three women in our ward nursed this baby for the entire duration they were needed. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about their love, selfless serving, and sacrifice. In Korean, the word/symbol for charity is a mother’s breast. Charity is the pure love of Christ–what greater comparison could there be. Thank you for posting!

    • enjoybirth

      That is such a wonderful story of sisterly love!

  5. I’ve wondered if women/babies who are struggling with breastfeeding could be helped if they tried trading with a woman/baby that were already successfully breastfeeding. The baby that knew how to nurse would help the new mother figure it out. The mother that was already a pro at breastfeeding could work with the new baby learn, too.

    • enjoybirth

      That is an interesting idea. It seems like it might work!

  6. I love the idea of helping another woman and baby. My husband is aware that if i ever needed surgery, etc, I’d find a woman to nurse for me. Thankfully I have a friend in town who would do that for me. I wish there were more women open to this idea!!