Which mother's milk?
August 22, 2012 9:03 AM Subscribe
posted by Megami (37 comments total)
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While mothers breastfeeding their babies goes in and out of fashion over the ages, so to does another facet of breastfeeding – wet nurses
Wet nurses have been a fixture of child rearing from ancient times – there are reports that Julius Caeser’s mother Aurelia was considered odd for choosing to breastfeed her own child rather than use a wet nurse (even though good Roman mothers were meant to breastfeed their own children to pass on good attributes in their ‘mothers milk’), and was often used by propertied classes so that women would continue to fall pregnant. But in the last century it has fallen from favour in Western societies, now mainly limited to ‘cross-feeding
’ amongst close friends or the occasional celebrity doing what they think is right at the time
. When it is discussed now, it usually with distaste
, often for feminist reasons
, though there are agencies out there who will source a wet nurse for you
. And there are a growing number of milk banks
However wet nursing continues to be the norm in some societies. And not just for humans. There are instances of women choosing to breastfeed non-humans: whether it is monkeys
, or a calf
or various other animals.