It Takes A Village

A Mom 'A Few Drinks In' Lets Her Friend Breastfeed Her Baby

In a trending TikTok video, a woman’s friend nurses her baby after she had a few cocktails.

Originally Published: 
Woman watches another woman breastfeed her baby.
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Lots of breastfeeding moms have been there: you’re at a friend’s house or family function and you have a few too many glasses of wine. You know you shouldn’t nurse your baby out of caution, so you warm up a bottle of pumped breastmilk or formula.

But what if you forgot pumped milk or your baby hasn’t been introduced to formula yet? If you’re anything like TikTok user gregariously_grace, you ask your sober friend to breastfeed your baby.

“When you’re a few drinks in so you let your friend nurse your baby,” Grace captioned a video of her friend feeding her child as she looked on lovingly. She added the tags #nursing #friendshipgoals #breastfeeding #breastfed #baby #babies #momsoftiktok #foryou #4you #4u #fedisbest #findyourgrace #nourisheveryyou.

The video had 1.4 million views and over 2,000 comments, as of Wednesday.

Comments on the post ranged from celebratory to skeptical, as TikTok users chimed in.

“Too intimate, not a chance. Don’t drink,” one commenter wrote, with another adding, “It’s wild to me how many people think HUMAN milk from another person is wrong but are happy to feed their ‘milk’ from another species entirely 😏.”

“I'd absolutely let a friend feed my baby and I would of happily fed theirs when I was producing too,” user Emmi-pearl Penn wrote.

After receiving a comment from someone who questioned why Grace would not just drink and feed her baby, she posted a follow-up video explaining their situation.

“My friend has a 7-month-old,” she wrote over the video. “Her baby is out of state for the weekend. I let her nurse him to strengthen her immune system. And also to relieve her. It is absolutely okay to drink and nurse. If you’re feeling sober enough to drive you can nurse.”

For reference, CDC says not drinking alcohol is the safest option for breastfeeding mothers, but moderate alcohol consumption by a breastfeeding mother (up to 1 standard drink per day) is not known to be harmful to the infant, especially if the mother waits at least 2 hours after a single drink before nursing.

Grace added in her post, “I trust [my friend] to breastfeed my baby because she breastfeeds her own.”

As one commenter pointed out on the second video, “people forget that they did this a lot throughout history. Some moms couldn’t produce back then so there were wet nurses.”

A wet nurse is a lactating woman who breastfeeds a child who is not her own. According to the National Library of Medicine, wet nursing was the safest and most common alternative to the natural mother's breastmilk before the invention of bottles, formula and breast pumps. The profession has a heartbreaking history, however, as it was common practice for enslaved black women to be forced to be wet nurses to their owners' children.

According to 2019 research by the American Academy of Pediatrics, informal sharing of breast milk is popular once again, as parents turn to mothers and friends for breast milk instead of milk banks. But there are safety concerns, including risks of potential spreading disease or exposure to medications, alcohol, illegal drugs or other contaminants.

More than 50% of 650 mothers who responded anonymously to a survey shared on Facebook said they did not have any safety concerns about the informally donated breast milk, and almost 80% did not medically screen the donors because they "trusted them."

"It is therefore crucial that physicians become aware of this practice and the associated risks so that they can educate patients and address this growing concern,” Nikita Sood, researcher at Cohen Children's Medical Center/Northwell Health in New York, said in the study.

The FDA recommends that if, after consultation with a healthcare provider, you decide to feed your baby with human milk from a source other than yourself, you should only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its breastmilk.

“There are human milk banks that take voluntary steps to screen milk donors, and safely collect, process, handle, test, and store the milk,” the FDA writes. “In a few states, there are required safety standards for such milk banks. FDA has not been involved in establishing these voluntary guidelines or state standards. You can contact your state’s department of health to find out if it has information on human milk banks in your area. Another source of information is the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), a voluntary professional association for human milk banks.”

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