A mother by the name of JC wrote in to Essential Baby describing this very situation. She was the mother who breastfed her bestfriend's baby. (View that article here.) Her friend was not pleased. In fact, she was obviously so annoyed with what JC did, she cut off all contact with her, and JC has been unable to speak with her about it since.
JC's belief is that this was no big deal. She felt her friend's baby was hungry, and as she was breastfeeding herself at the time, she thought it fine to feed her friend's baby.
Now, my personal opinion on this is that, whilst I love my friends, and I love to share much of my life with them, I'm not too keen on the idea of one of them (no offence gals) feeding any baby of mine. (And I'm quite sure the feeling's mutual.) It's just not my thing. Breastfeeding to me is such a personal experience between mother and child. And worse, if a friend of mine chose to breastfeed my child without asking me, I'd be incredibly unhappy that she had taken it upon herself to make such a decision to do so. (Ok - if we were shipwrecked on a deserted island and I got eaten by a shark, I'd be quite happy if my friend kept my baby alive by feeding him, but it would have to be that sort of extreme case to make it ok!)
And what about milk banks? Milk banks provide milk to mothers who cannot provide their own breast milk to their newborn babies. Donors are well screened to ensure that the milk is safe, as there are some diseases that can be transferred from mother to baby through breast milk. Would I use a milk bank? I don't think I would. I'm not sure I would be comfortable with it. Besides, formula is so well formulated these days. However, if I had a very premature baby, and my doctor advised me strongly to use it, I would consider it. At the end of the day, what's best for my child is the main thing. Would I donate milk? No. But that's mainly because I could never express. I detested it! I didn't like how it felt, and I could never seem to get much out anyway. So, I just didn't go out when my boys were very young! What do I think of milk banks? Well, I think they're great. If there are people out there who are willing to donate their milk, and there are mothers who would be grateful for their donation...kudos to them!
And that's the thing. If two friends were fine with breastfeeding each other's baby - great, go for it, get the girls out and feed away. It's just not for me.
A girl I used to work with years ago told me a story once which, although fascinating, even amazing, left me feeling a little squeamish. And I hadn't even had my own children yet. It goes like this (I've changed her name and some details here)...
Louise was a twin. One day she was at her music lesson, and she and her music teacher were talking about when she was born etc and they realised during that conversation that both Louise's mum and the music teacher were in the same hospital at the same time with newborn babies. Louise's teacher suddenly realised something quite amazing. She explained to Louise that she had been in the nursery one night during her stay in hospital, and had noticed twin girls there. One of them was crying, and since no one else seemed to be attending to the child at the time, and having an ample supply of milk herself, she picked the crying twin up and breastfed her to soothe her (this would have occurred during the 70s). Therefore, it's quite possible that Louise or her sister were breastfed by Louise's music teacher.
Louise didn't seem fazed at all about this story, and in fact, felt she'd always had a special connection with her music teacher. And that's the thing. Some will have a very different view point on this kind of thing to me. For me, there are just some things that cross the line with other people's kids, and this is one of them.
But that's just me. Read the article, let me know what you think. I'm all ears...
Until next time...