What is a Wet Nurse

A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeds someone else’s child for permanent basis. She is different from cross nurse and she is more reliable and responsible than a cross nurse.

Wet nurse or wet nursing is one of the most traditional activities that exist in the society till today. You must have read stories in your school days about any royal family or king in which a poor woman used to take care of the king’s child. This poor woman used to do everything for the child’s betterment and got some money for it. It even included breastfeeding the royal child as his real mother didn’t used to do these things. The woman who breastfeeds someone else’s child is called a wet nurse. She breastfeeds this child whenever he is hungry; hence she does it for permanent basis. As long as the child requires breastfeeding, she is the only woman to feed him with her own milk.

Many people confuse wet nursing with the term cross nursing but actually both the terms are different. Cross nursing is the condition when a woman feeds someone else’s child for temporary basis. It may also be the condition when more than one woman breastfeeds the same child for temporary basis. Some people generally categorize cross nursing as a part of wet nursing but these doubts should be cleared as both the term differs. In wet nursing, the woman generally takes care of the child till he crosses the age of 10 years. In 17th and 18th century, royal women didn’t breastfed their child because of two reasons. Firstly, they felt that other woman can do this job as a substitute of them. Secondly, they wanted to regain their fitness again so that they can get pregnant for more time.

The main reason why breastfeeding is important is that it provides excellent diet for a child. But as some women can’t breastfeed their own child due to some reasons, wet nurses are important. The main conditions when wet nurses come into work are when the real mother has died or is suffering from serious illness, mother is taking certain drugs, mother is unable to produce breast milk, mother wants to get pregnant again and mother has multiple small children so she wants wet nurses to feed them.

Wet nursing was very common since 17th century or even before as royal families started this trend. This gradually increased all over the world and people of almost all countries accepted this trend. But, in 1980’s people were aware of AIDS and they came to know that if a person who has AIDS breastfeeds a child then the child can also get affected by this deadly disease so wet nursing gradually decreased. Some countries have stopped wet nursing but there are few countries where this tradition is still going on.