How does the concept of a wet nurse work? If continuously given a newborn while nursing a 2YO, does she continue to produce milk until there isn’t another baby?


I also know that a nursing woman’s body can adapt the milk to provide for what the baby needs, but how does that work when the newborn needs a ton of stuff and the 2 year old needs something specific?

(I’ve been reading a lot of historical fiction lately)

In: Biology

The medical knowledge of 200+ years ago didn’t know that newborns and 2 year olds had specific different nutritional needs beyond the understanding that a newborn could only drink milk and a 2 year old is old enough to eat solid food and be weaned. Milk was milk. And nutritional science is mostly a 20th century science.

Yes. As long as there is a baby that keeps nursing then the woman will continue to produce milk. As for the milk changing for the child’s needs it likely wouldn’t be as successful in the scenario you describe but that’s part of the deal.

In a perfect world the woman’s body would produce until the baby no longer needs it. And the wet nurses do the same or help supplement the mother. Like I don’t produce enough milk and everytime my milk would come in (after delivery) I was unable to produce and got an infection making the breast rock hard and unable to touch let alone feed. However the pediatrician just told me yesterday 2years old is a perfect time to wean.

In general mammals do produce milk as long as it is being used. In fact a pregnancy is not technically needed to start milk production but will make it much easier. This is how you hear of people being a wet nurse even after menopause and even some men being able to nurse babies. The nutrition in the milk will change over time but this is not so significant as to provide with any big issues. But it is usually a good idea to let the baby feed of their mother after birth, especially the first feeding but also for a few days after that as well.

Yes, it’s possible. If you talk with nursing mothers, though, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Milk can “dry up” for a variety of reasons. And you need to be persistent and nurse multiple times every day to keep that from happening. But in some women, the milk just dries up, anyway. Some women don’t produce enough milk while others produce lots.

Breast milk contains a hormone that stops/ reduces milk production. Removing the milk removes the hormone which then makes more milk! The more milk thats removed the more milk is produced. Once baby starts incorporating other foods into their diet, they need less milk so the weaning process works on the mother as well. It’s suggested that one pump the milk if baby is not hungry so as to maintain high milk production, but only to bottle feed as a last resort as sometimes a baby will refuse to return to the the breast afterwards (which is bad for mom and baby for a myriad of reasons, such as the nutritional catering you mentioned in your post, and it’s bad for mother baby bonding which is a can of worms in its own right)
The sound of a baby crying frequently induces lactation in women who are currently breastfeeding. Milk stains are quite common! Many women who have breastfed before, especially those who have breastfed multiple times, report feeling their breasts “starting to get to work/ getting ready” when they hear a baby crying even if they are no longer lactating at that point. OP might consider asking older female adults about this sensation and hearing their testimonies, but understanding that it varies from woman to woman. I am unsure of what the case is for geriatric women, but I assume that they would also remember if they had previously experienced this and if it eventually went away.