Selma Hayek, Cross Nursing and Carrie

February 13, 2009

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

A couple of days ago a reporter from ABC News called me to ask my thoughts on the whole Selma Hayek cross nursing an African baby thing.

Cross/wet nursing is controversial enough, but throw in a pair of award winning celebrity ta-tas and everyone is listening.selma hayek cross nursing

You can see some of the things I said to her here: Selma Hayek breastfeeding another woman’s child.

Among other things, I told the reporter that calling Selma “unfaithful” is ridiculous. If any mother saw a toddler fall down on the sidewalk and cut open her knees, and mom wasn’t around, she would pick that child up and offer her comfort.

Is that unfaithful?

Using that kind of language just harkens back to the cultural (and I said cultural on the phone, not culturally – not that I’m complaining) misunderstanding that exists about breastfeeding being somehow sexual.

Breastfeeding is intimate.
Breastfeeding is the end result of being sexual (because it completes the cycle of fertility that starts with ovulation, then copulation, then birth).
Breastfeeding feels good. (Or at least it should.)

But breastfeeding doesn’t have any more to do with sex than hugging does. Hugging my 10, 8 and 6 year old children isn’t sexual.

It’s just mothering.

I don’t hug my kids “for myself” once they get past a certain age.

I’ve talked before on this blog about my thoughts on cross nursing and wet nursing, and also mentioned to the reporter that I was personally cross nursed by the mother of a friend of mine. I was 5 days old and my mom had to go back in the hospital for observation. My Mom called her local La Leche League group and moms sent bottles of expressed milk over.

But, I wouldn’t take the bottles.

I’m sure my Dad was pretty terrified, with this tiny infant and his beloved wife in a hospital bed. Thankfully my mom’s friend was able to come over and breastfeed me during that time. Who knows what might have happened? I might have starved myself for two days in some kind of newborn baby depression and shock.

This morning I told my Mom about the story, and she reminded me that she also cross nursed a baby – a childhood friend of mine.

Apparently her mother’s milk was taking a long time to increase postpartum. (Some moms take a week for their milk to “come in”, there is nothing magical about the 3 days postpartum timeframe, it’s just typical for most women.)

Anyway, little Jennifer seemed to be starving and was screaming her head off, so my mom’s friends asked her to come over and feed her. Jennifer’s mother’s milk finally did come in and they had a happy nursing relationship for a long time. But, I wonder if my mother hadn’t done that, would the stress of the experience caused her mom to just give up and offer bottles?

Cross nursing has its place, even in our modern society.

I also told the reporter that (and she was so cute because she’s never had kids so didn’t know what I was talking about) when a lactating woman hears another baby cry – ANY baby – her body responds accordingly. It’s just a natural thing, like the empathy you might feel if you see an older child fall down at the playground. All the moms come running, especially if the real mom can’t help at that moment.

(Some of the babies at Blissdom had this effect on me. You know who you are.)

I bet that a lot of women, in that situation, would have done the same thing. I certainly would have. We just wouldn’t be the number one video on YouTube. Noone would be the wiser.

When I was still married and had young babies, I had my ex husband swear that he would find a nursing mother to feed my baby if I ever were to land in a hospital and were unable to offer that familiar comfort to my infant. Just knowing that he would have done that made me feel better.

Watch the video and look at the happiness on that baby’s face. Tell me there’s something wrong about that.

Tell me how you feel about this story.

Would you cross nurse another woman’s baby if she asked you? Would you want another woman to nurse your child?

photo credit

More Posts By Carrie:


14 Responses to “Selma Hayek, Cross Nursing and Carrie”

  1. Christie on February 13th, 2009 12:50 pm

    Carrie, that is a great post. We are having a baby by gestational surrogate in May and I cannot induce lactation because of some meds I am on. Our amazing surro is going to pump for the baby and several other friends have offered to as well. I feel so blessed to have such wonderful women sharing their milk with my baby. I would not feel uncomfortable with someone else breastfeeding my baby, I would feel so grateful that they loved me and my baby give that precious gift. I can’t believe that anyone would have a negative reaction to this, it is nature people!!

    Christie :)

  2. April on February 13th, 2009 12:54 pm

    I wouldn’t even hesitate. I think its a perfectly natural thing and I think its awesome that Salma Hayek felt the same way.

  3. elizabeth ashe on February 13th, 2009 1:38 pm

    Same as April, i would suckle every child that needed if I was in her position.

  4. casual friday everyday on February 13th, 2009 4:28 pm

    Fabulous post. Fabulous article. Really informative and beautiful. I’m in awe that Selma did this too. She seems like a real real chick…just like you!


  5. Felicia - I Complete Me on February 13th, 2009 4:33 pm

    Now that I am a mom and I no longer breastfeed I think I would cross nurse if asked. At first I didn’t know what to think about it, but food is food who ever makes it right? As I watched the video all I could think of was nursing my little man, it brought tears to my eyes because I miss nursing him. I enjoyed it so much, but being at work and not having a good breast pump reduced my milk production. Then he got sick and wouldn’t nurse because of a stuff nose, so I dried up. My baby is 6 months and I wanted to nurse until he at least grew in teeth. But what can one do? I loved it, enjoyed it and I did what I could.

  6. Sharon on February 13th, 2009 7:27 pm

    I would definitely nurse another mother’s child! I always seemed to have too much milk when my milk first came in, and I looked into milk donation. Then, I realized there were a lot of protocols, and my supply eventually evened out.

    I haven’t kept up with Ms. Hayek over the years. To me, in the photo you posted, she doesn’t look like a “movie star.” She looks like a motherly mother, nursing a baby. It’s only natural for a woman to want to nurture.

  7. FoodRenegade on February 15th, 2009 12:55 am

    Ah, where’s the diversity of opinion here? I also wouldn’t hesitate if a child was hungry! Wet nurses have been around for centuries. And in recent centuries, they were actually considered the more “sanitary” option. (Thanks to Victorian husbands wishing to produce more heirs and a strange notion among the elite that breastfeeding was “beneath” them.) Anyhow, wet nursing has been around as long as people have been around. So, I see no problem other than a strange, overreacting populace.

  8. Charlotte on February 15th, 2009 6:33 pm

    That was a very sweet video, that baby was obviously hungry and then was so obviously satisfied. The question of “cheating” on your own baby by breastfeeding another baby is laughable. And I haven’t nursed in almost a year and I still get the let down feeling in my breasts when I hear babies cry. Maybe it just never goes away.

  9. Jeannette on February 16th, 2009 2:44 pm

    Would you cross nurse another woman’s baby if she asked you? Would you want another woman to nurse your child?

    Yes! and Yes!

  10. Sharon on February 16th, 2009 7:03 pm

    Beautiful post Carrie. I know when I had my first born 18 years ago the breastfeeding advice I received from well meaning but misguided women (included my dear mom) caused me to give up after 6 weeks. I felt such pressure from others that somehow I was “starving her” that I gave up. Now I’m a pretty informed person and had all kinds of natural mothering books on my bedside table…but I still caved.

    When I had my son 2 years later I received better advice and nursed him for almost a year. Too bad blogs weren’t around when I had my first…I would have read yours and given my daughter nutritious breast milk.

    Good post and I would definitely cross nurse another woman’s baby if asked.

  11. Marcie Macari on February 17th, 2009 9:12 am

    Ahh…..well here’s an interesting thought-most of the comments here were about would we breastfeed another mother’s baby, which for most attachment mothers is a no-brainer. If we knew if was fine with the other mom….But what about your baby being nursed by another-For me, breastfeeding is very personal and intimate. I probably would NOT be comfortable with a stranger breastfeeding my baby-mostly because of the possibility of transmission of disease or drugs through breastmilk. But I absolutely would welcome a dear friend’s offer to breastfeed my baby were I not able to!

    A friend of mine both had babies around 6-9 months old, and we were going to a babyshower for a relative of mine. I was not feeling comfortable, since most of the people coming to the shower would be very very mainstream, and slightly judgemental of my parenting philosophy….

    Well, to reassure me, my friend said-don’t worry, if it gets really stuffy, we’ll trade babies and breastfeed and THAT will keep ‘em talking for awhile! LOL

    Great discussion….:)

    I’d love to see an organization put together breastmilk donations from us in North America, to send to AIDS babies, or Orphans in Africa-would it be wonderful to know your milk was being used to sustain and heal small babies! And at least we could be very sure that no “charity” was using the milk for its own purposes!!! LOL (Instead of moolah-) Sorry to ramble…lots of thoughts!

  12. Candace Novakowski on February 17th, 2009 4:29 pm

    I would most definatly nurse another child and I would definatly let someone else nurse my child if need be. Bless her for doing that for that child. What a wonderful gesture!!!

  13. Monica on February 18th, 2009 8:52 am

    I’ve done and I will if the other mother asks. I believe Salma Hayek was so urged to nursing that baby as we all nursing mamas would’ve been.

  14. Keloquence on July 10th, 2009 5:59 pm

    I am very new to and so grateful to have found it! Today while my still nursing son (nearly 2yrs.) slept for his nap I took full advantage of my ‘break’ time to tool around the site. I came upon the Selma Hayek blog and video…
    Tears are still streaming down my face as I recall watching the video and reading the blog. I believe so deeply that breastfeeding should be the foundation of all children’s lives! Knowing how healthy and confident my son is from his nearly 2 years of it and how the children from the video are being deprived of it for cultural beliefs lays heavy on my heart. I would gladly except another breastfeeding mother to nurse my son if I were unable as well as gladly offer to do the same for another child in need were the circumstances to arrive.
    To me nursing is best by the mother not only for nutrition but for bonding/nurturing. However I recognize that there are events or issues that arise not allowing for some women provide for their child. In my opinion it is worth any cost to acquire breastmilk even for a short time, for an infant. If the best or only way to offer that supplemental breastmilk is from another nursing mother then so be it! I only hope to see more videos and blogs discussing these ideas so that more people in our culture can not only continue to ‘normalize’ breastfeeding itself but the idea of supplementing an infant with the gift of a loving mother who shares her milk straight from the breast itself.

Got something to say?