Bet you did not see this one coming …..

I am not quite sure how to explain this phenomena without posting the issue in the words of the mother who was effected/traumatized/left stunned:-

I feel so betrayed because I trusted my nanny with my kids, little boy (2.7yrs) and
little girl (7months).

Last week I found her breast-feeding my little girl and I still feel
traumatized by the thought that she might have infected my little girl with HIV.

Of course I took little girl for HIV testing the same day and gave my nanny an hour to get out of my house, but I feel like I will never be able to trust another nanny with
my kids again.

I don’t even trust crèche teachers at this stage.  But what can I do
because I have to work and my job has a lot of travelling involved.

I feel so stressed and depressed right now. Please give me any advise on  what  I can do from this point.

Instinctively you will want to go back and re-read it as, if your brain is in any way programmed like mine, is going “What the Fuck!”

You might even say it several times over and then think “what!?”

It actually does not get any easier to absorb no matter how many times you try and take it in.

I could not  wrap my head around this.  Where in any women’s mind would it be okay to “breastfeed” another women’s child?  How ignorant must you be?  How totally removed from …. I don’t know ….. everything must you be to go “this is a super idea.”

The mom in question had stopped breast-feeding her daughter when her little girl  was 4 months old.  But as the little girl is now 7 months old and took the breast, the thinking unfortunately is too frightening to begin to imagine.

When I picked myself up off the floor from the rather dazed state I was in after absorbing this – it appears that this phenomena is not as “wildly” uncommon as my “suburban mind” is assuming.

Nope, if someone is looking after your baby and baby is upset and nothing is working, then said person often things “well, I got milk, and baby needs to be soothed, so let’s pop my nipple into baby’s mouth.”

Two other moms said they had heard of this occurring before and though they were horrified that it occured they were not as shocked as I was, as it “happens”.

Officially a total WHAT THE FUCK MOMENT?!!!

My point here (and I think there could be so many things we could say on this but I am going to leave it to this one) is if you left me for 50 years interviewing and hiring nannies to assist moms with newborns or young babies, and I would NEVER have thought to say “oh, my baby is being breastfed, I just want you to know in no uncertain terms that if you put your nipple anywhere near my child I will kill you – and not quickly.  I will kill you slowly and painfully and bury your body so no one will ever find you!  Okay, so we clear on that?  Anything else you need to know about the position?”

Not an issue that I would have covered in any interview, ever – no matter how many times I had interviewed or reference checked someone.

Ever.

But this it appears might be one I will suggest you add to your list if you are interviewing someone who has recently had a baby — you know, just because she could slip and her nipple could land in your newborn’s mouth.

Freaking unbelievable.  (or am I the only one who has just had the bejesus scared into them?)

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30 Comments

  1. pamiejane

     /  July 5, 2011

    I have heard of this happening before and was stressing about it happening to us. I specifically got a nanny whose kids where a bit older so I knew she was not breastfeeding them. Especially because of HIV. I did raise the issue with her as well and tell her it was NOT to happen.

    Maybe the concept is not so wierd to me as my mom acted as a wet nurse to one of our neighbours kids. My brother and that little girl where the same age and the neighbour had to go back into hospital. My mom just breastfed both kids.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  July 5, 2011

      I think the idea of a wet nurse is not that weird …. however as you said it comes with consent and not finding a person with your child suckling their nipple …….

      Reply
  2. Tanya

     /  June 17, 2011

    Interesting article & comments. To be honest I read thinking that the reactions were a tad hysterical for my taste, feeling sure that the nanny in question meant no harm and knowing that it is, in fact, quite common among more traditional cultures for cross breast feeding to take place. “It takes a village”, is an approach I tried to learn from as a single mother. No, I didn’t allow other people to breastfeed my child, but I did rely on other people to fill gaps in my child’s upbringing by using their talents where I possessed none – such as “crafts”, teaching her to surf, budget ! 🙂 etc.
    To me the risk of HIV transmission is the real issue, and I am thankful to be too old to have to deal with the challenges of employing nannies and having them HIV screened before contracting or however the hell one copes with these issues.
    But I still have a recurring fantasy in my head, one where we manage to fit in the best of old, traditional village approach to raising children into our modern lives. You know, a world without HIV, paedophiles, plain old psychopaths…..
    Oops, I just woke up and my coffee was cold…..

    Reply
  3. Scared & Imperfect Mother

     /  June 10, 2011

    Shocked! Feeling a bit sick! Think I did get a bit sick in my mouth! Yes RM first question on interview list.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 10, 2011

      Totally …. who would have known before this moment ….. er, not me.

      Reply
  4. O my Word!!!! — WTF!!!! I’m so sorry for that mom! I am so glad that I never had to leave my kids with someone else when they were that little. It’s horrifying! But then again, if I had been in the situation where I had to do that I too would have been totally clueless about something like that ever happening! Now my mind is just racing thinking about what else can/could happen!!

    Reply
  5. That’s a scary thought!!!
    I would probably need some trauma counselling if I had to find out anyone was BF my kids. What a cheek.

    Reply
  6. I am shocked, flabbergasted, disgusted, paranoid, angry and totally devoid of any other proper words to express how I am feeling now.
    What that mom must be going through is nothing short of agony! My heart goes out to her!
    What gave that nanny the right to do that? I wouldve lost all sense of common decency and physically attacked her! The thought of someone doing that brings with it such anger that I haven’t felt in ages. I try generally to keep my blind rage at bay as it leads to unhealthy circumstances. But this makes me completely irrational!
    You are right Celeste, I would not have thought to ask that question either.
    I think I should go make a cuppa coffee now and have a ciggie just to compose myself. I’m upset beyond words. Not only for the mother but for the other ladies who have gone through something similar. My heart bleeds for them.

    Reply
  7. Tammy

     /  June 9, 2011

    My friend recently went off to a wedding, leaving her breastfed newborn with an aunt a short walk away from the venue. Went back at feedtime to find her (50-something-year-old, post menopausal) aunt with her nipple in the baby’s mouth because she said the dummy wasn’t working to soothe her?!! WTF?? And, without trying to sound all full ot shite and classist – these are wealthy, well-educated, outwardly rational people. I don’t understand it at all. I really don’t.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      Okay, Tammy has officially taken the cake, when I did not think the cake was possible to be taken further than it has been today.

      Went back at feedtime to find her (50-something-year-old, post menopausal) aunt with her nipple in the baby’s mouth

      Excuse, me while I vomit a bit out the side of my mouth ….

      Reply
      • You are lucky that your vomit went out the side of your mouth……I just threw up a little inside mine.

        The more I read this story, the more unbelievable it seems.

        Reply
      • alittlelessfluff

         /  June 9, 2011

        Having lunch. gag!

        Reply
  8. I would have found it totally shocking if it was not for the incidence a few years ago where a nurse was caught breastfeeding babies in hospital. Kid you not!

    Reply
  9. I am utterly and totally speachless. I had to go back and re-read that section quite a couple of times before my brain would actually register what it was reading.

    It just seems so unbelievable that someone would do that!

    Total WTF!!! Just…..NO!!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      You have had the EXACT same reaction I did …. welcome to the Land of the Ignorant, presently I am the Prime Minister …….. you can take up a cabinet minister position ……

      Reply
  10. Sharon

     /  June 9, 2011

    WTF???? What???
    The mental image alone is enough to make want to race home and go spy on my nanny!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      I know, it is such a broach of trust on such a blatant and basic level ……..

      Reply
  11. Wow…. um. sho! I think what is bugging me is that the nanny in question did this without asking – she just took it into her own hands. I get that in certain cultures in this country this may be perfectly normal. I also don’t have a huge issue with babies getting milk that is not their own mothers, in cases like when the baby’s mom dies at birth or is prem or something. But it is a HUGE difference for a 7 month old, when we live in a city where access to good formulas is plentiful, and the baby is also weaning onto solids.

    (I wanted to become a breastmilk donor, but when I went back to work I was only able to make enough for my own so). However, for that you are carefully screened, and you make sure you are healthy, not drinking and getting the correct nutrition. In this case you have NO idea what the nanny did on her time off.)

    But regardless, nobody has the right to do anything other than what the mother wants for feeding her baby.

    I reckon the woman should have forced the nanny to get an HIV test too… as it can lie dormant for 6 months after infection, so the test on the baby is inconclusive.

    I also would never have thought to check this with a nanny. But I will definitely remember to now!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      I agree, if the mother agreed and the correct measures were in place (i.e. permission/HIV screening) or what ever, then fine. But to do it without consent and in the face of such medical risks to the child is where the “amazement” comes from.

      Reply
    • Memo

       /  June 10, 2011

      Exactly!

      Reply
  12. Wow, I’ll put this on my list of things to watch out for when my baby comes, I’ve been stressing about finding a nanny or sending my child to day care. This scares me even more.

    Reply
  13. I have heard of this happening, and am always paranoid. I’ve had the same domestic for like 5 years, and she is awesome. I stopped breastfeeding Noah at 8 weeks and had to go back to work half day. The nanny was really upset as she breastfed her boy for 2 years. Every day I got home, I would count the empty bottles in the sink and check the drop in the tin of formula to make sure that Noah was getting formula and not her breast milk. I would rush to change his nappies to make sure the consistency of the stools were “formula like”.
    I was paranoid, because this happens. More often than we think.
    Some women are really set on breastfeeding opposed to formula, and if you put your kid on formula, they are likely to take matters in to their own breasts out of the “best interest of the child”.
    They don’t think that they’re doing anything wrong.

    Scary.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      Why has no one ever mentioned this before? I feel like I am the ugly cousin that no one told ……. I cannot believe this is as common as it is …. I am mortified. I get that there used to be wet nurses, but that was 100 -200 years ago, but clearly not as “bizarre and uncommon” as I led myself to believe.

      I never would have thought to check this with a domestic or a nanny, never would have crossed my mind…… ever.

      Reply
      • Nobody really mentioned it to me. I saw it in a movie once.. that one “The hand that rocks the Cradle” or something. About a crazy nanny that wants to steal the baby. She breastfed the baby in secret, to the point that the baby turned away his own mother’s milk. Since then, I was decidedly paranoid.

        Reply
      • I have a very open relationship with my Nanny. She is Zimbabwean and my age and we have lots of chats. I just spoke to her about this post and she is completely shocked. Keeps walking around the house going “Oh my god.. eish.. oh my god…yoh..”
        We were trying to find a reason for a nanny to do this. She says the cultural element doesn’t really come in to play. I asked her about maybe wanting to soothe a fussy baby and she says but bottles and dummies work the same as a breast.
        As a nanny and a mother, she says she can’t find a reason for someone to do this. She doesn’t understand. The first thing she raised was the HIV element and the dangers behind it.
        She did say to her, breast is better than formula, but “Not for someone else’s baby Tasha” It’s a personal choice that a mother makes and it is no place for someone else to interfere.
        I think the safest solution is to find a nanny that respects your personal mothering choices. I don’t know how you screen someone for that.. but that’s that.

        Reply
  14. Tania

     /  June 9, 2011

    HIV infection would scare me. Not quite sure how I feel on the breastfeeding bit.

    Reply
  15. Romaine

     /  June 9, 2011

    This is not uncommon to me at all, I often hear people saying that is my child’s milk mother.(messed up I tell you) I however would completely freak if I should be in this situation, we had a live in Nanny when Morgan was 4months old and I returned to work and this was always my biggest fear, I actually really suspected my nanny of doing this and I believe in a 6th sense. I hated being at work and eventually let her go after 3weeks, I just couldn’t let the feeling go.This is horrifying and I can only imagine how this mother felt.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  June 9, 2011

      Officially freaking out — I had NEVER heard or this as a phenomena until this week. Where the hell have I been?

      Reply
  16. Absolutely shocking!!!!!

    Reply

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