A mother of two from Orlando, Florida, has breastfed 12 children, most of whom are not her own.
Lee Moffitt, 26, and her sister both nurse each other's babies, reports the Daily Mail. Lee has also nursed the children of several friends.
Moffitt herself was breastfed until age 5, and believes it is the most natural way of nurturing children. When she had her first daughter, Rose, she decided to let the child decide when she wanted to be weaned. “I left it up to Rose, to decide when she wanted to stop,” Moffitt says.
“Rose started weaning off the breast at around the age of 4, but it was a slow process until she stopped completely,” she explains. At age 6, Rose finally called it quits. As Moffitt notes: “That's the age when children don't latch on anymore, because their adult teeth have started to grow. Therefore, I've always viewed it as the natural cut off age.”
The World Health Organization is ambiguous on the matter, recommending breastfeeding “to two years or beyond.”
A spokesperson for the breastfeeding support group La Leche League GB said: “There is no research which shows that breastfeeding beyond infancy is in any way harmful. On the contrary, breast milk maintains nutritional value as well emotional benefits however old a baby is and compliments and boosts the immune system.”
As for “wet nursing” the children of other mothers, Moffitt believes it creates “an amazing bond with children and helps with the primal bond you have with other women, allowing you to share in motherhood.” Her husband, Joseph, agrees that it is “amazing.”
“Even with children I've only breastfed once,” Moffitt adds, “I feel touched that I've helped them grow and feel motherly towards them.” The La Leche League spokesperson, said, “Throughout history mothers in many cultures have informally shared their breast milk and at times sharing milk has been lifesaving.”
Wet nursing was once so common that Jane Austen mentions it in her 1815 novel “Emma,” explains Gabrielle Palmer, lecturer in human nutrition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. "For years it was a really good job for a woman. In 17th- and 18th-century Britain a woman would earn more money as a wet nurse than her husband could as a laborer. And if you were a royal wet nurse you would be honored for life."
But not everyone agrees, as Lee has been called “gross, weird, disgusting and sick” for her breastfeeding practices. “I've had perverts saying inappropriate things,” she says. “The problem is some people see breastfeeding as sexual. But I get more supportive comments than negative ones.”