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Cross-Nursing: Risks and Safe Alternatives


Cross-nursing, or cross-feeding, is a practice in which a woman offers her breast milk to another woman’s child. Learn more about it in this article!

Breastfeeding is a special moment of connection and nourishment between mothers and babies, providing numerous health benefits for the child. However, in some cases, there may be a need to seek alternatives to meet the newborn’s nutritional needs. 

In this context, the practice known as “cross-nursing” has been widely discussed. However, it’s important to highlight that it is contraindicated by health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

In this article, we will explore what cross-nursing is, the risks it can present to the baby’s health, and offer some safe alternatives to ensure proper nutrition.

What is Cross-Nursing?

Cross-nursing, or cross-feeding, is a practice in which a woman offers her breast milk to another woman’s child. In some cases, this can occur for various reasons, such as the mother not producing enough milk, being ill, or facing difficulties in breastfeeding.

Although breast milk is extremely beneficial for the baby’s health, cross-nursing is contraindicated by health organizations due to the risks involved.

Download Kinedu and access classes by experts in breastfeeding, introduction to solids, and many other important topics for parents!

Risks of Cross-Nursing

The transmission of infectious diseases is the main concern related to cross-nursing. HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C, HTLV, and chickenpox are examples of diseases that can be transmitted through contaminated breast milk. Exposure to these viruses and bacteria can lead to significant risks of death or illness in infants.

Additionally, some medications used by the breastfeeding woman can also be transferred through the milk, harming the baby’s health. Therefore, cross-nursing is a practice that poses serious risks to the newborn’s health and should be avoided.

Is There Such a Thing as Weak Breast Milk?

Another common misconception associated with cross-nursing is the idea of weak breast milk. It’s important to clarify that breast milk is the ideal food for babies up to six months of age, as it meets all nutritional needs and provides protection against infections and diseases.

The appearance and quantity of milk produced may vary, but this doesn’t indicate that the milk is weak. If you have any concerns or doubts about breastfeeding, it’s essential to seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

Safe Alternatives to Meet the Baby’s Nutritional Needs

Fortunately, there are safe alternatives to meet the baby’s nutritional needs when direct breastfeeding is not possible. One option is the use of human milk banks.

Women who produce excess milk can donate to these banks, where the milk is properly analyzed and pasteurized, ensuring its safety. The donated milk is then distributed to babies who cannot be breastfed by their biological mothers, thus ensuring proper and risk-free nutrition.

The Importance of Medical Supervision

It’s crucial for mothers to receive medical supervision during the prenatal stage, childbirth, and postpartum periods. Support and guidance during this time are essential to assist mothers who wish to breastfeed. Additionally, the guidance of a pediatrician  or lactation consultant can help resolve common issues that may arise during breastfeeding, such as improper latch, fissures, and breast infections.

Breastfeeding is a precious moment of care and nourishment, and by following the guidance of healthcare professionals, it’s possible to provide babies with the best possible start in life.

Now that you know more about cross-nursing, download the Kinedu app and continue learning about your child’s health and development through expert classes!

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