Wet nurse

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A wet nurse is a woman who nurses a baby that is not her own. A wet nurse may be employed if the birth mother of a baby is unable to breast-feed her infant for a variety of reasons. Some reasons may include the use of certain drugs (prescription or illegal), illness, or inoperative breasts. Wet nurses have also been required following multiple births where the mother has proved incapable of adequately nursing all of the children herself.

In the past, members of higher classes would have their children wet-nursed. This is an outgrowth of an old tradition -- noblewomen would not breast-feed, and could become pregnant again sooner, to ensure an heir, if they were not nursing their infants.

Some women would become pregnant in times when wet nurses were still in use. Once the children were born, they would kill the child (infanticide)and then capitalize off of their lactating abilities.

Through the recent widespread availability of infant formula, wet nurses are not needed in developed nations and, therefore, are not common in such countries. The use of a wet nurse is still a common practice in many developing countries.

Though it is not widely known in developed countries, a woman who has never been pregnant may produce milk. Through frequent stimulation of the areolae and nipples, a woman may begin lactating and, therefore, be able to nurse. This ability also enables women who have previously been pregnant to nurse children to whom they did not give birth.de:Amme

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