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'What would happen to that baby?' Metro mom offering to help breastfeed others' babies during formula shortage

The Iowa Doula Agency recommends asking questions about someone's health and diet before utilizing a wet nurse.

DES MOINES, Iowa — As parents in central Iowa continue to search for baby formula, a metro woman is offering to become a wet nurse, or breastfeed, other children herself.

Rachel River, a mom of two with one being an infant, said being a wet nurse is one way she knew how to help during this difficult time. 

So far she has offered her services to parents on Facebook. No one has accepted her offer yet, but she gets a lot of people reaching out. 

The reason she decided to offer this alternative is that she knew it would prevent families from having to rummage around stores looking for a formula. 

She also knows sometimes babies don't want to drink from a bottle. 

"My baby does not like a bottle she won't take a bottle, so [I was thinking] if there was another baby out there who wouldn't take a bottle and their mother for some reason couldn't breastfeed, what would happen to that baby?" River said.

Local 5 reached out to the Iowa Department of Public Health to see if parents taking the route of using a wet nurse was safe. 

Sarah Ekstrand with IDPH sent the following statement: "Parents should use caution when using human milk from friends or family and consider the risks and benefits and talk with your child's doctor. "

Local 5 also reached out to the Iowa Doula Agency to find out what a parent considering this option should do. 

Owner Jill Kvinlaug said the parents need to create a checklist of things to ask the potential wet nurse: 

  • What's your diet?
  • Do you smoke?
  • Are you on medication?
  • Do you have a clean bill of health?

Kvinlaug said asking for a clean bill of health is important because there are diseases that can be transmitted through breast milk.

River said if a parent is not interested in her becoming a wet nurse for their kids, but would still like to use her for breast milk, she is willing to donate that. She is a stay-at-home mom, can be flexible as a wet nurse and is willing to take a blood test to verify her health.

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