Two young mums who breastfeed each other’s children are encouraging other women to share their milk.
Stefani Tatavitto, 23, regularly feeds both her own 2-year-old son and her friend Chrystal Klein’s 19-month-old daughter while Chrystal works at a factory.
And when Stefani goes on a night out, Chrystal, also 23, returns the favour – nursing both tots as if they were her own.
The friends, from Connecticut, USA, met on Facebook five years ago, and started their unusual arrangement when Chrystal’s daughter, Ariana, was just 10 months old.
However, the shared nursing does cause problems for Stefani’s son Gage, who lashes out in jealousy when Ariana nurses from his mum.
Neither women’s partners are fazed by the wet nursing and although Stefani nurses Ariana in public, passersby are oblivious to the fact that the child isn’t her own.
Now Stefani breastfeeds Ariana up to six times a week.
Stefani, who also has a 4-year-old son, Noah, says: ‘I don’t think it’s shocking to nurse another woman’s child – breastfeeding is natural.
‘I think it helps Ariana, it keeps her calm and helps her when she’s teething. It’s a big comfort and helps keep her settled.
‘If anyone has a problem with it I have not nice words to say to them. You drink breast milk from animals, it’s not that weird to drink breast milk from another human.
‘I don’t care what anyone else has to say – we do what’s best for our families.’
Chrystal, who is also mum to Aiden, 5, says that she’s happy for Stefani to continue feeding her daughter until Ariana weans.
‘Because of Stefani wet nursing, I don’t need to pump milk for my daughter or worry about her not having any milk,’ says Chrystal. ‘It also makes me feel better to know that my daughter still has that comfort even while I am away from her.’
And despite the bond that comes with breastfeeding, Chrystal isn’t worried about Ariana becoming overly close to her friend.
‘I believe my daughter realises that I’m mommy and Stefani is just offering her milk,’ she says. ‘Whenever we are both with her and she wants milk, typically she will ask me to nurse.
‘I would say there are no drawbacks. I only see positive from this.’
Breastfeeding can spread infections, such as hepatitis and HIV, but Stefani and Chrystal trust each other and what they put in their bodies.
‘My partner was sceptical because she’s unsure about what Stefani is putting into her body. Not Stefani specifically but just anyone wet nursing her,’ says Chrystal.
‘But we know Stefani has a pretty well-balanced diet and she doesn’t smoke or drink. We were both pregnant at the same time and we were tested for infections and both of us were clear.
‘The fact that Ariana is getting milk from the tap, I mean that’s exactly how we should drink it.’