Motherhood is many things. But there’s one aspect of the role which everyone can agree on. Being a mother is one of the more difficult roles in our lives. That’s one of the reasons why new mothers often seek help from their own parents. It’s quite common for children to grow up with the help of both mother and grandmother. The maternal bonds between multiple generations have been celebrated since antiquity. The modern era has even produced many new takes on this ancient dynamic. Technology, rapid transit, and even healthy lifestyle options have changed how women can work together to raise the newest members of their families. But one mother-daughter duo has created a new way of tackling a common chore. And many people are having trouble making much sense of it.
Julia Cannons is a 21-year-old mother living in St. Louis, Missouri while taking care of her 10-month-old child – Naomi. Julia is receiving some unique help from her own mother, Angela Owen. At 47, Julia is young enough to still raise children of her own. And in fact, when Naomi was born Angela was still breastfeeding a child of her own. And this is where things become a little complicated. Naomi has a habit called cluster feeding. It’s a practice where a baby prefers to drink a massive amount of milk all at once rather than a little bit over an extended period of time. This can quickly deplete a lactating woman’s reserves. What’s more, Naomi also prefers to stay latched on even when not taking in any milk. Cannons describes the behavior as a matter of comfort. And this certainly isn’t a strange idea. Babies aren’t just looking after their physical health when they breastfeed. The practice also strengthens the bond between mother and child. However, the combination of these two traits left Cannons with a serious problem. She was having trouble keeping up with milk production. The new mother also found herself pressed for time since Namoi wanted to stay latched on 24/7. Naturally, Julia thought of her own mom when considering babysitters. Angela was happy to help out and spend some time with her new grandchild. At one point when Naomi was four months old, the two women came to a realization.
Naomi’s feeding practices mean that she drinks a huge amount of milk all at once. Meanwhile, Angela’s lactation has featured a marked overproduction of milk. The two elements seemed like a perfect match. A woman with too much milk seems like an ideal solution to the problem of a baby with greater than average needs. Angela points out that this has given her a chance for some much-needed sleep. Not to mention that she can finally get a little extra time to replenish her own caloric stock in order to produce more milk for Naomi. However, the practice is certainly unusual within the context of modern society. The pair point out that this wasn’t always the case though. Having a wet nurse was quite common throughout most of history. Angela has also made a point of getting a full medical checkup to verify that she’s in great health and can match the additional physical strain necessitated by lactation. And it’s clear that things are going well. The duo has been teaming up for breastfeeding duty for about six months. Angela describes it as a great way to bond with her grandchild. And Julia is happy for the help. It’s true that some people find it a little odd. But at the same time, many mothers have mentioned being quite envious.