If breast is best, why should gay dads have to settle for giving their kids the bottle? That’s the thinking that has led one French nurse to offer her services as a surrogate breast feeder.
An advert, published on e-loue.com by a 29 year-old woman who self identifies as a nurse, is in French but a rough translation reads:
“I am a young mother in good health… and I’m renting out my breasts for breastfeeding infants. I’m in the Paris region and I can offer up to a dozen feeds a day for your baby. Gay men in couples are not able to breastfeed…. Breastfeeding helps babies be healthier because breast milk gives babies complete nutrition.”
The woman is offering this service for 100 Euros or $134 a day.
It is illegal to sell breast milk in France and all breast milk expressed for other purposes than feeding one’s own children must go through what is effectively a milk bank.
However, the woman is offering a service rather than simply a product. Furthermore, it appears she intends this service to be delivered “in-person,” as it were. Therefore she would appear to have circumvented the ban.
Indeed, owners of e-loue.com have consulted with the site’s lawyers to be confident that this does not violate any laws. Legal opinion remains divided on this and in particular whether this service violates milk screening procedures and poses a risk to public health.
Nevertheless the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, says she’s had quite a few responses, though not always of the kind she had hoped for.
“I’ve received more than a dozen requests, but only half of them were serious. The rest were from perverts,” she is quoted as saying.
The notion of wet nurses is not a new one, but ones that specifically cater for the children of male same-sex couples is something new for France, and carries all the same loaded worries. Given the violence and heated Religious Right demonstrations that occurred up to and even after France legalized marriage equality and same-sex parent adoptions a few months ago, this act has received perhaps even more attention from the press.
It has even prompted the website’s owners to tell the press the young woman offering her services is not passing judgment one way or the other with regards to the gay marriage issue — though, presumably, she has no overt objection to same-sex couples rearing children.
Alexandra Woog of e-loue.com is quoted as saying “She has no political message to deliver. This is a true service rendered, a sort of modernization of the role of the wet nurse.”
He has, however, advised the woman to be careful because the ad obviously could make her a target for possible abuse or even physical danger. This apparently isn’t the first time this kind of issue has arisen in France.
The International Business Times reports that in 2011, a number of attempts were made to source breast milk through Facebook.
This prompted Professor Jean-Charles Picaud of the French Association of Human Milk Banks, and Professor Pierre-Henri Jarreau, president of the French Society of Neonatalogy, to issue a joint statement that explained the dangers of obtaining milk in this manner, saying ”These risks are mainly infectious, because the milk can be contaminated by bacteria or viruses.”
It would be easy for this story to be an empty and salacious one, but it has provoked a number of talking points, not least of which are that it is up to the woman in question what she does with her body (within legal bounds) and the health concerns and benefits surrounding offering such a service.
Wet nurses are now often considered a throwback to bourgeois parenting, but this e-loue service provider has managed to earn international column inches for her pointing out that there still may be a need for such services.
Could this create a revival of wet nurses, or perhaps even spark an extended relationship between male same-sex couples and surrogate mothers? It’s too soon to guess, but it certainly provides an interesting set of talking points.
Image credit: Thinkstock.