There is no medical reason why women should not lactate indefinitely or feed more than one child simultaneously (known as 'tandem feeding')...some women could theoretically be able to feed up to five babies.Many cultures feature stories, historical or mythological, involving superhuman, supernatural, human and in some instances animal wet-nurses.The Bible refers to Deborah, a nurse to Rebekah wife of Isaac and mother of Jacob (Israel) and Esau, who appears to have lived as a member of the household all her days.Wet nursing is an ancient practice, common to many cultures.
There were those on poor relief, who struggled to provide sufficiently for themselves or their charges, and there were professional wet nurses who were well paid and respected.The goddess Rumina was invoked among other birth and child development deities to promote the flow of breast milk. For years, wet-nursing was a well-paid, respectable and popular job for many lower class women in England. It was common for upper-class women to hire wet nurses to breastfeed their children.In 17th- and 18th-century Britain, a woman would earn more money as a wet nurse than her husband could as a labourer. The English wet nurse in Victorian England was most likely a single woman who previously had given birth to an illegitimate child.There was also an increased need for wet nurses under circumstances when the rates of infant abandonment by mothers, and maternal death during childbirth, were high.Some women choose not to breastfeed for social reasons.