Author Question: Wet Nursing

Kristin asks:

I have a question for a novel I’m writing. In it, there is a woman who lost her nursing baby in a space ship crash and finds herself in a place where the have-nots are so malnourished that nursing infants are skinny. So if this newcomer takes on nursing these babies, how many could she sustain? I was thinking six (for the story) to keep them alive, although not well nourished, but better off than before. 

Jordyn says:

Wow. This is a pretty interesting question. I ran it by a few doctors/nurse practitioners I work with and the consensus was about three. If you think of just how much an infant eats and how much the woman would have to drink and eat to sustain even three infants– it would be a lot.

Also, you have to consider what type of environment she’s now living in. The past nutrition she had, if good, would need to be sustained. If she’s now living in an environment where she herself would also have trouble obtaining food– then she’s going to be in the same boat as these other women.