Wednesday

Extra Breast Milk for Sale

The benefits of breast milk over formula are well-documented and emphatically supported by the office of the Surgeon General. But how far is too far to go for breast milk? A new website is testing the limits. Onlythebreast.com,  lets new mothers sell their own breast milk by the ounce to buyers across the country. Prices range from $300 to $2000 for a month's supply, depending on the recency of childbirth, the advertised health of the mother, and, ominously, the willingness of the mother to sell to men for "alternative uses."
New mothers have tried to sell extra milk for some time on Craiglist. But Craigslist pulls such posts whenever they're noticed; bodily fluids sit between "Nonprescription drugs that make false or misleading treatment claims" and "Household pets of any kind" on the site's list of prohibited items of sale, in accordance with some state statutes. Read the full article with sample ads on the Huffington Post.

22 comments:

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

Eeeekkk...I am not a Dr. and truly have no background info to back this up, but on a personal level, I feel that each mother's breast milk is designed to be consumed by HER child and HER child ONLY. I would never in a million yrs let my baby drink another woman's breast milk. This is just gross to me. Your thoughts??!

ATL Nanny said...

I absolutely support the idea of donor milk being used to feed children whose mothers cannot produce milk for them. If I were to have a serious problem with breastfeeding that could not be resolved with the help of a lactation consultant, I would absolutely seek out donor milk rather than turn to formula. And if the opposite were true and I were to make more than enough milk for my future baby, I have every intention of donating the extra. There are many places online where parents looking for donor milk can find willing donors. The donors are almost always willing to answer health questions and provide copies of health screenings (like STD tests). I would be very willing to provide that information and I would require it from anyone I obtained milk from. I really don't understand why people freak out about donor milk if it's done properly. Breastmilk is the biological norm. That's what babies were born to eat. Formula is a substitute for those who can't or choose not to breastfeed, but it will never come close to providing all the nutrition, immunity builders and other benefits provided by breastmillk. Those who want to give their child donor milk should be supported, not ridiculed.

All of that said, I'm not terribly comfortable with the idea of buying and selling breast milk unless it is brokered through an agency that does all the necessary screening, etc. I'm much more comfortable with it being donated.

ATL Nanny said...

Just My Two Cents Worth -- You are certainly welcome to your opinion, and I would never try to coerce a woman into feed her child another woman's breastmilk. But it is absolutely untrue to say that a woman's milk is designed ONLY for her baby. Scientifically speaking, that's just not true.

BKmommy06 said...

I think this is a fabulous idea. And in case you're squirming at your keyboard, note that we drink breast milk too. Granted it comes from a cow, but its breast milk nonetheless.

nycmom said...

My concern with buying breastmilk, regardless of the screening, is that some illnesses can be transmitted BEFORE they show up on screening tests. We generally test for antibodies, but you can have virus that is contagious prior to making antibodies. Even though that period of time is small, it can and has happened via blood transfusions.

For me, no way do the limited benefits of breastmilk (let's keep in mind that the actual data supporting most benefits is not very robust), worth that risk.

Tales from the (Nanny)Hood said...

I think that if a mother (or parent/parents) are willing to take the chances inherent in accepting and using donor milk that has NOT been screened, that is their choice and hopefully they have researched and know exactly what risks they are taking with their infant by giving unscreened donor milk. Eats on Feet and Human Milk 4 Human Babies are examples of people trying to do something good. At some point though, someone is going to distribute infectious milk, and the lawsuits will rain down.

Milk banks screen, but can be prohibitively expensive, charging $3 and up per ounce. That cost may or may not be covered by insurance for preemies, and likely isn't covered without a huge fight for non-preemies.

Paying for unscreened breastmilk is nuts. I don't get that at all.

MissMannah said...

I have gotten some really weird looks for my opinion, but I would love to see a world where EVERYONE drinks human breast milk. Like BKmommy said, adults already do drink breast milk, it just comes from some other mammal's breast. Think about it logically, every other mammal drinks from their own kind, why shouldn't we? After a certain age, we stop our babies from drinking something that is proven to have health benefits and then we start them drinking from something else, potentially exposing them to allergens. If we just kept them drinking human milk, they would not develop milk allergies, that's for certain. And they'd continue getting the benefits through adulthood. I'm no scientist, but could it be possible to pasteurize breast milk and sell it in stores? The only downside is this is impossible because you're never going to get lactating mommies to hook themselves up to machines to produce as much milk as cows do daily, that's why it is so expensive.

OK, everyone...go ahead and tell me how weird and gross I am. My husband has already done so!

Bostonnanny said...

Missmannah,

There are companies that pasteurize breast milk. It's expensive and not well known. Plus you lose some of the nutrients.

Phoenix said...

i think this is dangerous. And slightly off-putting. There are enzymes that are in breast milk that i think should only be consumed by her child.

Phoenix said...

actually I like the idea of having a bunch of humans stuck to machines like cows. Maybe if we started treating humans like we treat our livestock people would understand how harsh and evil we are

I said...

I would never feed my child someone else's breast milk.. but I wouldn't mind selling mine if I really needed the money! =]

Wow said...

I've actually talked to a milk bank in Ohio about the process of donating milk for a postpartum doula client. The process of donating is very involved and many moms would not want to take the time to go through it.

The Ohio milk bank mostly supplies to hospitals when a doctor prescribes it for very sick babies. Insurance companies will not pay for the milk for a child after going home unless the child is immuno-compromised.

Cost for buying the milk privately is $4 and some change per ounce.

Just My Two Cents... human milk is tailored to the baby according the age of the child, and in the sense that the child receives antibodies the mom produces to whatever she's been exposed to, but it doesn't mean another baby can't drink it too. Throughout most of the history of man, wet nurses have existed - women who nursed babies other than their own, and those babies have thrived.

nycmom... I respectfully disagree that the benefits of breast milk over formula are limited. Without getting into a debate, the benefits of breast milk for the baby, and breastfeeding for mother and child are greater than many, even in the general medical community would like to admit. That's why the formula companies keep coming out with "new and improved" formulas to try to make their products "more like breast milk."

That being said, it is taking a big risk obtaining breast milk from a stranger, since disease can be spread through breast milk. Even if the donating mom provides "proof" that the milk is safe, there's no way to know whether the "proof" is really from the donating mom. We can't negate the fact that there are some sinister people out there!

AussieNanny said...

ohh wow. Im not sure how i feel about this.
I am all for breast milk and firmly believe that breast is best.. but buying and selling it?
Hmmm.. I might ponder this for a little while..

another nanny said...

It's the buying and selling part that gets me...kind of like buying and selling human body parts. I understand that milk banks might have to charge to cover the costs of screening, storage, etc, but if it becomes a way for the donor to make money, you are going to have more people trying to shirk the donation guidelines in order to get quick cash.

MissMannah said...

Phoenix, I love that visual you just gave me. And by "love" I mean I had a huge shudder.

Dr. Juris said...

Miss Mannah: all animals drink from their own kind, and so do we (through breastfeeding). They also STOP drinking milk after a certain age, as should we. I think your argument goes more towards simply not consuming cow milk or any other kind of milk at all. :)

MissMannah said...

My argument (if you can even call it that) is that is we are going to drink any kind of milk our entire lives, wouldn't it be more logical to drink from our own species?

For the record, I don't drink milk at all, it is disgusting. And I always feel like such a hypocrite when I try to coerce the children to drink it.

Kathryn said...

A good friend of mine had a child with cancer who was 11. She was unable to keep any nourishment down. As a young child they'd done extended breastfeeding, and when a lactating friend offered breast milk they tried it. Ultimately she died, but for over a month it was the only food she could keep down.

moo said...

My only concern would be disease. If people are selling their milk "privately" (rather than through hospitals etc where it's monitored and needs to meet regulations) what would stop someone from doing it solely for money regardless of whether or not they knew they carried a disease??? Secondly, are these mothers being tested for other harmful substances (ie: drugs, alcohol etc etc)? I'm sorry, but someone's "word" is not good enough for me when it comes to my child: I want TESTS proving the product (in this case milk) is 100% safe!

For example, if a person needs a blood transfusion, they don't typically search online for the blood (they go through SAFE regulated means via a health facility) . . .

I'd personally rather use formula than risk the possibility of giving my child something harmful or life threatening.

Home Tivi said...

I think this is a fabulous idea. And in case you're squirming at your keyboard, note that we drink breast milk too. Granted it comes from a cow, but its breast milk nonetheless.

Julia said...

Gotta agree with "moo" how would you know if the milk was safe or not? Sounds dangerous when you just choose some random person off of the internet.

Babinurse said...

It has always amazed me that human beings think their own milk is "gross" yet they think nothing of drinking cow's milk. I have breastfed other women's babies and other women have breastfed my babies. I think milk sharing is a wonderful thing. We should bring back the wet nurses! I would sign up in a heart beat. I agree that if we are going to spend our entire lives drinking milk, it should be from our own species. We really don't need milk after the first 6-8 years, but we enjoy it on our cereal, in our coffee, etc. Someone mentioned Human Milk 4 Human babies - this is a great donor milk service. I would trust women who have extra breastmilk because they are loving moms who would be just as concerned as we would about infectious milk. Plus, the milk is donated, so they have nothing to gain but helping out a needy baby. As the bumper sticker on my car states: "Public Health begins with Breastfeeding."