April 11, 2005

Breast Pimps

breast_milk_freezer_bag.jpgGrabbing the story with both hands, the LA Times reports on the business and the risks of a new trend: using OPB [Other People's Breastmilk].

While the tradition of wet nurses dates back at least to 1988, when The Last Emperor came out [at least that's when I figured it out], there's apparently been a four-fold increase in demand for human milk, fueled by adoptions and by the use of breast milk in the treatment protocols for certain infant diseases. [And the tireless efforts of La Leche League, I'm sure. Props, ladies.]

Anyway, milk banks [who knew?] charge $3/oz. for thoroughly tested, pasteurized breast milk, and usually require a prescription. For folks without the extra $2,400/month to spend on breast milk, pediatricians, nursing support groups, and lactation consultants sometimes act as go-betweens for parents and donors.

The big risk, of course, is disease; many infections, including Staph and HIV, can be transmitted to a baby through breast milk.

Supposedly, you can buy breast milk on ebay and craigslist, although the new, authoritative-yet-exploitative news site Sploid went shopping and came up dry. Maybe it's on "the Internet" instead.

Feeding a need [LAT, via Sploid]
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America [est. 1985, see? I wasn't far off]
Related: Ben posts A Gallery of Expired Milk on Trixie Update [and the comments mention a January 2005 WSJ story about the underground breast milk economy?]

41 Comments

I used to go to the boards at breastfeeding.com and every once in awhie a woman would show up looking for breastmilk. It would garner different reactions depending on the situation. Someone who had a preemie or problems nursing and a child with allergies was more likely to get donations than someone who had a healthy child and for some reason couldn't breastfeed. Some health insurance providers cover the cost of banked milk in certain situations.

The women who donated on bf.com seemed to be like the ones mentioned in one of the articles who keep track of exactly what they eat, provided health records, etc. for the mother. There was talk of breastmilk being on ebay etc but no one could ever find any there either.

There was an episode of Dharma & Greg where they adopted a little boy and part of their "village" to raise the baby included someone from the local lactation group who provided breastmilk (from a cooler, not her body) for the baby. (The adoption only lasted 3-4 episodes because the birthmother changed her mind.) I always wondered if those groups existed and now I know.
I guess now I need to update Fuller's tab. So, if it is $3/oz and Fuller eats about 40 oz a day... I think I need a calculator.

I have seen breastmilk once on ebay, but the auction was pulled - they consider it to fall under the category of selling organs or blood.

I saw someone asking for breastmilk on Craigslist once, and thought it was really strange. I didn't realize that people actually do use donated milk.

There was an auction on ebay as recently as March (pulled before it ended) and someone was selling breastmilk on the NYC Craigslist too (also pulled). Seems the going rate for private sale is $5, so, mrscrumley, jack that tab up some more!

$5 an ounce? Would it be seriously unethical of me to do this? I'm about to have another baby, I'm a major overproducer, I don't have any communicable diseases (just an unholy love of ice cream). I could pay for preschool easily this way. The mind boggles...

Why would it be unethical, unless you are secretly a junkie or are planning on shipping skim milk with sugar mixed in?

I think as long as it is legal and you are accurately representing the product, if the buyer is comfortable and you are comfortable, go for it.

When I had pumping problems with my first, another daycare mother who had such oversupply that she was tossing expired milk offered to pump for us, too. But I didn't know her well enough or little enough to be comfortable with that, if you know what I mean. If she was a sister or my best friend, or if it was a completely professional relationship, that would be one thing. the semi-friendly peres at daycare thing would have made it too odd.

I donate milk to a friend whose child has serious health issues. I have done it for 9 months. ABC News did a story about it in January. La Leche League actually opposes this type of donation, but for this family the other risks were much greater (their child was dying). It has made a big difference in her health. We have had no problems.

My husband and I have six children. The first 2 were formula fed and had asthma, allergies, ear infections and more. The next four were breast fed and are not only much healthier but do better overall. We are expecting number seven and if I have extra breast milk I will gladly supply it to a mom or dad who need it. It is wrong for a baby to have to settle for formula because mom cannot breast feed because of cancer or other illness.

I have a five month old boy and I currently breastfeed. I am a milk maid and have a freezer full of milk. I would also supply milk. I am HIV/HEP free. No drug/alcohol, even RX. I take vitamins and calcium daily and I don't drink cows milk. Serious people only. My mother is a NICU nurse and I understand the need for clean, healthy breastmilk.

I too am a breastfeeding mother of a 7 month old. I think if people want to give their child breastmilk and cant for whatever reason they should have the option.

One way to get your child off breast fed if he/she bites too hard, push your baby's face into the breast an he/she will need to breathe.

I am a 25 year old health nut, nursing a 6 week old little girl, who is my everything. I do not smoke or drink and can provide a clean bill of health from my doctor. I would be interested in helping out a mom/dad who would need breast milk for their baby.

i sold my b/m (to my cousin who adopted) after my last child was born. Now that i have another baby i would love to do this again. it is a great way to make alittle extra $.

I am a mom of 3 children & am considering selling my breastmilk to someone who needs it.
I am healthy, drug free I do not smoke & I do not do drugs.All reasonable offers are considered plus shipping.
Please feel free to email me if interested.

I am a very healthy first-time mother. I have extra milk, am a nursing student and understand the benefits of breastfeeding. Please e-mail me if you are interested.

My daughter is 6 months old and 20 pounds healthy. If someone were to need extra breastmilk, please do keep me in mind. I am healthy and a JW.

I am a 29 year old first time mom who stays at home full time with our 4 1/2 month old. I don't drink, do drugs, and can provide a clean bill of health from my doctor. I pump anyway, and would love to not only make some extra $, but help out a parent who understands how important breast milk is.

I am a 26 year old mother of two. I am currently nursing my 4 month old. I would consider helping parents that need breastmilk. I can provide a clean bill of health from my doctor. I do not smoke, drink, use drugs or take any medication. I take 1 prenatal vitamin daily.

I'm a producer at CNN who recently had a baby and is breast feeding. I became interested in doing a story on women who are selling their milk to other women who cannot breast feed or adoptive parents or single dads. The benefits of breast milk are so great that many parents who might have used formula years ago are turning to milk banks or lactating women so they can feed their babies. I've spoken to milk banks, women who are sharing milk with friends and I'd like to find someone who sold their milk and found someone who needed help. Please contact me at 212 275 7721 if that's you or you know someone. Thanks, Rose Arce

I am a mother of three sons....I have breastfed all three of them and have loved doing so. I have produced more milk than I have needed with all three. I would love to find someone who is interested in purchasing my excess milk. I am keenly aware of my health since I am nursing my own son obviously I want my milk to be as nourishing as possible. I have never done drugs of any kind, never smoked or consumed any alcohol. I eat a well balanced diet, exercise and take a pre-natal vitamin everyday.
I value your time and I hope you value mine as well which is why I am hopeful for serious inquires only. I am asking for two dollars an ounce plus shipping (dry ice). My husband and I own a small business so we can take credit cards if that is helpful. Please e-mail at lilyofthe west@safe-mail.net. Please include the word breastmilk in your e-mail title so that I dont throw out with junk e-mail.
I hope to hear from you soon. Take good care.

Sara

My wife and I have a 6m old boy who is breastfed and my wife is also an overproducer. I am a FP physician and am well aware of all the transmissable diseases via breastmilk. My wife is a nonsmoker and nondrinker. She has not been exposed to any recent illnessess now or during her pregnancy. If anyone would want verification she is free of communicable diseases that could be provided. We would charge $2.50 per oz.

does anyone really buy black market milk?

[beats me, but an awful lot of people are apparently selling. -ed.]

I am a healthy 28 year old mom of 2 who is willing to sell my freshly frozen breastmilk to someone who needs it. I am drug/alcohol/disease free and I eat healthy foods and drink lots of H2O. If you are interested, please contact me for more details. Thanks!

Hi,
Im a Canadian mom interested in selling my surplus breast milk. My little girl is 2mths old and I already have several months stored up. I am a very healthy; I do not smoke, drink alcohol, or do any drugs of ANY kind. I do take Materna, a pre and postnatal vitamin supplement. I eat little sugar, and no caffeine, except for the occasional piece of chocolate. I breastfed my 2 1/2 year old toddler until she was 1yrs old; I am convinced that is why she does not have any allergies and has had only 2 colds ever. Please email me at lilasmom@nbnet.nb.ca if interested in purchasing some of my extra Mommy Milk. Thanks

I am a healthy 24 year old currently nursing my 4 month old daughter. I'm healthy, eat good, non-drinker, non-smoker & would be interested in selling my extra breast milk since I overproduce. Please contact me if you are interested.

Jill

To all the new mommies, congratulations!!! I am the proud mommy of a 12 week old baby boy, Evan. He is my first and what an incredible journey it's been so far. We have been breastfeeding since day one. I am 29 years old, active, in excellent health, a previous kindergarten teacher (but couldn't bare to leave him in a day care so tiny and young) and am very willing to send you any health information to reassure you. I am looking to sell some of my overabundance of breast milk to anyone interested. Please contact me at shannonedmondson@yahoo.com if interested.

Hi, I am the mother of an 8 week old baby boy. I just found out he is lactose intolerant which means the 70+ 6 0z. bags of breast milk I have frozen in the past 7 weeks will not be used by him. I must go on a no dairy diet. I will miss my ice cream... Healthy, nearly germaphobic (scrub hands before bagging milk, etc.), married 32 yr. old non-smoking, disease free individual. If interested in my dairy supply please email me at buddyune@aol.com.

Hi-
I'm 27 and nursing my 4 1/2 old son. I still produce about twice what he can consume, and I hate to throw it away. I'm very healthy, eat well and take my prenatals. I don't smoke, drink or do drugs. I live in the Denver Metro Area. If anyone is interested in my excess supply of milk email me at aahillarym@yahoo.com. I'd love to help another mother who is unable to provide her child with milk.

I am a very healthy mother of two and with both children I have had an over-abundent supply of breast milk. I have a 2 year old and a two month old. I hate to throw good breatmilk away and would love to help out a baby who could use it. I am located in northeastern Indiana. Please contact me at 260-799-9913 or 260-894-2812(cell).

Hi, I am a nursing mother of a happy healthy boy who is almost one! I also have heard of mothers selling their breastmilk. Does any one have any idea how to go about doing this? I think it is a shame how expensive milk banks are. A lot of them are charging $3.50-$5.00 an ounce. That is outrageous. I would love to find a mom who needs breastmilk, and be able to help her out without bankrupting her. If anyone is interested, please e-mail me @ amandaihde@hotmail.com

27 YEAR OLD NEW MOMMY CURRENTLY BREASTFEEDING A 4 MONTH OLD AND OVERPRODUCING. WOULD LIKE TO SELL MY EXCESS MILK. CAN SHOW PROOF OF CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH/ DISEASE FREE. MY DAUGHTER IS EXTREMELY HEALTHY AND INTELLIGENT. SHE STARTED SITTING ON HER OWN AT A MERE 13 WEEKS AND IS ALREADY TRYING TO CRAWL AND WALK! HER DOCTORS AND NURSES CAN'T BELIEVE HOW ADVANCED SHE IS AND I ATTRIBUTE IT TO BREAST MILK AND TO GOD. SHE IS ALREADY 25.5 INCHES AND 18LBS 4OZ. VERY HEALTHY AND HAPPY!

ADDENDUM: IF INTERESTED E-MAIL ME AT chocolatethunda22@msn.com THANKS - LINDA

If anybody needs breast milk in CT or NY area I will donate my breast milk. Please write me few lines about why you need breastmilk e-mail: breastmilk111@hotmail.com I don't smoke, drink or use drugs.I am married and have 2 month old baby girl.

I am breastfeeding my 7 weeks old beautiful daughter and I would like to sell some breast milk. I live in White Plains/NY. E-mail me. katiasimao@optonline.net. Thank you!!!

I have a very healthy 8 month old and alot of extra breast milk. I eat a healthy diet and don't do drugs, drink or smoke. I would like to sell my milk to a mother in need. Please let me know if you are interested. Please email me with any questions you have. My email address is comarmot@comcast.net

Anyone wishing to make a wonderful gift to a baby who would benefit greatly from your milk, may wish to look at donating through www.milkshare.com or www.breastmilkdonations.com.

I am a new stay at home mom who would like to help other moms feed their little ones while helping our family transition into a one income household. I am very healthy as is my own little one. I do not drink, smoke, or use any drugs/ meds besides prenatal vitamins and one caffienated beverage each morning :-). I eat a variety of healthy foods (Besides your baby, I am feeding my own precious one). I don't intend to get rich, just to help out your family and mine. Please email me if we can help each other!

Lovelittleones06@hotmail.com

I am currently nursing my 6 1/2 mo. old son. He is my 2nd child. I nursed the first until he was 10 mos, and at the time I weaned him, I was already PG with #2. I have a huge surplus of milk. I work a full time job and pump 3 times daily at work to keep my supply up. Plus, he sleeps all night, so I nurse on one side and pump on the other when he wakes up in the mornings, and pump each night before I go to bed. Have any of you actually had luck selling your milk? What advice do you have? If you know anyone who needs it, please feel free to send them my way! marisabrockway@dtnspeed.net

I'm a stay at home mom to my 3 year old and 1 month old. I tend to be an overproducer. I nursed my toddler until she was 2 and am breastfeeding currently. I can show a clean bill of health. I do not take any drugs, prescription, or non, and I do not smoke. I would be willing to sell my milk to a family. If intrested email me at beccalriley@sbcglobal.net

I am a Healthy 28 year old Mother of 4 Healthy childern. I have a Premature baby in the NIC unit and I have PLENTY of extra Milk. I have gotten a 100% clean bill of health for the NIC Unit where my child is Now. Yes they have screened my milk and it is clear and healthy. If you are intrested please E-Mail me at Pylate3@Aol.com

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