Would You Buy Breast Milk Online?by Carissa - May 28th, 2015
In centuries past, it wasn’t so unusual to acquire breast milk from someone else for your infant’s needs. Wet nurses have long been available for babies whose mothers could not produce enough milk. With the rise of baby formula, however, this practice went to the wayside in the United States and many other countries. Only recently has it become more open for discussion again.
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We hear over and over again that breast it best, so it’s not surprising people would hunt for it online in this day and age. However, recent reports on the news have shown up to 10% of breast milk bought and sold online is contaminated with cow’s milk or formula. Cow’s milk alone could be a huge problem since most infants shouldn’t have bovine milk until at least one year of age. Their bodies can’t break down this kind of milk yet – some never will. Lactose intolerance is more common than one might think. In an earlier study of breast milk sold online, researchers found that 72% of frozen breast milk samples contained infection-causing bacteria and 21% had potentially harmful viruses. So with all of these potential negatives happening, is the benefit still worth the risk?
Obviously, many people do think so, since on overage breast milk sells for $2.50-$4 per ounce.
As a mother who was nursing her son via pumping, the idea of selling it is certainly appealing from this end. There’s plenty of overproduced milk sitting in my chest freezer. For my son, however, due to his cleft lip and palate, his digestive system is extremely sensitive. The slightest change in my diet and it would cause him to have massive reflux attacks. We ended up supplementing what I pumped with formula to try to level things out, but in the end, it became clear he just did better with a consistent meal the formula alone was able to provide. I’ve tried giving him pasteurized breast milk from the freezer and each time he still gets extremely irritated by it. I suspect that there may be a high lipase content in the milk once frozen – because as long as the pumped milk was fresh, he was copacetic. However, not even the pasteurized milk works with him, so the milk in my freezer still sits unused. I’ve nursed my older two children until they were one with absolutely no problems, but the fact that my new son has such an issue makes me wonder if selling the remnant is the way to go. Could there be something wrong with the milk beyond the lipase? I’m not a drinker, never a smoker, and try my best to eat healthy/organic, and workout. One would assume it would be spot on, right?
For peace of mind, I tend to lean more toward donating the milk rather than selling it. When donated, the centers like the Human Milk Bank Association of North America, or Mother’s Milk Cooperative will screen their donors and test the breast milk for issues. They also pasteurize it before passing it on, but that also means a steeper price when purchasing – we’re talking the $4/ounce or more range. For those of you interested in selling (or buying, for that matter), it’s important to note that places like Craigslist actually forbid the sale of human bodily fluids – breast milk included. Instead, sites like Only the Breast is a good place to start. Not only can you sell your unused breast milk, but you can also donate instead, or purchase straight through the site.
Personally, I haven’t made up my mind yet on whether or not to sell or donate. I’m sure that decision will need to be made soon, seeing as my son is now four months old and most of the milk has been in my freezer from as early as week two. I am, however, interested in any of you have bought or sold breast milk online. What have been your experiences? Did things work out well? Would you do it again? Leave us a comment in the section below.
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.
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