It’s a known fact in the breastfeeding world that some women produce more breast milk than others. We don’t know exactly why–they just do. And sometimes, those women produce more breast milk than just about everyone, way more than they’d ever need. So, for these women, selling surplus breast milk has become a rather common practice. You take what you need, and you sell the rest of that “liquid gold” for $1-4 an ounce. And why shouldn’t you get to make a little extra money on the side while your baby takes your nipples through hell and back the long way? You deserve it!
Well, actually, there might be a reason you shouldn’t.
Elizabeth Currid-Halkett penned an op-ed for The New York Times entitled, “Give Breast Milk,” which urges productive mamas not to cash in on their over-enthusiastic lactation, but instead to donate their milk to people who really need it. According to Currid-Halkett, there are plenty of milk banks and hospital NICUs who desperately need it, and you’d be helping a lot of people.
Breast milk donation ought to be more like giving blood, not for profit and not as part-time work. Yes, there is always a subset of people who sell their blood (in the form of plasma), and that may also be true for some big milk producers, as it was historically for wet nurses who were paid to feed other women’s babies.
Every ounce counts, so even if women aren’t able to send hundreds of ounces to milk banks, milk drives sponsored by hospitals or health organizations could make it easier for women to take part. To donate milk takes a bit more effort than showing up at a blood drive, but it is just as critical. Giving milk, like giving blood, offers an invaluable reward: the satisfaction of doing our duty as healthy humans to help babies who are not.
She makes a good point, and wouldn’t it feel amazing to know that you’re not just feeding your own baby, but perhaps dozens of other babies who would otherwise not have access to those vital nutrients?
I’m not in the business of telling other women what to do with their bodies and productions thereof. But, if you’ve got a surplus; are healthy and able-bodied; financially secure; and down to donate breast milk, I encourage you to do it. You might be saving lives in the process.