While it might seem like a weird business at first, once you get past the shock factor of selling your own breast milk, you’ll probably realize it’s a great idea for everyone involved. You can make some extra money while helping babies (or others) in need.
I first heard about selling breast milk in the “general comments” area of a writer’s chat room I sometimes attend. One woman wanted our opinion on whether she should sell her breast milk — she was concerned about it being a “taboo” topic. She was expecting her third child, always produced too much milk (which resulted in a freezer full of milk, she said), and she needed some extra money.
Why Is There a Market for Breast Milk?
Many medical doctors recommend breastfeeding as the ideal way to feed a baby. Babies digest and absorb breast milk better than they do formula, which helps them become healthier. In fact, some studies link three childhood health issues to formula-fed babies: atopy (which includes asthma, eczema and allergies), diabetes and obesity.
Babies are not the only people who benefit from breast milk sales: athletes are increasingly buying it for the extra energy it provides, as are people who need an immune booster, according to New York Magazine’s The Cut.
Breast milk contains the “perfect combination of proteins, fats, vitamins and carbohydrates,” according to the American Pregnancy Association. It also contains leukocytes, living cells that help fight infection.
Breast Milk from a Stranger
Wet nurses, women who breastfeed another woman’s child, were commonplace once upon a time in America. However, around the time the bottle and formula were developed, society took a negative view of the concept, and by 1900, the wet-nursing profession ended. These days, wet nursing is making somewhat of a comeback, but what is happening on a larger scale is mothers selling their breast milk online.
How to Sell Breast Milk Online
The ads on Only The Breast are categorized by the age of the baby: from zero to two months, two to six months and six to 12 months — breast milk composition changes based on the time since birth. Mothers can also choose to sell in other categories, such as milk bank certified, selling locally and willing to sell to men. You’ll see ads like “Breast milk for sale from a young, healthy, overproducing mom of one.”
Moms sell the breast milk for an average of $2.50 an ounce. Some people sell it for more than that, and some sell it for less. Others freeze a bulk supply, such as 2,500 ounces, and sell it for $350. Babies need between 19 and 30 ounces of breast milk daily from the age of one to six months, so selling milk can be quite lucrative. For example, if you sold 25 ounces of breast milk per day at $2.50 an ounce for a year, you’d make almost $23,000. (Like this idea? Click to tweet it!)
To create your own ad, simply register for a free account with the Only The Breast. Determine ahead of time whether you want to sell locally to exchange the breast milk and cash in person, or whether you’d prefer to ship frozen breast milk.
Selling or Donating Your Breast Milk to Milk Banks
Another option is a milk bank, a company that collects milk and processes it. Some milk banks, such as Mothers Milk Cooperative, pay donors $1 an ounce. If you have extra breast milk and are not interested in selling it, you can donate it at National Milk Bank or the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
I spoke with a mom, Amber Taufen, who bought milk from a milk bank. But at $4 an ounce, Taufen said she could not afford to buy the milk for long and eventually switched to formula. The advantage of milk banks is that they screen the milk for pharmaceuticals and other drugs, which was important to Taufen.
Taufen said that meeting with a local seller, however, “might be more reassuring than using a milk bank.” Lee Uehara, who runs PumpMama, agrees. She meets with woman in person and donates her breast milk to them. Uehara prefers this method to donating to milk banks that pasteurize the milk, which reduces breast milk’s benefits.
Your Turn: Have you ever bought or sold breast milk?
Laura Agadoni has a background in credit union marketing. Her articles appear in various financial publications such as The Houston Chronicle’s small business section, The Motley Fool, Yahoo! Finance, San Francisco Gate’s real estate section, Zacks, Arizona Central’s small business section and InsuranceQuote.com. Follow her on Twitter @LauraAgadoni.