Is it morally wrong to sell breastmilk? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 06-06-2011, 09:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've just been doing some reading on selling breastmilk for extra income and there's a big part of me that would loooooove to be a SAHM and sell my breastmilk. My parental leave is almost up and I really do not want to go back to work. I'd love to be a stay at home mom but we can't afford to do without my income. We could swing it if I was bringing in money by selling breastmilk and I could be a SAHM mom too!

On the other hand, something about selling breast milk leaves me feeling.. I don't know.. unsettled. What right do I have to charge a family for my milk? Obviously if a family is buying breastmilk they really need it and don't feel that there is a better alternative. What kind of a person would I be to charge them for bm instead of donating it.

Under what circumstances would you sell your bm? Do you think it's morally wrong? How does the practice of being paid to be a wetnurse factor in to your opinion on the matter?


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#2 of 14 Old 06-07-2011, 11:00 AM
 
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Actually, I find it much more problematic to BUY breastmilk--but I think that's informed by the history of wet-nursing. I don't see a big difference, morally speaking, between buying pumped milk and hiring a wet-nurse. Here's the problem that I have with both of those practices: If buying breastmilk becomes widespread, wealthy families will buy it, and poorer women will sell it. If the price is right, poorer women may end up in the position of selling the milk that they need to feed their own children.

 

There have been cases in history when this has happened; in 17th century France* where it was common for wealthy women to hire wet-nurses, there were many cases where the babies of poorer women died or were made quite ill because their mother's milk went to the wealthy baby, and the poor baby was feed gruel or some other substitute food.

 

Of course I recognize the situation where a mom has a giant freezer stash and wants to help out with a family who can't nurse a baby is a very different circumstance in terms of the power relationships involved, but I think there should be very strict legal guidelines around this to protect less wealthy mothers and babies, just in case.

 

*Apologies if I have the time frame wrong here--this is described in Sarah Hrdy's book "Mother Nature," which is sort of a natural history of mothering practices across human culture and history, and I'm describing this from memory.

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#3 of 14 Old 06-07-2011, 07:38 PM
 
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Hmm, it's considered morally okay to sell food, shelter, breastmilk substitutes, blood, medicine, and medicinal services, and when people need those they REALLY need those. Though the government often helps them with those costs.

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#4 of 14 Old 08-10-2011, 03:24 PM
 
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I don't think there should be legal guidelines. I think this should be somethng that mothers can work out themselves. There are women that could breastfeed that don't and want breastmilk for their baby. They shouldn't expect another woman to donate her milk. They may be fine with paying. There are situations when it is clear the woman can't breastfeed (no breasts, cancer) or can't supply enough (triplets) and women are happy to donate. If all the women that could breastfeed would breastfeed then there would be plenty of donor milk for all the babies and sick children that need it.


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#5 of 14 Old 08-11-2011, 04:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cyllya View Post

Hmm, it's considered morally okay to sell food, shelter, breastmilk substitutes, blood, medicine, and medicinal services, and when people need those they REALLY need those. Though the government often helps them with those costs.


Interestingly up here in Canada blood is not bought, it is donated. Same with sperm and donor eggs. Different societies seem to have different opinions on the sale of such things.

 

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#6 of 14 Old 08-11-2011, 06:21 AM
 
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Having enough milk to be able to share/sell is pretty wonderful.  It would never occur to me that it'd be unethical unless you were doing some crazy price-gouging.  Lots of folks use their talents, skills, abilities, and bodies to help others; why shouldn't you?


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#7 of 14 Old 08-12-2011, 12:46 PM
 
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I read an article on this not so long ago on Wired.  I have donated my milk in the past to non-profit milk banks, but I see the appeal for selling it woman-to-woman.  I myself have to WOHM full time and it's sucky to be away from my kids.  If you decide to sell your milk, keep in mind that there might be many offers from people outside the sphere of "I need this milk for my infant".  I know one woman from the article in question stated that a guy with an immune disorder bought her milk to drink.  In the end, anyone could be buying your milk.

 

Like any business, your being able to sell the milk is a matter of supply and demand.  If you're staying with woman-to-woman sales and are unwilling to ship, you may have a very limited niche.  Most poorer women may find it more economical to seek formula through WIC or a social net of the like (I'm assuming you're in the US?), while more middle-class women may seek free milk from a Human Milk for Human Babies/Eats on Feets group.  Having said that, if you are not concerned about selling your milk to a wide variety of people for a potential variety of uses and you have a deep freeze for long-term milk storage, it's definitely an option.


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#8 of 14 Old 08-12-2011, 10:13 PM
 
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I'd sell it without a problem, except that the people who seem to want to buy it are real weirdos and don't seem to want to pay decent rates. Here in Hawaii, it seems to be weightlifters who think it will give them extra definition?! Anyway, they only want to pay $1.50/oz, which is not much, and they only want fresh and not frozen. I'm not pumping that much extra for $1.50/oz, you know? 

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#9 of 14 Old 09-03-2011, 04:36 PM
 
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It's done regularly in England.  I read an excerpt on it and the mums get crazy money for it.


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#10 of 14 Old 09-07-2011, 12:17 PM
 
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don't some of the milk banks take donated milk and then turn around sell it for over $3.00 an ounce? and as far as i know it is pasturized and mixed with other mom's milk. you might be able to find a couple families willing to pay you for milk that is not pasturized and not mixed with other moms milk.

 

although i can see where you are coming from. i am studying to become a LC and i feel weird to eventually be charging for breastfeeding advice. 

 

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#11 of 14 Old 10-18-2011, 07:30 PM
 
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My understanding is milk banks have to charge to cover their overhead. I also read that they used to pay donors but stopped because some moms were mixing in cows milk. oops.gif

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#12 of 14 Old 10-21-2011, 08:41 PM
 
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Human milk has immune globulin A (IgA) that protects prople from sinus, respitatory, GI, ear, skin, and some other infections. There is no treatment for people that have low levels of IgA or no IgA. There is treatment for people that have low leveles of immune globulin G (IgG), not found in breastmilk (at least not in large quantities). People can have selective IgA deficiency or a combined immune deficiency like Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID), the person has low levels of IgA, IgG, and IgM.

 

The treatment for IgG is IV gamma globulin every 3 weeks. This is a rare (orphan) disease and not much work is being done to improve treatment. The treatment has been the same for 25 or more years. It is very expensive and devistates families. If you have the IVs as a hospital OP it costs $20,000 or more every 3 weeks. It is a little less if you have it done at an infusion suite, the kind of place where they give chemo. My 3 children and I were all diagnosed with CVID 23 years ago. I have been getting the IVs every 3 weeks for 23 years.

 

Does drinking breastmilk work for people with IgA deficiency? If it does should there be medicine made from breastmilk that costs tens of thousands of dollars a month for people with IgA deficiency? I don't think it would work. Many people with low levels of IgA have high levels of immune globulin E (IgE), the allergy immune globulin. Some brands of IV gamma globulin has a little IgA in it and people can have an allergic or adverse reaction to the IgA. I'm thinking people could have allergic reactions to IgA from human milk especially if it was processed and concentrated. Would IgA survive the adult digestive process and prevent illness? The infant's digestive system is not the same as the adult's. 

 

Just having IgA deficiency isn't that rare. It's estimated 1 in 400 people have it and most have very few problems. About 1 in 50,000 people have CVID. The reason they say it costs so much for the IVs for gamma globulin is that they pool the gamma globulin portion of 20,000 different people's units of blood to make the IV medicine. It doesn't take 20,000 per IV, they don't tell you how many IVs they get from the 20,000. The gamma globulin would be a tiny part of a unit of blood. It comes from paid donors and the rest of the unit is used for other things.

 

If we decided to treat people with low levels of IgA with human milk where would we get enough human milk? It would take huge amounts for adults. If the medical community took over and started processing the milk to remove the IgA it could cost huge amounts of money. So huge a person could loose their house, car, most of what they own, their job, and have to get divorced to Medicaid to get treated. That's what happens to most families with a member that has CVID that has to have IgG IVs. If a person is having sinus infections, horrible diarrhea and cellulitis several times a year it may be worth it to get IgA and it could save their life. Some people can have life-threatening health issues with just IgA deficiency.

 


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#13 of 14 Old 10-27-2011, 10:34 AM
 
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I don't think it's morally wrong at all. The mama worked to pump that milk. Why shouldn't she sell it without facing an angry mob if she so chooses?

Yes, obviously donating it is the "better" thing to do, but I find it ridiculous that anyone would tell a woman what she should do with HER milk.

That said, I donate mine. The idea of selling it is tempting considering my income right now is almost nothing, but I just can't bring myself to do it. 


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#14 of 14 Old 10-29-2011, 12:57 PM
 
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I don't think that it is morally wrong. I'd prefer to donate to a non-profit bank, but I have a condition that made the milk bank say "no way!" In reality, it does not affect the breast milk at all. I'd consider donating directly or selling. I don't think that selling at a reasonable price to someone that has cancer or immune-deficiencies is wrong.

I also get IgG infusions, but every 5 weeks. Holy COW is that stuff expensive! My dose has to be broken up into three daily doses that are infused over 4 hours each day. The medicine alone is $14,000, and the chemo center is $1,000 a day. I was on less expensive medication that was $10,000, but had a severe reaction and had to switch. Luckily, the insurance I have for now covers it. Otherwise there is no way I could afford treatment.

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