I Had Breast Milk to Sell & Men Coming Out of the Woodwork to Buy It

breast milk

About six months after giving birth, I Googled a phrase I never imagined I'd search for: sell breast milk. I had no idea what I'd find, or if anyone was buying. All I knew for sure was that I had a surplus on my hands I needed to unload.

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How I got to this point: About a day into recovering from my C-section for my first child, a nurse sat down next to my hospital bed and gave me the old "breast is best" spiel. She said that the secret to boosting your milk supply is to use a breast pump, a lot.

So I pumped like a maniac … and overdid it. Within months, breast milk baggies filled our freezer from top to bottom. And unless I died suddenly, my daughter would never drink a drop of it, since she was getting her milk fresh and on demand, nursing around the clock. My husband, realizing there was no room in the fridge for his fresh-caught fish, demanded I dump some down the drain, but I resisted. Breast milk is precious stuff!

"So why not sell it?" my husband suggested.

He was joking, but it got me thinking. In those few days before my milk came in, I worried I wouldn't be able to produce enough for my baby. Desperate that she not miss out on the benefits, the idea flitted across my mind to try to buy breast milk for another mom. Luckily, within days I was gushing milk, and realized I had no reason to buy. Still, given I had been willing to, might not other moms?

Apparently so. Online, I found a website called Only The Breast, which contained hundreds of Craigslist-style ads from moms selling their breast milk for as much as $3/an ounce. Hmmm, I thought, at that price, the contents in my fridge would be worth at least $5,000!

At the time, both my husband and I were unemployed, so the prospect of making easy money and helping a mom feed her baby was an enticing combination. So I started composing an ad. Browsing my competition online, I realized I'd have to sell hard to stand out. Moms really laid it on thick, advertising their product as "rich, creamy" (how do they know?), by their baby's high weight/height percentile, even by their older kids' high IQ scores.

So I tried something similar: Harvard-educated mom with baby in 95+ percentile for height/weight has freezer full of breast milk in New York area. Please get in touch!

Then I sat back and waited, hoping to hear from well-meaning moms who believed that breast was best but were unable to produce enough milk. Well, no such luck. Instead, I heard from a very different type of clientele: men.

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The first response I received to my ad announced, "I'm a guy. Is that okay?"

Okay? Frankly, I wasn't sure how to answer that. Part of me wanted to ask why he wanted my breast milk -- was he a gay dad, perhaps, who was looking for milk for his baby -- but then I realized that if the answer were that simple, he would have volunteered this info from the start. No, this guy didn't want my breast milk for a baby. He wanted to drink it himself.

Before this point, I'd never really considered that drinking breast milk could be a sexual fetish. But now that it was staring me in the face, I tried to control my knee-jerk Ewww and think about it -- and whether I was willing to sell.

I am not the squeamish type. As long as you're not hurting yourself or anyone else, I try not to judge what turns people on. And given the other bodily fluids certain adults enjoy dabbling with in the bedroom, breast milk almost seems tame by comparison.

Still, while I might not judge this guy for wanting to drink my milk, I didn't relish the prospect of doing business with him, either. Even if we didn't touch beyond exchanging my milk for his money, I was sharing something very personal with a stranger for cash, which seemed icky.

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But then again, at that time, I was a new mom with no job, a dwindling bank balance, and a husband in the same dire straits. In our desperate attempts to find work, we passed our daughter back and forth between us like a hot potato. We had no income on the horizon, and a freezer full of breast milk I was about to dump down the drain worth $5,000 … and this man was willing to pay. 

I asked my husband what he thought. He's open-minded like me. Once, on a dare, he'd swigged a shot of my breast milk, just to see how it tasted ("Sweet," he said). How did he feel about me sharing my milk with another man?

His eyebrows immediately furrowed, which meant: Over my dead body. Then I told him how much money we could make. This caused him to sit and rub his chin. Together, we pondered this strange crossroads where parenthood had taken us, a place where practicality tugs against your pride in ways you'll never imagine. No, selling breast milk to a man who'd get off on drinking it was not what I'd envisioned when moms warned me of the "sacrifices" I'd make once a baby entered my life. But a sacrifice it was nonetheless, and I was willing to see it through. And so was my husband.

"Fine," he said. "But I'll do the drop-off to the guy -- not you."

So my husband was my breast milk pimp. Nice. But this seemed preferable to me doing it, and risking getting roped into this guy's fantasies. So I agreed.

I emailed my customer back, saying that yes, it was fine that he was a guy. I didn't ask him to elaborate on his plans and he didn't offer, which was fine by me. All I said was, "My husband can meet you somewhere to drop off my milk. How much do you want?"

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I'd debased my milk, my marriage, my family, myself. But before I could collect what was due to me, my customer disappeared without a peep. And since there had been no other back-and-forth between us other than this initial exchange, I have no idea why he bailed. Maybe the urge to drink breast milk had passed. Or maybe he'd found another mom who was less skittish about handing it over. Whatever the reason, I was simultaneously relieved and disappointed it didn't work out.

After that, I received a few more queries from men. Some were looking to actually nurse -- no thanks! -- while another said he wanted to watch me pump via Skype. I politely but firmly declined. A couple other nibbles from men also fell through, almost as if they were getting off on the fantasy of window shopping rather than the reality.

But it all turned out for the best: Eventually I heard from a mom who truly needed my breast milk because her baby was allergic to formula. She couldn’t afford to pay for my milk, so I donated the entire contents of my freezer to her free of cost. While I received no payment, knowing that I may have kept her baby alive for months felt good, maybe even better than $5,000.

Since then, I've heard and read stories from other moms who've made a killing selling their breast milk online -- paying for cars, computers, and college loans. Had I found such a sugar daddy, I probably would have done the same thing. But even though I didn't end up "selling" my breast milk, this experience did show me just how valuable it is. For better or worse, it taught me just how far I'm willing to go to provide for my child. And the answer is as far as I can go.

Would you sell your breast milk to a man?

 

Image via Dmitry Lobanov/shutterstock

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