Real Talk: Should Moms Be Able To Sell Their Breast Milk?

by Marissa Dubecky

Here’s a part time job you might not have heard of: New mother, Gretty Amaya, took an unpaid maternity leave 5 months ago, and has since made $2,000 selling her leftover breast milk. Where’s the milk going? To extremely premature babies who need the nutrients to survive.

While we can all get behind the idea of saving babies lives, it’s the question of whether mothers should be compensated for their breast milk that’s raising debate. As breast milk becomes more and more of a commodity (it could also potentially help adults with infectious diseases), health professionals are considering the dangers of commercializing the vital source of nourishment.

If companies start making costly products, there might be less milk available for the nonprofit milk banks that prioritize providing breast milk to the sickest babies. Mothers will likely be inclined to sell to companies that are willing to pay them more, meaning that the products available would go to babies from families who have insurance or financial resources, rather than the newborns who need the milk most.

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With these financial incentives comes a few other concerns. One being that mothers might hide health problems that could make the milk less safe (though there is a lengthy process before they accept any milk), mix it with cow milk to increase the amount, and potentially withhold milk from their own children so that they have more to sell.

However, some believe that its only fair to pay mothers for their milk, and that paying women would raise awareness that this opportunity exists. Many mothers don’t realize that their breast milk is in demand, and if women were paid for it, some believe an increase in supply would result. More milk = more healthy babies. 

What do you think? Should mothers be paid for their milk, or donate it like the public does at blood drives? What are the risks that often arise when for-profit companies get involved with any industry, and how can we ensure fair treatment of all involved?

Image via Tip Top Signs and

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