Thursday, March 15, 2007

Breast milk for Sale

Anicius had to be in the ICU right after he was born.

Mamafess breastfeeding no.six while he was in ICU.

The recent case of a poor mother from the Chinese countryside hired to breastfeed an affluent city-dweller’s baby has brought memories of the first time I breastfeed my eldest son seventeen years ago. My husband and I have read that breast milk was most suitable for a baby and as a mother, I was eager to give my son the best. Luckily, I was able to produce a lot of milk. By the third month, I have managed to freeze about twenty (9 oz) bottles to be kept for future use.

At that time, one of my friends had just adopted a child called Vincent. As he was allergic to soya and cow milk, he could only drink breast milk. There was an urgent called to ask for donation of breast milk and his father became the milkman of Singapore as he went all over Singapore collecting breast milk for his adopted son. We contributed as much as we could spare. I remembered that on his first birthday, his adopted parents invited all the mothers who have contributed to a big birthday party. If my memories served me well, over fifty mothers, regardless of race or religion, came forward to help baby Vincent. It was an unforgettable sight to see so many bottles of frozen breast milk. None of us were paid but the smile of Baby Vincent was priceless.

Now that professional wet nurses have appeared in many cities across China due to rising incomes and a demand for healthy milk, it has started a fierce debate over the ethics of the ancient art of wet nursing. Many object to the fact that some mothers are unwilling to nurse babies because they hope to maintain a slender figure. Of course there is the grey area when mothers are unable to nurse because they either do not have milk or suffer from infectious diseases. Although the wet nurses claimed that they are only providing an economic service and thus are justified to be paid, some worried that this would deprive the wet nurse own child from having the benefit of breast milk.

Is this a case of exploitation of the poor by the children of rich parents? How do we price a bottle of breast milk? What about the health of the wet nurse? How does one determine the quality of the breast milk? Is there a co-relationship between the nutrition in-take of the wet nurse and the quality and quantity of breast milk? Would some women be treated like cows whose sole existence are to produce breast milk for other children?

In Singapore, as more women become educated about the benefit of breast milk, they would be motivated to breastfeed their children. Would there come a day when a mother who could not or would not breastfeed take the easy road and pay for a wet nurse? How would CASE response to such a case? Would the AVA authority steps in and consider the wet nurse as part of primary production?

Just as we do not allow the sale of blood or organ, we should not allow the sale of breast milk for by doing so we would treat the body as a commodity. All donation of breast milk should consider as gift so as to preserve the dignity of the human spirit. If we do not make a firm stand against the sale of breast milk be it from a wet nurse or from a bottle, we would soon find it acceptable to trade in blood, organ, sperm and egg.


simcooks said...

"... some mothers are unwilling to nurse babies because they hope to maintain a slender figure." Huh? I thought nursing burns calories?

Breastfeeding should be the way to go. Can save some milk powder money too.

Just that the mom need to be persistent and not discouraged easily (if not enough milk) - that's what I was told.

MOS said...

If that is true how come I am known as fatmama? ha ha.

Yes breastfeeding burns calories and will help to shrink the womb. I always feels the contraction when baby suck for the first few weeks.

You will not be able to produce any liquied at all for the first four days. Do not worry for the baby. Baby have enough fats stored to last for one week. He just have to suck consistantly and works on it so that the more he sucks the more the breast will produce the milk. Some says baby takes over father's place ha ha.

Must not give in to others when they complain you have no milk and insist that they feed baby bottle.

yes save money on milk powder. One tin last for one week each tin ranges from S$20 to S$40.

Anonymous said...

Human milk is a renewable resource, and contributing it does no harm to the woman. Indeed, I think the harvesting, sterilisation, packaging and distribution of human milk on a commercial basis worldwide can well provide a lucrative cottage industry for many third world countries. After all, as you say, human milk is far more suitable for human babies than is cow milk.
-- The Philosopher

Christina said...

In the USA,Men are paid for donating sperm and people are paid for blood.

As for gaining weight, a breastfeeding mom can burn up to an extra 600 calories/day. I have shrank 6 dress sizes since I started breastfeeding. I weigh much less now then before I got pregnant.

Breastfeeding also helps to prevent breast cancer.

I believe that breastmilk in a perfect world should be for sale. But for now it is not safe. There needs to be a government run program to ensure the safety of the milk that is sold. They would need to do vigorous testing. Almost all drugs or medications taken by the mom transfer into the milk,and can cause serious problems for babies. I had a cold and couldn't even take cough syrup.

Babies gain so many benefits from breastmilk. These are just a few;

Increased IQ
Increased resistance to colds/flus and other infectious diseases.
Prevention of Cancer
Lower SIDS rate
Fewer digestive problems.

There is so many more benefits of breastfeeding. I say if there was a safe way of providing breastmilk, and guaranteeing the quality and drug free status of said milk for sale then we should do so. But for now, It is not safe.

Anonymous said...

i am looking to sell my breast milk how would i do that?

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm Sara. I have a 6 week old baby that I am breast feeding. I am a healthy 27 year old. I do not smoke, drink, or eat unhealthy foods. I have 2 healthy children and have no health issues. I plan to pump for a year, so I would like to find a regular customer for my excess milk.

Cost is negotiable per month or per ounce.

Email me at