Hudson on ITV’s “This Morning.” Photo by REX USA/Ken McKay/ITV/Rex
Parents will go to great lengths during the holiday season to raise extra cash for Christmas gifts. One recent poll even found that nearly a third of moms and dads will work overtime to pay for presents this year. But one British mom has found a quicker way to save: She’s selling her breast milk online.
Mom of four Rebecca Hudson, 26, told ITV’s This Morning that she is selling her breast milk for a whopping $20 per 5-ounce bottle, which has earned her a total of $4,750 this year, according to the New York Daily News. Her eight regular clients include chefs using her milk as an ingredient and bodybuilders looking for extra protein.
“What they do with the milk is up to them; I’m not going to discriminate,” Hudson told This Morning.
Hudson’s youngest, Milly, was born 10 weeks early, and Hudson said she originally had trouble producing milk. But eventually it started arriving in “bucket loads,” she said, much more than Milly could drink or than Hudson could store in her freezer. Hudson says she tried to donate the milk to a local hospital but was told they didn’t need it, so she decided to go the online route after learning that it was a booming business in the U.S. “I didn’t want to pour it away because it takes a lot of work to produce breast milk,” she said. “It takes energy and time.”
But prospective buyers — whether they are new moms with low milk supplies, chefs, or bodybuilders — should think twice about purchasing milk online, says Dr. Maureen Groer, a professor and lactation researcher at the University of South Florida College of Nursing. “When women donate to milk banks, those samples are highly regulated,” Groer tells Yahoo Parenting. “The women are tested for viruses like HIV and hepatitis. And the milk is handled carefully – it’s pasteurized, it’s pooled, and it’s flash-frozen, and delivered frozen to the hospitals that use it.”
Milk sold online, on the other hand, isn’t regulated at all, explains Groer. “There’s no way to know what diseases the woman who pumped the milk might have. How did she pump it? Were the pump parts sterile? Were the bottles used to store it sterile? Milk is a wonderful medium for bacterial growth if it’s not properly managed,” Groer says. “People are taking great risk when they buy from a donor online — especially if they are giving that milk to a baby.”
The business of selling breast milk over the Internet has grown significantly in the past year, Groer says. Websites like Onlythebreast.com allow women to advertise their milk at whatever price they choose, and sell to whomever they choose. In May, one male athlete told The Cut that he buys breast milk for the “incredible energy I don’t get from other food,” and typically pays $2.50 per ounce. “I want natural stuff that’s God-given, and if it’s ok with moms looking to get rid of it, I’ll take it.”
Groer says the practice of selling breast milk online is nearly impossible to regulate, so people should just stop doing it. She fears that it will take a tragedy — like a baby or another client contracting a disease — for organizations like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Centers for Disease Control to get involved. In the meantime, she says, “People have to be reasonable when taking risks.