A Florida mum has earned close to $20,000 selling her breast milk online.
Julie Dennis gave birth to a surrogate baby in August 2019. After the infant turned six months old and no longer needed her breast milk, the 32-year-old came up with an entrepreneurial idea: selling her breast milk.
The primary school teacher prices the milk at 90c (60p) per ounce (nearly 30ml), aimed at other families who are also raising a surrogate baby and parents who don’t want to or aren’t able to breastfeed.
While investing a large part of her life in producing the milk, even calling it a ‘full-time job’, others have been critical of Julie for selling it.
The mum-of-two explained:
I have a perfectly good uterus and perfectly good milk so I may as well use it. It’s not completely money-oriented, but I make sure it’s worth it for me and my family.
I get comments that shame me for asking for compensation for my time spent pumping, because a lot of people think it’s free for me to make so why would I charge for it. I spend hours a day hooked up to my pump daily which is time away from my family.
Naturally, Julie has to take proper precautions when handling the milk, ensuring she keeps her pumps clean and properly bagged between each use. ‘It is a lot of work to exclusively pump and it is a labour of love,’ she said. So far, she’s provided milk for two babies until they turned one.
I wouldn’t go into the store and assume I can get free formula, so it baffles me that people expect free breast milk… it has antibodies and its human milk made for human babies, but it’s a lot more expensive than formula.
Even charging one dollar per ounce I get paid less than minimum wage once you add up all the time spent on it. That’s not to include replacement of pump parts every six to eight weeks, the cost of bags, the cost of the sterilisation units and four different pumps that I use.
Every month, Julie pumps 15,000 ounces (443 litres). She keeps it secure in the freezer before shipping it all over the country with ice packs. ‘For the first six months or so I just used it in addition to my income from work to pay bills and manage my household. The last six months I have just tucked it away in a savings account for a rainy-day fund,’ she said.
Unfortunately, she does get requests from unsavoury customers, like men asking for proof the milk is hers. ‘They usually request videos or pictures which is absolutely unacceptable. I have always just blocked people once a request like that is made,’ she added.
While conceding she’s only ‘built a little savings account’, Julie is providing a valuable service for those who need it.
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