Is It Safe to Buy Breast Milk?

Is It Safe to Buy Breast Milk?

It could be, but it’s always a gamble. Do you really know what’s in it?

So, you’re nursing. Congratulations! Breastfeeding your own baby is a natural and healthy way to provide your infant with the nutrients it needs. It can also give them a solid basis for a great immune system.

But what about offering your milk to someone else’s child? It does happen-and that’s a good thing.

Throughout history, wet nurses have allowed babies to survive and thrive when their own birth mother couldn’t produce any milk. Before baby formula was invented, it was the only way to go.

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And in other historical cases, a mother from the upper classes may not have wanted to breastfeed her own child, as some saw it as a time-consuming social inconvenience. And so, for better or for worse, they hired someone else to do it.

But wet nurses are hard to come by these days and the invention of the Internet has changed the milk market.

Bacteria and Disease

Buying breast milk online can expose your child to harmful contaminants.

If you’re friend or relative trusts you and you’re in good health, giving away some fresh breast milk could be fine. Buying it though, is another matter. Why?

The FDA doesn’t have standards in place to regulate the safety of human milk on the market. Human milk bought online can contain bacteria, it might actually be cow’s milk or milk from another source as was found in 10% of cases in a study published in the journal Pediatrics, and it could be contaminated with illnesses such as HIV. As a recipient, you have no way of knowing what’s in it, really.

And then there’s the nutritional benefits, or possible lack thereof. Some experts are skeptical as to whether or not milk pumped out of someone who isn’t the birth mother, is actually beneficial to an infant.

This milk has often been frozen and thawed out, killing off the benefits. If it’s pasteurized, it loses many of the keys it can provide to the immune system, and some of it’s necessary fat.

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That being said, many women swear by others’ milk. Human milk banks abound and thousands of people use them. According to, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America distributed about 4.4 million ounces of human milk to hospitals treating premature babies in 2016, and the numbers keep growing.

Not sure about buying it, or sourcing your milk from strangers, but hoping to avoid formula?

Your best bet could be to source milk from someone you know personally. Learn their medical history and ask them to divulge facts on their current health and lifestyle. If they become sick, or start taking medications, you should be aware of it.

Talk to your doctor about your possibilities and do what’s best for your child. For more information on the issue, click here.

Photo credits: bunyarit/

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