Get That Money is an exploration of the many ways we think about our finances — what we earn, what we have, and what we want. In Secret Side Hustles, we talk to people with “normal” jobs who make extra cash on the sly. Here, a nurse explains her side gig selling her own breast milk online.
After I had a baby and started breastfeeding, my supply came in very well. I had an overabundance of milk, and I kept pumping so that my body was producing even more. I kept it all saved in the freezer. My thought was, “Oh well, I’ll probably need that one day.” I had no idea that it was okay to slow down and not pump so much.
I was at a gathering for moms when a woman told me I should consider donating or selling my milk. I didn’t think she was serious because I hadn’t heard of it before. But this is my first time being a mom, and once you have a child, you start seeing your body in terms of what it can do, as a tool. Still, it was a foreign concept to me. I was like, “Are there moms out there who are so crunchy that they won’t give their baby formula?” Then I did some research and realized that there are people who really need it, like mothers with premature babies.
I joined a breastfeeding moms group on Facebook and sure enough, there was a woman asking if anyone had extra breast milk they’d be willing to part with, because she couldn’t produce. I think the fact it was on Facebook helped it feel less creepy. You can see exactly who you are selling to, so there was some accountability. You can also see clearly if it is indeed a woman with a newborn. (There are some men with a fetish for real breast milk.)
We met at a public place and she had her baby with her. We talked a bit about my overall health and diet. I also brought my daughter so I could show the other mom how chunky she was. The woman asked if we could do a deal where she’d pay me weekly so that she didn’t have to use formula. I saw her at the end of each week and gave her at least 40 ounces a week for $1 an ounce. I sold to her for about four months, so that was an extra $200 a month. I was leaking anyways, so I figured I could at least get paid for it. I could have asked for more. Mothers who have an organic or vegan diet will charge up to $3 per ounce but I’m just not that sort of woman. I’m going to have a donut or a steak if I want it.
I also started pumping for other moms who didn’t need it as regularly. Some would take what they could get, and others just wanted it to see them through a few weeks or so. I didn’t want to ship because I didn’t want to give out my address. I got all my buyers from that Facebook page and delivered it frozen, locally. I’d usually take my husband with me for safety, just in case.
Then, when my baby was about 6 months old, my husband and I moved to a different city. I wanted to keep selling, but the new city didn’t have the same sort of Facebook group. I searched online and found a website where women can advertise their breast milk, so I put up an advertisement. That experience was different.
One of the first people to contact me was a woman who said she lived in my area. We messaged and she told me she was also a nurse and could come and pick up the very next day. Then she said, “Just to make sure that you’re not a creeper, can you send me a photo?” I was taken aback, but then thought about it and realized that if she’s going to be feeding her baby my milk she probably wants to know that I’m legit. So I said okay.
Then she asked for a picture of me breastfeeding my baby. She said, “That way I will know that you are who you say you are and you’re not just mixing formula.” My first thought was, “Oh my God! Do people do that?” I asked her to send me one of her and her kid, too. She sent me a picture of a very beautiful woman who looked to be in her 20s, holding a baby. So, my husband took a photo of me breastfeeding. I have a blanket covering most of it but you can see that there’s a baby up against my chest.
The woman replied immediately and said “That’s sweet, but like I said before, I’m a nurse and I want to make sure it’s all copacetic. Can I get a look at your chest area?” I asked her to send me a selfie of her doing the same thing, just to be safe. So she did. It was a pretty mom and she’s breastfeeding a baby, but it didn’t really look like the same person who was in the first photo. I showed my husband and he wasn’t sure either. Still, I had my husband take another picture and I used little emojis to cover my baby’s face and my boobs. I sent that and she replied saying, “Thanks, but look, I really can’t see your breast tissue. I need to see the breast in full.”
That’s when I realized it wasn’t a woman at all, and the picture he sent me was probably one that another scammed mom had sent to him. I lost it. I confronted him and he didn’t even try and lie, he just wrote, “LOL well, you caught me. But I just think you’re beautiful, and f you send me pictures of your boobs with the milk I’ll be happy to pay extra.” I couldn’t believe it. I deleted my listing after that.