Chinese moms are earning some extra bucks by selling their own breast milk online.
Currently, human breast milk can be found on different online platforms in China despite the fact that selling it is technically illegal, according to West China City Daily (via SCMP).
While typical prices of the milk range from 15 yuan ($2.25) to 60 yuan ($9), a 250 ml bag of fresh breast milk bought on the same day can cost as much as 150 yuan ($22).
The practice has reportedly gone on for years now and is expected to become more widespread as demand for breast milk continues to grow. The birth rate in the country has increased in recent years. Just last year, the figure reached its highest level since 2000 at nearly 17.9 million.
It is important to note that the health ministry currently does not categorize it as a food that can be produced or sold as a commodity, making buying and selling breast milk technically illegal. Still, online postings of the “contraband” have become increasingly common in recent years.
Li Xixi from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, like many moms in China, produces more milk than her baby can consume. The new mom says she is often left with three to four 250ml bags of milk daily after feeding her child. Instead of letting it go to waste, she’d rather earn some extra money.
“Every day, earning two to three hundred yuan shouldn’t be a problem,” she was quoted as saying. “Over a six-month lactation period, one can ideally earn tens of thousands of yuan without a problem.”
A local employee who earns some extra money by brokering breast milk sales for others revealed that there are mothers who could earn between 7,000 ($1,030) and 8,000 yuan ($1,177) in a good month. Mothers reportedly use different techniques to capitalize in the market, with some deciding to end breastfeeding to their own children early to focus on selling, while others eat foods that help in boosting lactation.
Since the trade of human milk is unregulated, most cautious sellers require sources to provide birth certificates or proof of address to be safe. Still, some have voiced concerns over the storage of breast milk, which may expose the product to infectious diseases.
A Chendu doctor named Chen Yi also warned that while breast milk had natural advantages over milk powder, the difference in the age of consuming the milk from the child birthed by the mother may result in the child not being able to absorb the nutrition properly.
A daily dose of Asian America's essential stories, in under 5 minutes.
Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories to your inbox daily for free.
Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive.