I have two children (pictured above because every mom tries to sneak in a picture of her kids to show off their cuteness) and I was blessed with the ability to breastfeed them both. I adored being able to feed them and I was lucky that I never struggled to provide breast milk for them, in fact, I had an over abundance and chose to donate. Could I have sold it? Absolutely, but I chose to seek out other women who desperately needed the milk and didn't have the funds to pay for it through a hospital. Anyone have a problem with that? Probably not.
But what if I were poor? That's where we run into a tricky ethical issue. As a feminist I want to scream, "You go mama! Sell that liquid gold and make some money!" while at the same time saying, "You are not a cow! You are reinforcing gender, social, and economic inequalities!" See the dilemma?
So know that we have a established the dilemma lets talk about the solution. The other problem is that there isn't one. There are advocacy groups that address both sides of this argument, a few are the NABA, DonateMilk, and the BMBFA. When most people think about breastfeeding advocacy groups they imagine a group of women going into an establishment that asked a breastfeeding mother to cover up and staging a "nurse" in or protest, but mostly they are just trying to look out for the mothers. The executive director of BMBFA made the following statement when an Oregon based pharmaceutical company offered to pay women for their breast milk, "...it reeks of exploitation." Below is a news story were these exact concerns are addressed.
Because of the nature of this ethical issue, there will likely never be a clear cut solution or agreement on how commodifying breast milk should be addressed, but that doesn't mean we should stop talking about it.
Reflecting on the texts we've read this semester, I think the most important thing for health-care providers and caregivers to know and remember is that we are all different. We all have a different back story and different needs (physically, emotionally, and mentally) and our care should be as tailored to who we are and our needs as possibly.