A mum who donated 65 litres of breast milk to help other mothers, has opened up about the unusual requests she’s received from men wanting her to nurse them.
After welcoming her first child, baby Lynnlee, in February 2019, Michele Oller, 34, soon found herself with a freezer full of surplus breast milk.
Wanting to put it to good use, the pharmacist from Oklahoma, in the US, found a website dedicated to selling breast milk.
After sharing a post advertising the milk she had available, the new mum thought she would connect with fellow mothers, but she also received a whole host of requests from men.
“One site I used was full of strange men,” she explains. “I highly doubt they wanted the milk for their babies.”
“A few of them asked me for photos, which was creepy enough in itself, and said a lot about their motives.
“I also got a couple of requests from men asking if I would physically nurse them.”
After two months passed, Oller still hadn’t received a single genuine request from another mum about the milk, so she decided to take her advert down.
Thankfully, she stumbled upon the Facebook group Human Milk 4 Human Babies, through which she found five parents to donate to.
“It’s such a rewarding thing to do, and what really struck me is how many more women are looking for donations than there are women making them,” Oller explains.
“If someone has a surplus, there are plenty of babies out there in need.”
Shortly after giving birth to Lynnlee, the new mum realised she was producing more breast milk than required.
To prevent the surplus going to waste, she began storing it in her freezer.
Initially, she had planned to nurse Lynnlee for six months, but when she reached that milestone in August 2019, she decided to keep going.
“I had planned on weaning after six months, like a lot of other mothers,” she said. “But after doing some research about the role breast milk can play – particularly in helping babies fight off infection – I decided I wanted to carry on.”
But, even with her newfound determination to continue to breastfeed, Michele was producing so much milk that it was clear her daughter wasn’t going to be able to use it all.
Expressing, on average, seven surplus litres per month, by November last year, her freezer was full to the brim.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, freshly expressed milk must only be stored for 12 months in the freezer, so Michele began to worry it would go to waste.
“I spoke to a friend of mine, who is a neonatal nurse, and she told me all about breast milk donation,” she explains.
“It turned out I could help other mums who couldn’t nurse for whatever reason, but still wanted their babies to have breast milk rather than formula.
“I had no idea about it, which seems ridiculous because it makes so much sense.”
Excited at the prospect of being able to donate her milk, Michele immediately looked into it – only to discover that her nearest bank was 120 miles away.
But, having searched online, she found a website dedicated to selling breast milk.
Feeling uncomfortable about making a profit, she listed hers at $1(81p) per ounce.
Soon her inbox was filling up with requests from interested parties, but she soon discovered they weren’t the new mothers she was expecting.
“I was expecting people to need the milk for newborn babies,” she recalled. “Instead it was weird men with even weirder requests.”
Thankfully, in April this year, Oller found an alternative in the form of volunteer network Human Milk 4 Human Babies, and joined one of their local Facebook groups.
“Straight away I knew this was the right place to donate my milk,” she explains.
“The group is specifically tailored to finding milk for newborns and you have to be approved by admin before you can enter.
“I felt so much more comfortable about the whole thing.”
Within 24 hours of posting about the milk she had available – almost enough to fill a bath - Michele had five parents messaging her in need of help.
“One lady told me she was picking the milk up for a single dad who had lost his wife and the mother of his baby, which made the whole thing feel all the more worthwhile.”
The mum now hopes to encourage other new mums to donate surplus breast milk, whenever possible, and says it is one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.
“Everyone deserves access to breast milk if their baby needs it,” she adds.
Additional reporting PA Real Life.