A mom who donated 65 liters of breast milk to strangers has revealed how she was inundated with requests from “creepy" men wanting her to nurse them.
After welcoming baby Lynnlee, her first child with her husband Colby, Michele Oller, soon found herself with a freezer full of surplus milk.
Wanting to put it to good use, she took to the internet and found a website dedicated to selling breast milk.
Lynnlee and Michele (Kali Morrison/KMPHOTO)
Uploading a post advertising the 14 gallons she had available, she thought she would connect with fellow moms.
But instead, she received an influx of disturbing requests from men.
“One site I used was full of strange men. I highly doubt they wanted the milk for their babies," Oller said.
Colby and Michele (Kali Morrison/KMPHOTO)
“A few of them asked me for photos, which was creepy enough in itself, and said a lot about their motives," she said.
“I also got a couple of requests from men asking if I would physically nurse them."
When two months passed and she had still not received a single genuine request from a concerned parent, Oller took her advert down.
Luckily, 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," she said.
“If someone has a surplus, there are plenty of babies out there in need."
Michele and Lynnlee (PA Real Life/Collect)
Shortly after giving birth to Lynnlee, Oller realized 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.
Michele has decided to breast feed Lynnlee indefinitely (PA Real Life/Collect)
“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."
“I was going back to work around the same time and would have been exposed to all kinds of germs and bugs. I wanted do whatever I could to protect Lynnlee."
“When I found out my breast milk contained natural antibodies, I knew I had to keep it up."
But, even with her newfound determination to breastfeed Lynnlee indefinitely, Oller was producing so much milk that it was clear she was not going to get through it all.
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.
Michele and Lynnlee (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I spoke to a friend of mine, who is a neonatal nurse, and she told me all about breast milk donation," she said.
“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, Oller immediately looked into it. Only to discover that her nearest bank was 120 miles away in Texas.
Searching online instead, she found a website dedicated to selling breast milk.
Feeling uncomfortable about making a profit, she listed hers at $1 per ounce.
Soon, her inbox was filling up with requests from interested buyers, but they were not all mothers.
“I was expecting people to need the milk for newborn babies," she recalled. “Instead it was weird men with even weirder requests."
In April 2020, Oller found an alternative in the form of volunteer network Human Milk 4 Human Babies, joining one of their Facebook groups specifically for moms in Oklahoma.
Lynnlee (PA Real Life/Collection)
“Straight away I knew this was the right place to donate my milk," she said.
“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 and my husband didn't bat an eyelid either – he was just happy to see the milk put to good use."
Lynnlee is now 16 months old (PA Real Life/Collect)
Within 24 hours of posting that she had 65 liters of milk available, Oller had seven parents message her in need of help.
“I figured, 'Why not split it evenly across all seven?'" she said.
“So, I split it into seven trash bags – although it ended up being split between five parents, as two didn't turn up."
And she was motivated by their stories.
“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," she said.
Hoping to encourage other new mums to donate surplus breast milk whenever possible, Oller believes it is one of the most rewarding things she has ever done.
Michele's freezer, full of milk (PA Real Life/Collect)
“Everyone deserves access to breast milk if their baby needs it," she said.