Breast milk jewelry for mothers weaning their babies
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Alma Partida knew her breastfeeding journey would end in June. She had breastfed her daughter, Alessa, for almost 18 months – longer than most mothers in the United States – and the process had not been easy.
First there was the birth of Alessa, by emergency cesarean, in February 2020. In the hospital after an operation, Ms. Partida had difficulty breastfeeding. Once she and her daughter were discharged, breastfeeding was still difficult.
“It was a very long trip,” said Ms. Partida, a 29-year-old speech-language pathologist in Watsonville, California. Now that that was over, she wanted to find a way to mark him.
While browsing the posts of a parental Facebook group, Ms. Partida came across an unusual but appropriate souvenir: a pendant containing a white stone. The main ingredient? Breastmilk.
She knew she had to have one.
This may be the first time you’ve heard of breast milk jewelry, a niche in the memorial market. But there are plenty of precedents for knick-knacks and wearable items that contain organic material. Human hair earrings and brooches were popular during the Victorian era. More recently, synthetic diamonds have been made from cremation ashes. It is also common for parents to keep the umbilical cord and baby teeth.
For her own piece, Ms. Partida shipped around 10 milliliters of breast milk to a company called Keepsakes by Grace. About a month later, she received a milky white heart pendant in the mail.
“This is the last drop,” Ms. Partida said. “This is the last thing you have to remember on the trip. “
Brooklyn lactation consultant Freda Rosenfeld said she understood the impulse to commemorate the experience.
“For many people, breastfeeding is an extremely special and important time in their lives,” said Rosenfeld. “A lot of times when they wean themselves it’s a little sad, because it was such a special time.”
Sarah Castillo, the owner of Keepsakes by Grace, said her customers often buy her parts after experiencing difficulties breastfeeding.
“A lot of my orders come from customers who are going through a tough time or who are weaning and are not yet ready,” said Ms. Castillo, 25, who lives in Tucson, Arizona. comes from there, almost like a desire to continue but either they cannot or they have decided that it is time to stop.
Ms Castillo launched her line in March after seeing similar products on Instagram. She experimented with her own breast milk for months, before stumbling upon a method that involves dehydrating the solution to make a powder, then mixing the powder with resin to make a stone. Its parts typically cost between $ 60 and $ 150.
“Jewelry is already really sentimental,” Ms. Castillo said, but in the case of jewelry made from breast milk, “it’s literally a memory”.
Ann Marie Sharoupim, founder of Mamma’s Liquid Love, said her customers have similar motivations when they buy her breast milk jewelry. Ms Sharoupim, who has a doctorate in pharmacy and lives in Rutherford, NJ, sells earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings with breast milk stones. They are priced from $ 90 to $ 1,500. This year, she says, she sold nearly 4,000 pieces.
“People want jewelry that has meaning now,” said Ms. Sharoupim, 34.
She recommends that buyers treat their jewelry like a pearl, taking care to keep it dry and limiting its exposure to chemicals. Once a customer places an order on their website, Ms. Sharoupim will send them instructions on how best to send half an ounce of breast milk to the company.
For some parents, jewelry made from breast milk can also be a way to cope with loss.
Rebecca Zuick, a software development student in San Antonio, purchased a ring with a stone made from her breast milk in February 2017, both to celebrate the end of breastfeeding for her son, Asher, and to make in the face of the stillbirth she experienced. in July 2015.
“For me, trying to make jewelry from breast milk, it was a way to hold on to the memory and the legacy of the child that I could not breastfeed, because it was milk they would have been able to have had they survived, ”said Ms. Zuick, 31.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization both recommend breastfeeding infants for the first six months of life. However, for many mothers, it is untenable because of the work; the United States is one of the few countries in the world that does not have paid maternity leave.
Jacqueline Wolf, professor of medical history at Ohio University and author of a 2001 book on the decline of breastfeeding in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, noted that for Most mothers who are able to breastfeed during these first few months are those with paid maternity leave or flexible work schedules.
“Most women don’t have jobs like this,” Dr. Wolf said. “I think this gem is also a bit symbolic of this injustice.”
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