Etsy stores are capitalizing on a new trend: breastfeeding moms who want to memorialize their nursing experience with keepsakes made from their own breast milk.
New mothers in search of baby keepsakes flock to Etsy.com for everything from fingerprint pendants to custom artwork. But for those moms who want to get even more personal with their purchases, the craft site now features stores selling jewelry handmade from mama's own breast milk.
One of these stores, MommyMilk Creations, is the brainchild of Rhode Island mom Allicia Mogavero, who got the idea from nursing her own three children, ages 7, 6 and 16 months.
After breastfeeding her son, Mogavero says she was "looking for a way to preserve the moment. It only lasts so long. [Breastfeeding] was really hard in the beginning … It didn't come easily for me."
And stopping, she says, "was bittersweet."
Mogavero, 34, decided to find a way to preserve her own breast milk and developed a five-step process to "plasticize" it into beads to use in jewelry. She soon found herself taking requests from relatives and friends and began selling the jewelry at her Etsy store in 2012.
These days she can barely keep up with the demand. "I didn’t expect it to go as big as it has," she said. "It's pretty crazy. I am at capacity."
Moms wishing to purchase a breast milk pendant, which ranges in price from $64 to $125, must send Mogavero a few tablespoons of breast milk in a breast milk storage bag. Buyers can choose from breast milk bead shapes ranging from hearts to stars to half-moons. Her best-selling item is a bronze bezel pendent with a child's name inscribed, which sells for $76.
Mogavero isn't surprised that moms want to memorialize such an important and fleeting experience. "It's a short period of your life," she said. "It's not an easy thing. People like to remember."
“Nursing this baby has been, in the thirty years I've been alive, my favorite thing I've ever done," she wrote in a poignant post titled "On the End of Nursing." "Not the best, not the most impressive … but my very most, most, most favorite, and such an honor. I feel so blessed to have had these years as a nursing mother. I am so horribly sad to see it end. A part of me is in mourning. A part of me is gone."
But not every breastfeeding mom thinks you need to mark every baby milestone with a physical memento.
"You're telling me I can wear my breast milk without the inconvenience of spilling it all over myself first? Sold!" joked Alice Gomstyn, a blogger for Babble.com who is currently nursing her second baby. "I'll just hang the pendant in my jewelry box next to my umbilical cord bracelet and baby toenail clipping earrings."
For her part, Mogavero says she isn't offended by people who say breast milk jewelry is gross.
"It's not for everyone," she said. "I wouldn't expect everyone to love the idea. To each his own."