Look in your baby's nursery. Chances are you'll see a few, or more than few, keepsakes. Tiny footprints in ink hanging on the wall. A lock of hair tucked away in a small box.
Maybe you wear his or her initials around your neck to keep your baby close. Or perhaps you keep your breast milk around your neck instead.
Breast milk jewelry, said Rebecca Michals, director of global community at parenting website BabyCenter, is the latest emerging trend among new and nursing moms. And if you do a search for "breast milk jewelry" Etsy, you will find no fewer than 70 vendors willing to make this keepsake for you.
Olga Grove, a mother of two from central Pennsylvania, is one of the moms who's preserving her breast milk in the form of jewelry that holds the liquid. Her daughter, now nearly 1, is still nursing and although Grove will allow her daughter to self-wean, she already sees the frequency slowing down. And it has made her nostalgic.
"We don't have plans for any more children," she said, "and I'm getting sentimental. I truly enjoy nursing."
She said her daughter was a colicky baby and had a dairy allergy for nearly eight months. Nursing was one of the few peaceful times they spent together. "I almost went insane," she said. "She just cried and cried. Nursing calmed her down."
Once the mom finds a reputable breast milk jewelry maker, the process is simple. Just package up a bit of breast milk and send it along to the maker. In a few weeks, you'll get back your milk pendant.
Grove said she paid about $80 and shipped off about one ounce of breast milk. She was told the color of the bead would vary slightly, depending on the color of her milk. So she chose fatty milk that tends to be whiter. She hasn't received her pendant yet, but expects it to be a white bead.
But breast-milk-as-jewelry isn't for every mom.
"Ewww, who wants to wear curdled milk around one's neck," said Mari Tuten, blogger from popular parenting website Babble.com. "Seriously, motherhood is full of wonderful memories for us to cherish but I prefer to stick to keepsakes like a bronze shoe."
On the other hand, Michals of BabyCenter said, "Maybe it's not all that different than any keepsake, the first lock of hair or the first lost tooth."
Tuten said she "would be embarrassed to tell someone that inside this locket is my breast milk. It's not as weird as walking around with your child's dried umbilical cord around my neck, but it comes close."
Grove, the Pennsylvania mother, said she, too, was initially grossed out. But she has changed her mind and thinks of the necklace as a personal thing.
"I don't have to tell anyone what it is, and if someone asks, I may tell them," she said. "But it just looks like a white bead."
- breast milk