[Updated February 22, 2017]
Breast milk donation is one of the greatest and most powerful ways women can help other women. But there are many things people don’t know about this selfless act. We’ve got the lowdown on milk banks, who is able to donate their breast milk, and how to start donating.
What is a milk bank?
A milk bank is a formal location where women can donate their breast milk to mothers and babies who need it most. There are currently 11 milk banks in the U.S. and Canada, and most of them are located within hospitals across the continent. These banks are monitored and run by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Many of the recipients of donated milk are premature babies in the NICU whose mothers haven’t begun lactating yet. Additional recipients include newborns who have gastrointestinal problems and other illnesses, babies who have been adopted and babies whose mothers cannot breastfeed for one reason or another.
Who can donate?
Anyone who is lactating can be a donor! Many donors are moms who have a natural surplus of their own breast milk. Women who have given their child up for adoption, women who have had a miscarriage and women who were surrogates for another family are all possible candidates for donation as well.
How can I start donating my milk?
Locate a milk bank near you to start donating. After you get in contact with the bank, you will have to go through a few preliminary tests and health screenings. Here are some guidelines to make sure your milk is healthy and ready to donate:
- You must be in good overall health
- You can’t be taking certain types of medication (for a list of medications that are safe, contact your local milk bank)
- You must be willing to have blood drawn
- You’re able to donate 100 ounces of milk or more to your local bank
Don’t worry – if there isn’t a milk bank near you, most will offer overnight shipping to the closest bank at no charge to the donor. You just have to freeze your milk before it ships.
Overall, donating your breast milk not only benefits the baby receiving your donation, but it can also be beneficial for you!
What are your thoughts on breast milk donation? Would you donate your breast milk? Let us know in the comments!