The Power of Breast Milk Donation

February 22, 2017
The Power of Breast Milk Donation

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 it. We’ve got the lowdown on milk banks, who is able to donate 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 26 non-profit milk banks in the U.S. and Canada. 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 built up a sufficient supply yet. Additional recipients include newborns who have gastrointestinal problems and other illnesses, babies who have been adopted and babies whose mothers cannot breast milk feed.

Who can donate?                                                                           

Anyone who is lactating can be a potential 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 or stillbirth 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. If you might be a potential donor, here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • You must be in good overall health
  • You can’t be taking certain types of medication (contact your local milk bank for a list)
  • You must be willing to have blood drawn
  • You’re able to donate 100 oz. of milk or more to your local bank

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.

Are online milk sharing communities the same as milk banks?  

Milk donation is a wonderful and generous act, but if you are a mom who needs breast milk for your own baby, we urge you to go through an official milk bank instead of receiving breast milk from a friend or through online communities. While casual milk sharing communities have the best intentions, breast milk has potential to carry certain bacteria and viruses (as well as drugs and/or alcohol), and the handling of donated milk is not officialy regulated through these groups. In addition to requiring a formal screening process for all breast milk donations, milk banks also pasteurize all breast milk before it is passed onto babies who need it to ensure it is safe.

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!

7 thoughts on “The Power of Breast Milk Donation

  1. I am a ‘casual’ breastmilk donor because I produce more than my daughter needs. So far I have been able to help 5 babies whose moms simply don’t produce enough. These babies would otherwise be on supplemental formula. I use a well-established and respected milk donation group, Human Milk 4 Human Babies, to connect with local moms in need. While not officially recommended, it is a wonderful group that I am proud to belong to.

  2. I donated milk that I pumped while my son was in the NICU. It was a really easy process. I wish donor milk had been an option for my 35 weekend until my milk came in.

  3. I currently donate in memory of my twins girls that passed away at three days old. I donate through a paid milk bank (ni-q& tiny treasures are the only ones open to all mothers ). This has been a way to help others during my loss and know that something good is coming out of them being here. I used the money i got from my milk donation to make a big donation in my daughters memory to a research fundation for the condition they had (twin to twin). So not only am I helping other mother’s feed their babies, I am also helping to prevent other mother’s to be in the same situation I am in.
    I recommend milk donation to anyone who is pumping and had a surplus. It’s such an amazing thing to do.

  4. I have over 300 oz. That I would like to donate. It is all frozen at the moment. I don’t smoke. I don’t do drugs. And I don’t have pets. I’m just trying to find someone that can use it all. Please help and thanks in advance.

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