If you have ever considered donating your extra breastmilk, here’s a guide for all you need to know.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants under 6 months old be exclusively fed with their mother’s milk. But we know there are many circumstances that may cause a mother’s milk to not be available for her baby. It is recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that if “after consultation with a healthcare provider, one decides to feed her baby with human milk from another source, she should only use milk from a source that has screened its milk donors and taken other precautions to ensure the safety of its milk.”
How can I donate breastmilk?
- Find a milk bank. You may have one near you. If not, many milk banks welcome donations shipped, with their provided storage and shipping guidelines. You can find a list of milk banks accepting donations here (https://www.hmbana.org/find-a-milk-bank/)
2. Once you have selected a milk bank, be sure that you are willing and able to comply with the guidelines they set forth. Most milk banks require that you:
– Are confident you have a well-established milk supply that meets your infant’s needs.
-Are willing to donate milk in large batches (usually around 100 oz)
-Have been cleared of any medical conditions that would prevent you from donating blood
– Are less than 18 months postpartum
– Are willing to follow strict and careful hygiene and storage guidelines
– Will limit your caffeine and alcohol intake
– Do not take more than the Recommend Daily Amount of approved supplements (check with your milk bank for a list)
This is a general list, check with your milk bank for specific requirements.
3. Once you have selected the milk bank, contact them for a screening call. One of their staff members will take your information, and if you are approved, will get you set up with a health screening through your physician. Many milk banks cover the cost of the screening.
Once you are approved, start donating!
If you have breastmilk already stored in your freezer, talk to the milk bank you choose about whether it is possible to donate it. Unless it follows their preparation and storage guidelines, it is unlikely you will be able to donate milk already saved, but it’s always worth asking.
Can I receive donor milk for my baby?
Breastmilk donated to milk banks is generally prioritized to medically-fragile infants. Many milk banks require a prescription to receive milk. While most milk banks are not-for-profit, there may be some fees associated with the processing of milk. Check with your milk bank to find out if financial assistance is available or if they are able to take insurance. Donor milk may be covered by your insurance, but you need to check with your insurance provider to see if your policy includes that coverage.
For many milk banks, donor milk is given to babies at the highest risk. Donated milk may be prioritized for NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) or pediatric units at hospitals.
Is donor milk safe?
Once a milk bank receives donations the milk is processed and safely pasteurized. While the FDA is not currently involved in establishing guidelines or standards, there are nonprofit organizations like the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) that have issued safety guidelines for member banks on screening donors, collecting, processing, storage, and handling of donor milk.
The FDA strongly advises against donated milk from any other source than a milk bank. “When human milk is obtained directly from individuals or through the Internet, the donor is unlikely to have been adequately screened for infectious disease or contamination risk. In addition, it is not likely that the human milk has been collected, processed, tested, or stored in a way that reduces possible safety risks to the baby.”
Donated breastmilk is a wonderful health tool to protect at-risk infants or those who are unable to receive their mother’s own milk or tolerate formula. Choosing to donate your extra breastmilk is a sacrifice that does not go unnoticed by those in need. If you have any questions about donating milk or other infant-feeding concerns, please talk to your lactation professional and pediatrician. You can always reach Kiinde’s IBCLC and lactation team by email at [email protected]