Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Donating breast milk

One of the best side effects of being an overproducing mom is the ability to donate milk.  I have stashed in the deep-freeze at least 100 oz. of milk per month since September—some months up to 200 oz. or more, depending on Sam’s appetite.   Since I don’t plan to quit pumping, I decided to donate my extra.  

My freezer stash
In the US, there are two ways to do this.  The first time I donated, I connected with a mom of an adopted baby through  I shared some basic info about my diet and documents showing I was HIV/HEP negative.  She sent me everything I needed to ship the frozen milk—cooler, coolpacks, etc.—and I just packed it up and shipped it at her expense.  Her adopted baby enjoyed about 250 oz. of milk, probably a week or two’s supply.

The other way to donate is through a milk bank. Donor moms are tested for disease and are screened for other factors, such as medications.  The milk is then processed at a lab and dispensed by a doctor’s prescription.  According to the Human Milk Banking Association of North America, “Common reasons for prescribing donor milk include prematurity, allergies, feeding/formula intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, post-operative nutrition, infectious diseases, and inborn errors of metabolism.” According to the World Health Organization, "Breast milk is particularly important for pre-term infants and the small proportion of term infants with very low birth weight; they are at increased risk of infection, long-term ill-health, and death."

Last week I had my phone screening with the Mothers’ Milk Bank at Austin, Texas (the closest bank accepting out-of-state donors).  Next they will send me paperwork to fill out and an order to have blood drawn at a lab close to me.  Once my results are verified, they will send me packaging and instructions to ship the milk.  I’ll get some dry ice, package up the bags of milk, and send it off.  This may seem like a lot of effort, but compared against the option of NOT helping sick babies with milk I don’t need, it seems manageable. 

Donating milk to an adopted baby was an immensely rewarding experience, because he will have the benefits of human milk, even if just for a short while, and the milk (and all my efforts to pump it) did not go to waste.  Donating to a bank may be even more rewarding since the babies who will eventually receive it may have a better chance at health because of it. I consider myself fortunate to be able to help other human beings in a way that most people never could.

– Premature recipient’s mom

 8 oz. of frozen milk


  1. oh! yay! way to go! It's funny because I was JUST thinking abuot this exact thing. The way things are going I probably won't be working much longer and that means the big stash I have in there won't be needed, save for a few, plus I won't be pumping any longer. I'm glad you posted about the milkshare. I know locally a forum I am on, moms are willing to share informally. I have often thought that the banks seem like such a hassle, but I'm sure well worth it, especially for the recepient. THanks for the info and I will def be looking into it! You are a milk machine!!

  2. that is so cool!!! I have always been bummed that I don't overproduce. I can barely pump two oz :(