Donating Breast Milk

Breastfeeding is precious. It’s such a wonderful feeling and gives us mothers great pride to provide our children with nutrition that we can make with our own body. Not only are we providing our babies with the essential vitamins, nutrients, fats proteins, and antibodies they need, but we are also creating a bond that is irreplaceable. If we’re lucky, we may have an established supply and never have to worry about our milk decreasing until we are ready to wean.  Then if we’re extremely lucky, we would even have an abundance of supply and be able to pump and store it, as well. However, not all moms can produce milk or breastfeed immediately after birth. Also, not all newborns are able to physically feed from their mother’s breast immediately either.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2012, 1 out of 9 infants in the U.S. were born prematurely, that is roughly 450,000 babies. In 2010, 35% of all infants deaths were pre-term related causes. In addition, preterm birth is the leading cause of neurological disabilities in children. (2014, December 23) Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/maternalinfanthealth/pretermbirth.htm

Thus, women who are able to produce plenty of milk and freeze a large milk supply have the power to change and make a difference in reducing the number of preterm infant deaths. How? By donating breast milk. Isn’t amazing what breast milk can do? A few other clinical uses for donated breast milk are:

  • Adoption
  • Surrogate premature infant with intolerance
  • Maternal milk insufficiency
  • Baby with mother diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer during pregnancy
  • Seizure disorder, metabolic disorder, low weight gain
  • Risk for immune deficiency = (HIV positive infant)
  • Baby with cancer
  • Down syndrome
  • Brain tumor
  • Cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, formula intolerance (Arnold, 2000) Retrieved from http://www.llli.org/llleaderweb/lv/lvaprmay00p19.html
Photo from Lansinoh.com
Looking to donate your breast milk? Donor qualifications guidelines:
The screening process to become a donor is a two-stage process. First the donor answers a detailed health history questionnaire. Once completed, the donor will then enter the serology process (through blood tests) for screening of HIV-1, HIV-2, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis.
According to National Milk Bank.org,
You are LIKELY to qualify as a donor if:
  • You are generally healthy
  • You do not smoke or drink
  • Your baby is doing well
  • You do not take medication on a regular basis
  • You are not using fenugreek or other forms of galactagogues to increase milk supply (ex: Mother’s milk plus, Mother’s milk tea, blessed thistle)
You MIGHT still qualify as a donor if: 
  • You have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • You have significant weight loss
  • You drink coffee or alcohol in moderation
  • You have had major surgery, had a major illness, and have had vaccinations or shots in the past 12 months
  • You received blood or blood products longer than 12 months ago
You DO NOT qualify if:
  • You have ever been infected by HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) or HIV, or a venereal disease in the last 12 months
  • You smoke, use nicotine patch or any tobacco, and live with a smoker
  • You have ever injected drugs intravenously
  • You are diabetic requiring insulin injections
  • You have a history of cancer
  • You have had intimate contact with anyone at risk for HIV, HTLV, or infectious hepatitis
  • You have had a family history or increased risk for Mad Cow disease
In addition to the breast milk storage tips post I have created, here are important tips to remember when storing breast milk for donation:
  • You can donate previously pumped milk as long as it’s less than 10 months old and you become a qualified donor.
  • All previously collected milk must be frozen immediately after pumping and stored in breast milk bags or bottles.
  • Breast milk will not be accepted in reused food containers, as well as, Ziploc bags.
  • The milk could never have been thawed or refrozen.
  • You may put multiple expressions into one bag throughout the day, as long as you keep the bag inside the refrigerator, and then place the bag in the freezer within 12 hours of the first expression.
  • Some milk banks ideally accept milk stored in 2-4 oz increments.
  • Containers and bags should not be filled to the top, leave at least one inch of space to allow milk to expand as it freezes.
  • All previously expressed milk should be dated with the month, day, and year the milk was expressed (if you’re super detailed like me, I even add the time of day). Some milk banks find it helpful to write the last 5 digits of donor number.
  • Do not save milk from used bottle.
  • Establish breastfeeding your own baby before donating.
Photo from Lansinoh.com

Where can you donate your milk?

 

Once the breast milk are donated through milk banks, the milk undergoes pasteurization to kill any harmful bacteria or virus in the milk. This process still preserves most of the milks nutrients, immune properties, and other healthy components.
Take a look at the chart below on the effects of human milk vs. formula on preterm infants. As you can see, the number of infants receiving breast milk had shorter hospital stays than those on breast milk and formula combined, or just on formula. Thus, donating and feeding preterm infants breast milk has positive outcomes. Not only on the babies, but on the U.S. health care system, as well.
Photo from
http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AdvisoryCommittees/CommitteesMeetingMaterials/PediatricAdvisoryCommittee/UCM235616.pdf
Have you ever donated your milk before? If so, what are some tips you could give other women who are looking into donating, or donating for the first time?

Disclosure: The Memoirs o a Mommy receives products in order to conduct reviews. No monetary compensation was provided unless noted otherwise. All opinions are 100% my own. Some posts may contain affiliate links that I receive commission for payment from in exchange for referrals. In the event of a giveaway, the sponsor is responsible for delivery of the prize, unless otherwise noted in the posting. Giveaways are not sponsored by Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or any other social media site. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally believe will be a good fit for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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