Breastfeeding is now more common than ever before. Even five years ago, the CDC cited that four out of five babies born in 2013 started out breastfeeding. Nearly 52% of infants born that same year were still breastfeeding at 6 months. Many of you can attest to being part of these percentages today, but I’m sure just as many of you know women who struggled to breastfeed or couldn’t for different reasons.
There are instances where women cannot breastfeed or choose not to, but breastmilk is still the best option for the baby. Especially when it comes to premature babies. In fact, two studies published in the in 2016, found that increased breastfeeding worldwide could save over 800,000 children’s lives each year. Not only do we want to increase direct breastfeeding rates, but donor human milk is also a way to help needy babies around the country.
Who can donate milk?
You might be a good candidate if you are less than 12 months postpartum and have a surplus of breastmilk. Bereaved or surrogate mothers are also eligible to donate.
It’s important to be:
- in good general health
- willing to undergo a blood test
- not regularly using medication or herbal supplements (with a few exceptions)
- willing to donate a minimum amount of milk initially and continue pumping to donate as you are able
- able to arrange for transportation of your milk to a drop-off site, or in some cases to ship your milk
You are not eligible to donate to a milk bank if you:
- have a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B or C, or Syphilis
- have a sexual partner who is at risk for HIV
- use illegal drugs
- smoke or use tobacco products
- received an organ or tissue transplant or a blood transfusion in the last six months
- regularly have more than two alcoholic drinks per day
- you were in the United Kingdom between 1980-1996 for more than three months or in Europe for more than five years
Find a milk bank near you to donate:
- Human Banking Association of North American: There are 18 member banks collecting and providing donations throughout the U.S. and Canada—from San Jose, CA to Orland, FL.
- Mother’s Milk Bank in Austin: The largest milk bank in the world, serving 22 states and 130 hospitals. Milk depots are located all over the country.
- Northwest Mothers Milk Bank: Milk Drops are conveniently located throughout the Pacific Northwest where screened donors can drop off their milk donations.