What is it like to become a milk donor?

In honor of Breastfeeding Awareness Month, we are highlighting the importance of donor human milk. 

A few weeks ago, we asked our community on Instagram to share experiences of donating their breastmilk with us. The response was tremendous and we are honored to share the stories. 

Donating to a milk bank, what’s it like?

  • The process was surprisingly easy. There is a phone interview, a written application, a quick blood test, and that’s it. The team at Mothers Milk Bank communicated the process & steps very well and are always super responsive. They walk you through it and it was really so much quicker and easier than I thought.  — Alexandria, Austin, TX
  • The process was very seamless and easy! It did not take too long; the only waiting was for test results. After applying online, I was contacted by a program coordinator who conducted a simple online phone screen. I also had to complete a form with standard, basic questions about health history.  I then had blood testing done and, upon passing the test, was approved for donation. The only requirement was that the initial donation must be a minimum of 100 ounces. After that, donations could be made as frequently or infrequently as I would like, with however many ounces I could part with at the time. —  Holly, Austin TX
  • The hard part of donating is all those lonely, painful pumping sessions, by comparison getting approved was no stress. First a phone screen, then a quick blood test and within 3 weeks I was dropping off my first donation. – Cat, Austin TX

Other ways to donate:

  • I found a military family on a milk share source that was in dire need. I donated my milk to them after the mama had asked me some questions. — Gaby mother of 1, Naval Officer, San Diego, CA
  • My midwife connects moms that she works directly with, because she knows our medical history and has seen our blood work. The recipient moms trust that the donors she approves have a clean bill of health. — Rebekah, Houston, TX
  • This was an easy process. Human Milk 4 Human Babies is a global network on Facebook that connects women who have milk to share. The network has individual communities based on location. — Nicole,  Los Angeles, CA
  • I breastfed my daughter for 18 months, and gave milk away from about time she was four months until she was 15 months. I really only gave milk to moms I knew. If they expressed a need for milk, I would offer my milk to them. – Kimberly, mom of 2, Wisconsin

Any advice to other women who might be considering donating their breast milk?

  • What do you have to lose? There are so many mothers in need and if you have the ability to facilitate, why not? — Nicole, Los Angeles, CA
  • A few things:
    1. Mothers Milk Bank at Austin really makes the process to donate really easy and quite simple, even for a new mom. The team there walks you through it and it’s not many steps at all.
    2. The first donation is a minimum amount, but then after that you can donate any amount.
    3. I fully understand that breastfeeding is something not every mother is able to do but if you are able to and can pump a little extra here and there, donating is a great way to help babies in our community. — Alexandria Sooch, Austin, TX
  • There is a baby out there just like yours. They may need a little bit more help and you can honestly make such a big difference in a family’s life. There is no greater gift – a gift that brings peace and love and nourishment. I still communicate with the mother I donated milk to directly. You may not have that with a milk bank, but you can rest assured that you are making the absolute biggest difference in the world. — Gaby Cavins, Naval Officer, San Diego, CA
  • My advice to anyone on the fence about it is, if you have more than enough milk for your own little one, you literally have nothing to lose. It makes you feel so much better that your excess milk will not be wasted and it is potentially saving little babies lives.  — Kali, Reno, NV.
  • There are so many ways to donate. Pick the right one for you and your family. You have a beautiful gift. It sounds cliche to call it that, but it truly is. This is something you will not regret doing. – Holly, mother to Kennedy, Austin TX
  • I would say that if you are able to donate breast milk, please do! I feel like it is such a blessing to be able to feed not only my babies but others as well.  – Cassidy, Austin, TX
  • Remember first and foremost that you want to be producing enough for your own baby and any you might need for him or her is kept for them. Beyond that is what could be donated. All it takes is one person offering to help and support another family in this way for it to become more and more normal in our conversations and lives. — Kimberly
  • If your freezer looks like a dairy farm too, give yourself a huge  reward and think about sharing. — Cat, Austin, TX
  • Do it! I guess I don’t understand why you wouldn’t, unless the barriers (tests, paperwork, etc.) are just too overwhelming. — Rebekah, Houston, TX
  • Any amount of milk is an amazing gift and it’s very rewarding to help a sweet baby. But, remember to take care of yourself and your baby first. — Rebecca, Austin, TX

Featured image Angela Doran

Post Author
Alexandra Repetto
I'm Alexandra: a mother, wife, native Washingtonian turned New Yorker, raised Puerto Rican, beauty marketer by trade. I write those in no particular order, because they are all equally important and make up our family's every day. While juggling motherhood and working full time, I love connecting with other parents who have the same thoughts, struggles, questions and concerns! As I've learned, it takes a village to make this whole eco-system moving and I'm proud to be another parent on this journey with each of you.