How to donate breast milk to help with formula shortage

June 16, 2022

How to donate breast milk to help with formula shortage

Feeding our babies, whichever way we choose, is a tough process. There are late nights, long pumps, frustrating production and let’s face it, it can hurt! But lately we’ve had to add “formula shortage” to the list. Shelves have been bare for months at this point, which may have you panicking or stressing about how to make sure your baby gets fed.

While we’ve learned the Biden Administration is shipping more than 44,000 pounds this week, we know there are families out there struggling and as moms we always want to help. 

Have you considered donating your breast milk? Some mamas produce more milk than their baby needs and instead of dumping it, they donate it! By doing so, you can help other moms out who may have to supplement because they don’t produce enough. 

The process is relatively easy. Start with a search for a milk bank in your local area. Milk banks connect milk donors and milk recipients. You can also talk to your doctor about whether they know of a mother in need of breast milk.

Yes, there are eligibility requirements. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions about your health. We went to WebMD to learn about who can and can’t donate.

You CAN donate if: 

-You’re in good overall health

-Have breast milk in excess

-Can freeze your breast milk within 24-48 hours of pumping

-Only use medications that are approved for donors 

-Meet other minimum requirements of your milk bank 

-Aren’t using herbal supplements 

You CANNOT donate if: 

-You’ve been or are being treated for HIV, HTLV (human T-cell leukemia virus), hepatitis B or C, or syphilis

-Have a sexual partner who is at risk for HIV, HTLV, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis

-Have used recreational drugs within the last year

-Smoke or use other tobacco products 

-Drink more than specified amount of alcohol 

-Have recently traveled to certain countries

Here come the steps: You’ll have to fill out an application, possibly give blood work or medical records and you may have to have your pediatrician sign off to confirm you’re breastfeeding. This seems like a lot of paperwork, but remember how helpful this will be in the end. 

After you’ve made it through the application process, next comes prepping/donating. Maybe we’re tired and don’t do these things all the time, but in this case, it’s important so your milk isn’t contaminated. You’ll need to sterilize your pump parts, wash your hands thoroughly and transfer it to freezer bags without it touching your hands. Be sure to label it with the date and time of when you pumped. 

Each milk bank may have a different process, some may even pay you. It’s important to do your research and ask questions.

So where can you donate? Here are a few suggestions to get you started. 

Mother’s Milk Bank is the oldest operating milk bank in North America and accepts donations all across the country. It’s currently accepting a minimum of 50 ounces and up to 9 months from the day of expression.

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America works with more than 30 non profit milk banks in the United States and Canada that follow rigorous guidelines for safety.  

TheMilkBank is a non-profit, community-supported entity. It was established to improve health outcomes for premature and ill infants, foster better health for children and decrease health care expenditures. 

TinyTreasuresMilkBank takes your donated milk and allows critically ill and premature infants the chance to benefit from human milk. The donations will be used by Prolacta Bioscience to make human milk-based nutritional products. 

If you are in need of milk, each has options to receive milk as well. 

What questions do you have about donating? Do you have advice you’d like to share? We’d love to read your comments!

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