FAQ: Donating Milk
I don’t live in Colorado. Can I still be a donor?
Yes! Mothers’ Milk Bank has donors from all over the United States. There are over 60 Donation and Outreach Centers affiliated with Mothers’ Milk Bank where you can drop off your milk, and they’ll take care of sending it to us. If none of these are convenient for you, then Mothers’ Milk Bank will send you an insulated box with prepaid overnight shipping labels, instructions, and ice packs so that you can ship the milk to us directly.
Can I donate previously collected milk?
Yes! Mothers’ Milk Bank can take previously collected milk as long as it was collected less than eight to ten months ago and has been in the freezer the whole time. We would just need to go through the screening process with you to make sure you were following our medication restrictions and weren’t sick at any time while collecting the milk.
Is there a minimum amount that I would be expected to donate?
We do ask that our donors aim for a total overall donation of at least 150 ounces. This does not need to be donated all at once, though. A fully lactating mother can donate until her child is 18 months old. As a non-profit organization, this goal helps us make sure we are spending our limited time and resources wisely.
My doctor told me I should take fenugreek to increase my supply. If it is safe to take while breastfeeding my own baby, why can’t I take it as a donor?
While it is likely that taking fenugreek is perfectly fine while breastfeeding your own baby, we have to be extra careful because of the fragile population we serve. Many premature babies don’t have fully developed digestive systems, and the fenugreek could upset their stomachs. If you have concerns about breastfeeding while taking any herbal supplements, we highly recommend that you speak with your pediatrician.
Where will my milk go if I donate it to Mothers’ Milk Bank?
About 90% of the milk is distributed to NICUs in hospitals all over the country for premature or ill babies to use. Mothers’ Milk Bank provides milk to over 120 hospitals. The rest of the milk is given out to families who have already been discharged, but still need some donor milk until the mothers’ own milk comes in.
Do you charge people for my milk?
Mothers’ Milk Bank does not charge for the donor milk itself, only for the expenses of processing the milk. Screening our donors and pasteurizing the milk can be costly, so we pass along part of the expenses of making sure the milk is safe. Babies are prioritized based on their medical condition, NOT their ability to pay. Because our program operates as a community service, when a medical need exists but there are no financial resources for reimbursing the tissue processing fees, special financial arrangements may be made. Mothers’ Milk Bank would never turn away a family that has a baby with a medical need for the milk, even if they cannot pay.
Will I be paid for my milk?
The short answer is no. But you will receive gratitude and the knowledge that you are helping babies in need. Mothers’ Milk Bank is a non-profit organization. We rely on the generosity of milk donors who produce milk in excess of their own babies’ needs. MMB does not pay or compensate milk donors. We do, however, provide milk storage bags and sanitizing steam bags so that a donor is not using her own supplies for milk that she is donating. We also cover the costs of any blood testing and if needed, the costs of shipping the milk to Mothers’ Milk Bank. We recognize that being a donor is a huge commitment, so we try to make it as easy and convenient as possible. We do our best to make sure donating your milk is no additional cost to you.
Why should I donate my excess milk when I can be paid for it?
We hear this question a lot. While we would prefer that someone donate her milk, we definitely understand the benefits of being paid for your milk. It takes a lot of time and effort to collect enough milk to donate, so being reimbursed for that commitment seems like a great idea. We just encourage women to do their research and to understand exactly where their milk is going.
Click here to read a blog entry by a woman who explains why she decided to donate her milk instead of selling it.