Pasteurized Donor Human Milk and Lactation Support

August is National Breastfeeding Month! At Mothers’ Milk Bank, we believe a parent’s own milk is the optimal first food for newborns and work to support new families in their breast/chestfeeding journeys. We also know that sometimes, despite best efforts, supplementation is necessary. Luckily, there is a supplementation option that supports breast/chestfeeding: pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM).

At Mothers’ Milk Bank, we advocate for the use of PDHM for necessary supplementation and want to bring awareness to the unique support it offers parents in their lactation journey. Researchers believe there is a correlation between PDHM supplementation and longer-term breast/chestfeeding. In fact, they have found that infants who receive PDHM supplementation in the well-baby nursery are more likely to be breast/chestfeeding at six months than those who receive formula. (Gray et al.)

We also believe that PDHM is a powerful tool for parent’s lactation support. When paired with other support systems – ie. lactation consultants and breast/chestfeeding education – supplementation with PDHM can help parents find the confidence they need to continue their lactation journey.

Breast/chestfeeding is a deeply emotional experience for many parents. Use of PDHM and other support systems can alleviate stress when things don’t go as planned. When a parent is more relaxed, it is easier for them to feed their baby, and allows them to keep their breast/chestfeeding goals a priority.

During National Breastfeeding Month, we want to reiterate how important a parent’s breast/chestfeeding goals are. Human milk is the best food for human babies, and having access to PDHM when their own milk is insufficient or unavailable can make a huge difference for parents. If you would like to receive PDHM for your NICU or well-baby unit, please get in touch! We would love to help you implement PDHM into your practice.


  1. Gray K, Ryan S, Churchill M, Harder VS. The Association Between Type of Supplementation in the Newborn Nursery and Breastfeeding Outcomes at 2 and 6 Months of Age. Journal of Human Lactation. 2023;39(2):245-254. doi:10.1177/08903344221105810

This month we’re recognizing Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) Awareness Month. Here at Mothers’ Milk Bank, we recognize the seriousness of NEC for premature, medically fragile, and full-term infants with risk factors and understand the need for more research to better understand this complex disease. But even more than that, we stand with the families, caretakers, and providers who are navigating this difficult medical condition.

We also want to bring awareness to an important factor supporting the treatment and prevention of NEC: human milk. Whether it’s from a parent or donor, human milk significantly reduces the incidence of NEC. The unique antibodies, growth factors, and anti-inflammatory agents in human milk are just a few components that can help reduce inflammation and protect intestinal tissue. Researchers believe these factors may be why a diet of exclusively human milk protects vulnerable babies against NEC. If that’s not enough to use human milk in NEC prevention, human milk is also less likely to contain harmful bacteria than formula.

At Mothers’ Milk Bank, we know how fragile babies who receive our donor human milk can be, so we take safety very seriously. Each donor is screened, undergoes blood testing, and is reviewed by multiple staff members before being approved to donate. After we receive their milk, we gently pasteurize and test each batch before it is sent to our hospitals, ensuring it is safe for even the most fragile infants.

During NEC Awareness Month, we would like to reiterate human milk’s importance and its role in preventing this devastating disease. To learn more about NEC or to get involved in building a world without NEC through research, advocacy, and education, we encourage you to check out the NEC Society.

Milk Depots (previously called Donation & Outreach Centers) are healthcare or community facilities affiliated with Mothers’ Milk Bank that collect and store raw frozen donor milk and deliver it to our facility in Colorado. Milk Depots offer an easy and safe option for milk donors from more communities to donate their milk to help babies.

Milk Depots are vital to gathering donor milk to be processed and sent back to hospitals. Not only do they help us collect the milk, but they also promote the importance of safe, screened donor human milk as an option for new families. We are so grateful for these amazing community partners and hope you are, too! With that in mind, here are three things to keep in mind, before you drop off your milk:

Call Ahead 

Lots of our Milk Depots have small teams and even smaller freezers. Many of our donors have an incredible oversupply, which is AMAZING, but keep in mind if your deep freezer is full, your Milk Depot might not have room for all of your milk. To avoid being turned away, we suggest calling ahead to make sure they have the staff and space for a large donation, especially the first time you drop off milk.

Label your Milk

When you go to drop off your milk, make sure your donation is clearly labeled with your name and donor number. Make sure each bag is labeled with the date it was pumped, but you do not need to include your name and donor number on each bag. Storage bags, labeled with the date, can then be placed in a larger bag, like a grocery or large Ziploc. Be sure the outside of the larger bag is marked with your donor number. If you’re unsure about what your donor number is, please call (303.869.1888) or email the Donor Relations team.

Plan ahead

If you know you have an oversupply, to help avoid overloading the Milk Depot’s resources, plan ahead and make smaller, more frequent donations. This will give them time to send their stash to us. Keep in mind that we accept milk up to eight months after it has been pumped, so it does not need to be dropped off immediately. If you have milk that has been frozen longer than eight months, please check in with the Donor Relations team, as sometimes we are able to accept older milk. However, if you have an overflowing freezer, you can always request a box from Mothers’ Milk Bank, and we will cover the cost of shipping. Just remember to never ship milk on a Friday.

There you have it—a few of the many reasons your local Milk Depot makes the donation process easy! If your community doesn’t have a Milk Depot, you can always request a box to ship your milk. Want to get a depot started? Tell your local lactation consultant, midwife, or hospital about your experience donating to Mothers’ Milk Bank. If they have the bandwidth, we’d love to partner with them.

Stay in touch!

Do you experience pushback when asking for Pasteurized Donor Human Milk (PDHM) for your mom baby unit? You are not alone in facing this challenge, and we are here to support you. Leadership may not understand why PDHM is vital for all babies, but we do! Here are a few key points to help educate your leadership team and get buy in.

In terms of cost, PDHM is a cost-effective intervention. Since there is no minimum order, having a few bottles on hand costs less than $100. With a low price point, PHDM is accessible for even the smallest hospitals.

Not only is it cost effective, but PHDM also aligns with hospital priorities. Whether your hospital is designated Baby Friendly, is on its way to obtaining that designation, or simply wants to provide the best possible patient care for infants and families, donor milk supports hospital goals and can help elevate your reputation. Having PDHM available is something parents look for when choosing a facility and gives your hospital a competitive edge.

Part of that reputational capital comes from PDHM’s thoroughly-researched effectiveness. PDHM is evidence-based and is supported by multiple organizations for treating ailments in newborn patients. The AAP, ACOG, Surgeon General, and many other notable organizations support the use of PDHM.

Perhaps the most important point is that all babies deserve access to the best nutrition possible, and that is what PDHM provides. Babies in the mom baby unit can experience the following, each of which PDHM can help address:

  • Hypoglycemia
  • Jaundice
  • Early Weight loss
  • Late preterm birth
  • Latching challenges
Birthing parent holds new baby after birth

Ultimately, donor human milk is also an investment in breastfeeding. Supplementing with PDHM supports the start of a successful lactation journey and can help set up parents for long-term breastfeeding success.

I am passionate about PDHM, not only because of my role as Director of Clinical Relations for Mothers’ Milk Bank, but also because of my personal connection. My son, Hudson, was born at 36 weeks and had hypoglycemia. I was devastated by this diagnosis, but being offered donor human milk as part of his treatment helped soften the blow. As a second-time breastfeeding mom, this seemingly simple offering meant the world to me. I cannot express the huge relief and positive impact of having donor milk provided from a patient care perspective. It made me feel that my baby and I were cared for in a beautiful, unique way. My plan of exclusively feeding breast milk was honored and the beginning of my breastfeeding journey was nurtured by having donor milk available. Now, I am proud to be working for the very milk bank that provided my baby with the donor milk he received.

As you navigate these conversations with your team, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I am happy to be a resource for whatever you need! Contact me anytime for more information, research, and support at or call 720-507-0926


In July 2022, Esther and her family welcomed sweet baby Maya. Esther planned to breastfeed her, just like she did with her two older children, but within days, she found out she wasn’t producing enough milk. They needed to find another solution.

Esther was worried she would need to supplement with formula. Since Maya was born in the midst of the formula shortage, this was a scary plan. Esther worried she wouldn’t be able to find enough formula, and wanted to make sure her baby was well fed.

When they needed another option, Mothers’ Milk Bank stepped in. The nurses at the hospital used donor human milk to help give Maya the best possible start in life.

“We were so relieved in the hospital,” Esther said. “Donor milk was a game-changer for our family.”

Thanks to our generous community, Maya was able to continue receiving donor human milk after she went home from the hospital, giving Esther peace of mind knowing her baby had the nutrition she needed.

Mother in hospital holder her new baby with her family beside her
Mother and father in the hospital hold their new baby
Mother holds her new baby