Milk Sharing – A Guide on How to Safely Donate Breast Milk

Have some excess milk you would like to donate? Read through this article as we help you understand the process and learn the steps involved. 

The benefits of breastfeeding for the survival and continued health of all infants have been established. That said, breastfeeding is strongly recommended by healthcare professionals. However, in some cases, instead of breastfeeding, some parents may need to look for alternative sources of breast milk to feed their babies, such as when the mother is unable to provide breast milk because of an injury or a certain health condition. This is where milk sharing plays a crucial role.  Find more useful info about this on chiropractor marietta website.

Formal vs. Informal Milk Sharing 

Generally, milk sharing can either be formal or informal. Formal milk sharing refers to donor human milk collection administered by milk banks. Informal milk sharing is sharing of milk informally between friends and family members or through websites that connect people who want to buy and sell human breast milk. 

Due to the risk of bacterial and viral contamination, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) issued some policies against informal milk sharing. Here are some key points of the said policies: 

  • While a mother’s own milk is generally preferred, human milk from donors may be used for high-risk infants if the mother’s milk is not available or the infant’s mother is unable to produce milk. Priority is given to providing donated human milk to infants with <1500 g birth weight. 
  • Human milk donors must be identified and screened following methods used by HMBANA (Human Milk Banking Association of North America) milk banks or other accredited commercial milk banks. 
  • Donor milk must be pasteurized based on accepted standards. Post-pasteurization testing should also be performed following internal quality-control guidelines. 
  • Health care providers highly discourage direct human milk sharing or purchasing human milk from the Internet because of the increased risks of bacterial or viral contamination and the possibility of the milk’s exposure to drugs, nicotine, medications, or other substances. 

Becoming a Milk Donor 

Your breast milk may save a fragile baby’s life. If you are considering donating your breast milk to other babies who may need it, here are the things you should know about: 

The Screening Process 

To be eligible to donate breast milk, you must complete an online application first. Part of the screening process is a phone interview and Medical History survey questionnaire. You will receive a confirmation email from the milk bank once your application is processed. Typically, you can get a  response from the milk bank within five days after submitting your application. 

To ensure that both mom and baby are healthy and that it is safe for the mother to donate her excess breast milk, milk banks typically require human milk donors to have their doctor and infants pediatrician sign a Medical Confirmation form. 

Blood Test 

The next important step is for the milk donor to undergo a blood test to screen for HIV, Hepatitis B, and C, and syphilis, usually with the milk bank’s chosen or contracted company and at no charge to the donor. The blood test helps to ensure that the milk intended for donation is safe.  

Additionally, donors may also be asked to undergo a DNA swab test and a Freezer test. A freezer test is where the milk bank sends you a thermometer which will be used to measure the temperature of the freezer where you store (or plan to store) your milk to ensure that is cold enough for safe breast milk storage. 

When Approved  

Depending on how quickly you were able to complete all forms required and get your blood test done, the approval process can take anywhere from one to four weeks.  

Once you are qualified to donate your milk, you will receive breast milk storage bags along with detailed instructions on how to pump, label, and store your milk for donation. The supplies will be provided to you free of cost, and you will also get instructions on how to pack and ship your milk to the milk bank.

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