A: What happens when you have an amazing supply and a freezer full of breast milk? Well, let me be the first to tell you that is a great “problem” to have. In researching what to do with your milk, you might have come across the option to donate it to a not-for-profit milk bank. The process to become a milk donor is actually easy and gives you the opportunity to help sick and fragile babies in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). The process is broken down into four parts:
1. Donor telephone screening
Call your nearest milk bank to complete a brief screening over the telephone. You’ll go over some general health and lifestyle questions, and it usually takes 5 to 10 minutes. Not sure where the nearest milk bank is? Go to hmbana.org/locations to find out.
2. Donor health questionnaire
Once your telephone screening is complete, the milk bank will send you a packet to fill out. It will include a more detailed health history and a couple of provider release forms to have signed by your doctors stating that you and baby are healthy and well.
3. Donor blood testing
The next step of the process is having your blood drawn and tested for communicable diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C. The milk bank will cover the cost of this testing. Depending on your specific milk bank’s policy, you may need to have your blood redrawn every three to six months while you are actively donating.
Once you’ve completed the above the steps, you’re ready to donate. Milk banks understand that time with family is precious and donating should not be a burden for you or your family, so many offer convenient drop-off sites, called milk depots, where approved donors can leave their milk. The depots then send the milk to the milk banks for processing. If there is not a depot near you, many milk banks offer direct shipping options.
By donating your excess breast milk to a not-for-profit milk bank, you can ensure that your milk will be handled with care and respect and distributed to the babies who need it the most.
—Lauren Duncan, certified lactation specialist and donor mother coordinator for The Milk Bank