Breastmilk Donation Process

Thank you for considering donating your milk! You have the opportunity to help other babies whose mothers cannot make milk. It’s a precious gift.

You will need to follow procedures carefully to keep your milk safe for babies that will receive it. Much research has been done on the best ways to pasteurize milk while preserving the nutrition and germ fighting qualities. We follow the guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

Breast milk donation screening

Protecting the health of any baby who receives breast milk from a milk bank is of paramount importance. Milk banks screen breast milk donors very much like blood donors. They need to know some medical history. Listed below are the conditions that would prevent you from donating. After reading this you will know if you may donate breast milk.

Exclusionary criteria

As per the Human Milk Banking Association of North America screening criteria, a candidate for donation may not donate breast milk if she:

  • Has been told that she cannot give blood for a medical reason, unless the reason was low body weight, pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • In the past 12 months has had a blood transfusion, blood products, an organ or tissue transplant
  • In the past 12 months has had permanent make-up applied with non-sterile needles or an accidental hypodermic needle stick
  • Has ever received human pituitary growth hormone, a dura mater or brain covering graft, or had intimate contact with someone who has Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
  • Was born in, lived in, received medical treatment in, or traveled in any African country since 1977
  • Has had an intimate partner who was born in, lived in, received medical treatment in, or traveled in, any of the following African countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, Nigeria, since 1977
  • Has lived in the United Kingdom (England, North Ireland, Scotland, Wales, The Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Gibraltar or the Falkland Islands) for more than three months between 1980 and 1996.  
  • Has spent time that adds up to a total of five years in Europe (includes Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) between 1980 and 1996
  • Had a blood transfusion given to the baby during pregnancy
  • Has ever had hepatitis or yellow jaundice, or in the past 12 months had close contact with someone with viral hepatitis or yellow jaundice (lived together or had sexual contact)
  • Within the past 12 months has been exposed to hepatitis A or received a gamma globulin shot
  • Has ever — even once — had sex with someone who is at risk for HIV/AIDS, including hemophiliacs, IV drug users, prostitutes and men who have had sex — even once — with another man
  • Has exchanged sex for money or drugs, even one time
  • Has ever injected drugs, or had sex with a man who has injected drugs
  • Is on regular medication other than vitamins, thyroid replacement hormones, insulin, iron or progestin-only birth control pills while she is pumping
  • Is taking herbal supplements or vitamins containing herbal supplements
  • Smokes, uses tobacco products or uses a nicotine patch or gum
  • Has a chronic health condition such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or a history of cancer
  • Consumes more than 24 ounces of caffeinated drinks per day, or regularly consumes alcohol (there is a 12-hour waiting period after consuming alcohol before pumping for the bank)
  • Has ever tested positive for tuberculosis — the milk bank will discuss the circumstances

A mom can donate if she has had tattoos, piercing and acupuncture in the past 12 months. The procedures must have been performed using single-use sterile needles. Also the labs must be done at least eight days after the procedure.

In addition, milk banks serologically screen potential donors for HIV-1, HIV-2, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV), Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B surface antigen and syphilis no more than six months prior to the first donation.  

Who to contact to donate your milk

If none of the items listed apply to you, contact:

Human Milk Banking Association of North America
Phone: 817-810-9984
Email: info@hmbana.org
Web: https://www.hmbana.org/

You will be guided through the milk donation process.  

Reviewed by Diane L. Spatz, PhD, RN-BC, FAAN on April 01, 2013