Updated: Sep 28, 2019
Within the last few years, donor breastmilk banks have become increasingly more accessible. But what exactly do they do?
In general, the idea behind donor milk is to provide milk to infants whose mothers cannot provide milk themselves. It is considered similar to blood banks because they test and treat the milk through the pasteurization process to make sure it is sterile for the infant.
Although this may alter the milk in some ways, the protective elements as well as other important components--- that formula does not have-- are kept intact. For premature infants (with or without other medical conditions), breast milk is viewed as medicine do its healthful properties.
It also gives women who may otherwise be unable to provide their own breastmilk (due to specific medications or diagnoses) breastmilk to their infant---with a fee of course.
Some insurance companies may or not pay for the costs of obtaining the donor breast milk. This may be a turn off for some women because costs are significantly higher than that of formula. Why? This is due to increasing demand as well as a shortage of donors for the milk. However, as we look at breastmilk vs formula, we know that breastmilk straight from the mothers breast is the best option, then donor breastmilk, and then formula.
Many women feel that the cost of donor breastmilk is worth the extra dollar due to the protective properties of breastmilk that come with its unique composition. Others may not feel this way or may not be able to afford it. Feeding your baby PERIOD is ultimately the most important --- no woman should feel guilty about the way she chooses to feed.
How can you become a breastmilk donor?
Most places have a few requirements to becoming a milk donor. This includes but is not limited to being able to donate a minimum amount, making sure you are able to provide in excess so that your own baby is not deprived, some have infant age limits (milk composition will change over time), not taking certain medications/herbs, and/or being overall a healthy individual.
There are different places to donate through, some will pay you, others won't --depending on whether they are keeping costs down for other mothers. Here are a few:
Many local children's hospitals and/or other clinics may also take your breastmilk.
Each state may have different regulations, therefore you may have to do your own personal research for your area.
What to expect?
You will typically receive little containers to place breastmilk in and once you have enough, you will either turn it in (to the milk bank) or mail it. Many places will cover cost of shipping, so no need to worry there.
If you are breastfeeding and do not have a problem with milk supply, donating milk could be a great way to give back to your community and impact not only the life of another baby, but their whole family.
To find out more of what Mamas Maternal Health can do for you, check out our website!
Until next time!
Mikayla and Cassie
Mamas Maternal Health Registered Dietitians/Lactation Counselors
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