Did You Know?


In the absence of the infant’s own mother’s milk, pasteurized donor human milk offers many of the same benefits for the infant, such as optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and immunologic protection against many organisms and diseases.



Why use pasteurized donor human milk?

In the absence of the infant’s own mother’s milk, pasteurized donor human milk offers many of the same benefits for the infant, such as optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and immunologic protection against many organisms and diseases. Human milk also contains growth factors that can protect immature tissue, promote maturation, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, and promote healing of tissue damaged by infection.Reasons for prescribing pasteurized donor human milk include: prematurity, allergies, feeding/formula intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, post-operative nutrition, infectious diseases, inborn errors of metabolism, moms who cannot nurse their babies for medical reasons but t want their baby to benefit from human milk and adoptive parents who want human milk instead of formula for their baby.

Is pasteurized donor human milk safe?

The Milk Bank follows strict screening, processing, and dispensing guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) to ensure the safety of pasteurized donor human milk. These guidelines have been established with the advisement of the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the blood and tissue industries. Potential donors provide complete medical and lifestyle histories, and undergo blood tests, similar to the screening process used at blood banks. Donated milk is pasteurized to kill any bacteria or viruses. Before the pasteurized milk is dispensed, bacteriological testing is done to ensure its safety.

Does pasteurization remove nutrients from raw breast milk?

HMBANA milk banks provide to the most fragile of babies, therefore safety is paramount. A small number of protective components are lost in the process; however, donor milk has been determined to be the best option after mothers’ own milk.

How do I become a human milk donor?

The process of becoming a milk donor is simple and The Milk Bank covers the costs. The process entails a pre-screening, filling out some brief paperwork, and undergoing a blood test at our expense. For more detailed information about the donor screening process, please visit our donate milk page. If you have experienced a loss, please accept our deepest sympathy during this time. We strive to offer the opportunity to heal through donation as part of our Garrett’s Gift Bereavement Donation Program. If you are interested in donating, please contact The Milk Bank by email at milkdonor@themilkbank.org or by phone at 317-536-1670 or toll-free at 877-829-7470.

How is donating milk to The Milk Bank different than giving or selling to a mother directly?

Studies have shown that there can be risks of sharing milk between individuals, including the potential for contamination. Milk donated to The Milk Bank is screened, pasteurized and processed for the safety of even the smallest and most fragile babies in hospital NICUs, when often peer-shared milk is not accepted due to safety concerns.
If you’re a mom who is currently donating to a family directly, why not also consider sharing a few ounces with The Milk Bank to help even more babies who may face an increased health risk? If you’re a parent looking for breast milk from a trustworthy source, know that The Milk Bank is strictly regulated by HMBANA to provide the safest possible alternative to mothers’ own milk.
The provision of safe, screened and tested human milk by milk banks like ours has also been shown to promote and support breastfeeding, a goal that The Milk Bank and HMBANA support in their missions. This enables more babies born too soon to be discharged home having received the protection of an exclusive human milk diet, while empowering more mothers to continue to breastfeed.

How much do I have to donate? Is there a minimum?

In order to offset our screening and processing costs, we ask for a minimum donation of 100 ounces before your baby’s second birthday.

Does The Milk Bank make a financial profit from my donation? Why is there a cost to purchase pasteurized milk?

The Milk Bank does not financially profit from or commercialize human milk. Mothers donate their milk altruistically, and hospitals and outpatient recipient families pay a processing fee, which covers the operating costs of The Milk Bank. We are a not-for-profit organization and rely on both milk and financial donations to fulfill our mission. Our vision is that every child has access to safe human milk, therefore individual donations and grants to Tre’s Medical Relief Fund, helps families unable to pay the processing fee gain access to PDHM.

I’m a vegetarian or vegan, can I still be a donor?

Absolutely! Please consult your health care provider regarding any vitamin or supplements you may need to take.

Is it safe to take any pain relief or cold medications?

Occasional uses of pain relief medications, such as acetaminophen, are acceptable. However, there are other forms of over-the-counter medications that may be safe for your baby, but would exclude you as a donor because donated milk goes to fragile babies who can’t tolerate these medications. For any questions, please contact us!

If I have an occasional glass of wine or alcohol, does this exclude me from donating?

No, you can still donate. However, please contact The Milk Bank for further instructions on pumping and collecting for milk for donation following a glass of wine or alcoholic beverage.

What if I’m taking antidepressants?

Some antidepressants are acceptable for donor use. Please contact us for a list of approved antidepressants. Please do not self defer.

Can I take herbal supplements?

There are some herbal supplements that may be safe for your baby, but are harmful to the babies who use donated milk. Ask the donor mother coordinator about any herbal supplements you are taking, including prenatal vitamins with herbs.

What other factors might disqualify me from becoming a donor?

  • You have a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B or C, or Syphilis
  • You or your sexual partner is at risk for HIV
  • You use illegal drugs
  • You smoke or use tobacco products
  • You have received an organ or tissue transplant. Receiving a blood transfusion will defer you from donating for four months after which we will proceed as normal.
  • You regularly have more than two alcoholic drinks per day
  • Between 1980-1996, you were in the United Kingdom for more than three months or in Europe for more than five years
  • You were born in, lived in, traveled to, or had sexual contact with anyone in an African country since 1977

I have milk stored from three months ago, can you accept milk older than three months?

If milk has been stored in a side-by-side freezer, we accept milk up to six months from the date it was pumped. Milk stored in a deep or chest freezer can be accepted up to eight months from the date it was pumped.

How long does it take to become an approved donor?

The approval process can take anywhere from one to four weeks, depending on how quickly you return your paperwork and get your blood work done, and how soon we receive the completed health forms from your healthcare providers. The sooner we can receive your packet and signed documents from your providers, the sooner we can arrange a blood draw. The results from your blood draw are generally received within a week. Once we have all your info, our director of clinical operations will review the information and we will be able to approve you.

Donor Coordinator, Lauren Duncan, gives tips on labeling & packing milk donations!