Babies all over the country need breastmilk, especially when they are born premature or with other health complications. Not all mothers can produce milk, or produce the sufficient amount of milk for their infant, and this is where milk donors are invaluable.
Though many people haven’t heard of human milk donation, mothers who donate their excess milk help support thousands of babies across the country ever year. In fact, there aren’t enough donors to meet all the needs of the infants in America, and the demand is rising. The national prematurity birth rate is 7.6%, and preemies are in most need of breastmilk in the earliest days of their life.
Who Can Donate Breastmilk?
Mothers with a surplus of milk can help meet this need. Women who are accepted as donors are healthy, most likely nursing their own babies, and have an abundant milk supply.
Milk banks are located all over the country in many different states. Before you take action of donating milk, make sure that you’re up to date with the procedures for hygienic and safe collection, storage, and transportation.
Requirements for donations to milk banks include (but may not be limited to):
Donors must be in good health
Donors’ own infant must be less than a year old (unless they experienced a loss)
Donors will be screened through blood tests for:
Human T-Lymphotropic Virus
Donors must be willing to donate at least 100 ounces of milk
Milk banks may not take donations from those taking certain medicines, using drugs, smoking, who have had a recent blood transfusion, regularly have more than 2 ounces of alcohol per day, etc. However, it’s always best to contact your local milk bank to learn about their specific requirements, as they are not the same globally.
Who Receives the Donated Breastmilk?
Your donated milk can travel across the entire country or help support babies in your local community. The majority of recipients go to preterm or sick babies that benefit the most from the optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and infection-fighting capabilities of human milk.
Preemies are often the main focus, as they require the milk more than anyone. In fact, depending on their weight, the ounces that they need go up.
A baby weighing 2 pounds takes up to 5.5 ounces of milk
A baby weighing 4.5 pounds takes up to 12 ounces of milk
A baby weighing 6.5 pounds takes up to 18 ounces of milk
Babies who are ill can also benefit greatly from the nutritional benefits from breastmilk, but human milk is optimal for all infants. If a milk bank has an abundance of milk, it might be released to otherwise healthy babies.
To find more information about donating/receiving milk, and where your local milk bank is, check out this website.