Questions about Milk Banking?

Oregon and the Northwest have the highest breastfeeding rates in the nation, yet our hospitals currently order donor human milk from milk banks in Colorado or California. Sometimes these milk banks cannot fully supply regional needs for donor human milk due to low supplies. “It’s a travesty that we don’t have this option for local babies that could really benefit from it.” Says Scotti Weintraub of Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank. “Parents need to have options, especially for our most vulnerable babies. Donor milk is considered “best practice” and we want families to have this option. This is why we keep working towards our goal.” The Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank is working to open a local facility: they have space but need equipment and staffing. So for every box of Milkmaid Tea sold on from November 21 to December 30, 2011, Earth Mama will donate $1 to the NW Mother’s Milk Bank.

Milk Banking Frequently Asked Questions
Prepared by Scotti Weintraub
Northwest Mother’s Milk Bank

Why is donor milk important?
Every day 1 in 9 babies is born premature. These babies are vulnerable and research has shown that breastmilk (including donor milk) increases their health and survival while also shortening their hospital stays. For these babies, breastmilk is medicine. But sometimes their own mother’s milk isn’t available and donor milk can play that vital role.

Why do we need to open the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank?
Oregon and the Northwest have the highest breastfeeding rates in the nation. Our hospitals currently order donor human milk from milk banks in Colorado or California, incurring additional shipping charges. Sometimes these milk banks cannot fully supply our regional needs for donor human milk due to low supplies. Our infants are not all receiving “best medicine.”
The Northwest Mothers Milk Bank must raise the additional funds needed to buy equipment and hire stafKing in order to open.

Is there a great need for milk donors?
Yes! Nationwide the need for Donor Human Milk far surpasses the supply and continues to increase. Increasing preterm birth rates mean an increased need for donor milk in the neonatal intensive care units. Increased awareness of the role of donor milk has led to increased demand as more hospitals and care providers prescribe donor milk.

Who donates milk?
Milk Bank donors are healthy, conscientious women who care about others. They are most often nursing their own babies, have an abundant milk supply, and donate their surplus milk to the Milk Bank. Women who donate their milk often say they receive deep personal satisfaction from knowing they have helped improve the health of other babies.

Do milk donors follow special rules or guidelines?
Yes. All donors receive instruction in the collection and handling of their milk, including hand washing, cleansing of their breasts and nipples, and sterilization of breast pumps and equipment. Milk banks do not regulate a donor’s diet, but donors cannot take most medications or herbs.

Are milk donors paid?
No. Milk donors are volunteers who donate to help save fragile infants.

Who receives donor milk?
Lifesaving donated milk is dispensed by a doctor’s prescription. The majority of milk bank recipients are hospitalized preterm or sick babies who benefit from the optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and infection fighting components of human milk. The sickest and most vulnerable babies are given the highest priority.

How much milk is needed to feed a preemie for one day?
• 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

Why is it pasteurized? How does pasteurization affect donated milk?
All donor milk is pasteurized in order to eliminate any bacteria or other infecting organisms that may have been present. This ensures a safe product to protect vulnerable babies. A small percentage of nutritional and immunological properties are destroyed by pasteurization, but pasteurized milk retains many of its most beneKicial qualities. It contains many special properties that cannot be duplicated by commercial milk formulas.
Is donor milk safe?
Donor mothers have been screened in a multi‐step process and submit a blood sample. As extra precautions, all milk is pasteurized and samples are cultured. These procedures adhere to the standards of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How do I become a milk donor?
Interested moms should contact the milk bank closest to them for more information on becoming a milk donor and the donor screening process. For a list of milk banks, visit .

How do I get donor milk for my baby?
Many Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Family Birth Units are prescribing donor milk for qualiKied babies in their care. Please inquire with your medical facility or care provider as to the availability. You can also contact a milk bank directly for more information on acquiring donor milk with a doctor’s prescription.

How much does it cost?
Milk banks charge processing and shipping fees to cover the expense of screening donors, processing donor milk and shipping. Some medical facilities provide donor milk for their patients. Some insurance plans may cover the cost of donor milk.


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