Today is World Prematurity Day, a day to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of preemies and their families. Preemies are at risk for a number of health issues, including necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that can be life-threatening. After giving birth to a premature infant, the mother may have her own health issues that prevent her from breastfeeding right away. Donor milk can help fill the gap. Human breastmilk reduces the number of days a preemie needs intravenous feedings, reduces the frequency of surgery and reduces mortality rates. (1)
When a mother donates her milk to a milk bank, it is blended, pasteurized and then shipped to various hospital NICUs in the surrounding area. The blending ensures an even distribution of the special components of breastmilk. The milk is gently heated during pasteurization to ensure any bacteria is eliminated.
General guidelines for donors
If you are interested in donating, here some of the general guidelines. You can check with your local milk bank for specific requirements.
- Be in good health
- No tobacco or illegal drug use
- Alcohol use is limited to less than 2 ounces on a regular basis
- Willing to undergo blood testing
- You or your partner cannot be at risk for HIV
- More at Human Milk Bank Association of North America
We spoke to a few mothers about why they decided to donate their milk. Some decided to donate because they had an oversupply and wanted to share with someone in need. One mother we spoke to learned about donation when her son was 7 months old. She had been a preemie herself and wanted to give back in a way. She was able to donate close to 100 ounces. Whatever the reason, donating breastmilk is a selfless and generous act. We applaud you!
Some donor moms have found our Pumping and Storing class to be helpful while preparing to breastfeed and pump extra. If you have any questions about how to balance breastfeeding and storing milk, let us know in the comments and we will share the answers over on instagram.
For more information about donating breastmilk, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.
I’ve created a free e-mail course to help you get breastfeeding started on the right foot! Click the image below for more info.
Thanks for stopping by,
Lindsey Shipley, RN, IBCLC
(1) National Coalition for Infant Health. (2016). Infographic: Why Premature Infants Need Access to an Exclusive Human Milk Diet. Retrieved from: http://www.infanthealth.org/blog/2016/7/infographic-why-premature-infants-need-access-to-an-exclusive-human-milk-diet?rq=infographic