donate

Donating milk can be a rewarding experience that positively impacts the health and wellbeing of the families of our region.

Generous volunteer donors complete a simple but thorough screening process. All screening and shipping costs are paid for by the milk bank. Compensation of donors is strictly prohibited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America due to ethical and safety issues. As a non-profit organization that exists for the benefit of the community, this also helps us to keep milk processing fees as low as possible.

The screening process

Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank strictly follows the donor screening guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Our screening personnel, who are all either nurses or lactation consultants, are committed to making the screening process as convenient as possible and are available to answer questions throughout the entire screening and donation process.

  1. Interview
    We start with a 15-minute phone interview in which you will be asked questions about your general health, medications/supplements use, and common reasons for ineligibility.
  2. Complete the Application Packet
    The second step is completion of the application packet (online or by mail) with more details about your medical history, medications, diet, and general health.
  3. Statements of health
    With your permission, we will contact your health care provider, and your baby’s doctor, for statements about your health and ability to donate milk.
  4. Get bloodwork
    After the initial screening steps above, eligible donors are asked to complete bloodwork, identical to testing done by blood banks. This includes HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. The milk bank has several options to ensure that every donor can easily have her blood drawn close to her home.

Once approved, donors can drop off their frozen milk to our lab in Pittsburgh, to a local depot, or we can make arrangements for it to be picked up by FedEx at the donor’s home.

Please note that bacterial culture testing is done after milk pasteurization. On rare occasions an approved donor may become ineligible due to repeated positive cultures. These positive results simply reflect normal skin bacteria and have nothing to do with the health of the donor or her baby.

Could I be a donor?
Many of the children that we serve have serious medical conditions and require extra precautions. For your healthy infant, the criteria below may not apply. Take this quick self-assessment quiz to see if you might be able to be a donor.

  • I am confident in my milk supply and have milk that exceeds my own baby’s needs. Or, I am a bereaved mother or surrogate.
  • I am willing to donate at least 150 ounces over a six-month period. This minimum amount is waived for bereaved mothers.
  • I am willing to undergo blood testing.
  • I am willing to practice exceptional hygiene and carry out careful pumping, labelling, and storage procedures.
  • The milk that I will donate was pumped on or before my baby’s first birthday.
  • The milk that I will donate was stored no longer than 3 months in a refrigerator/freezer combo or no longer than 6 months in a stand-alone freezer (chest or upright).
  • I do not use tobacco or marijuana products of any kind.
  • I do not regularly consume alcohol (occasional use is acceptable, and we ask that you refrain from pumping for the Milk Bank for 12 hours after the consumption of alcohol).
  • I do not take vitamin supplements that exceeds 20x the recommended daily allowance (RDA).
  • I do not consume herbal supplements including those contained in capsules, teas, supplemental/nutritional beverages/shakes, or energy drinks; please note that Mothers’ Milk Tea and fenugreek are not permitted.
  • I consume less than 24 ounces of caffeinated beverages a day.
  • I do not take high blood pressure medications.
  • I have no history of intimate contact with anyone at risk for HIV/AIDS or hepatitis.

If you agreed with all of the above statements, you may be eligible to donate, and we encourage you to begin the screening process, if interested.  Please note that these statements do not imply approval. Certain chronic conditions, illnesses, medications, supplements, and other factors may prevent you from being a donor. If you would like to discuss your eligibility with us, or would like to begin the screening process, please contact us at donate@midatlanticmilkbank.org or 412-281-4400.

Preparing to Donate

It is helpful to be aware of our pumping and storage instructions as soon as you consider the possibility of donating.

Pumping:
  1. Wash your hands thoroughly using soap and warm water before pumping. Dry with a clean towel.
  2. If you are pumping directly into a collection container, open it and place the cap inside up on the table. If you are collecting and transferring the milk to another container, such as a bag, keep that container closed until you are ready to fill it. Do not touch the top lip of the container or the inside of the cap, container, or bag.
  3. DO NOT OVERFILL bags or containers. You must leave room for expansion as the milk freezes. We will not be able to use milk that leaks outside of torn bags/containers.
Cleaning Your Pump
  1. Clean your pump parts.
    •  Rinse each piece that comes into contact with human milk.
    •  Wash each piece separately using liquid dishwashing soap and plenty of warm water.
    •  Rinse each piece thoroughly. Be sure to rinse off all of the soap.
    •  Place the washed pieces on a clean paper towel or drying rack and allow to air dry. Do not use cloth towels to dry your pump parts because they can carry germs and bacteria.
    •  Try not to touch the inside of any parts that will come in contact with your human milk.
    •  Inspect tubing for moisture after each use and clean/dry, if necessary.
    •  Consult your pump’s instruction manual to determine which parts should be washed and the best way to remove them.
    •  Read and follow your pump manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Once per day, sanitize your pump parts using one of the methods below (read manufacturer’s instructions).
    •  Place washed pump parts in a saucepan and cover with water. Heat on the stovetop and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5-10 minutes.
    •  Medela Quick Clean Micro-Steam Bags or similar product.
  3. Wipe the outside of the tubing and the pump itself with a disinfectant wipe (any brand).
Storage
  1. Any brand of commercially available containers such as bags and bottles that are specifically designed to store breast milk are acceptable. Mark each bag with the following information using a permanent marker:
    •  Your Donor ID number (can be added once assigned).
    •  Date milk was pumped. No milk will be accepted without a date.
  2. Refrigerate or freeze milk within 30 minutes of pumping. If necessary, you may refrigerate milk for up to 24 hours before freezing. Do not add freshly pumped milk to cold milk.
  3. Place milk in the rear or bottom of your freezer, whichever is coldest.