Donate milk

Donating milk can be a rewarding experience that positively impacts the health and well-being 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. Milk collection bags are available upon request. Compensation of donors is strictly prohibited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America due to ethical and safety issues.

1. Completion of the screening process which includes blood testing.

Why is this required?

Some medications or circumstances that are completely fine for a full-term baby or a baby receiving their own mother’s milk could be problematic for the preterm and sick babies that are served by the milk bank. To make donor milk safe for these medically fragile infants, we must strictly follow the evidence-based screening standards of our accrediting body, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. The blood screening panel that is done is looking for four pathogens that can pass through human milk.

2. Follow careful pumping, labeling, and storage procedures.

Why is this required?

The storage procedure is required to prevent contamination and retain important qualities of the milk. Labeling records the age of the milk, the donor, and enables us to track whether milk was pumped during a deferral period.

3. Donate a minimum of 150 ounces of milk over the entire donation period, which can last up to six months. Donors who would like to donate again after six months will need to undergo blood screening again.

Why is this required?

Our milk bank is a nonprofit and the total cost of screening an individual donor, including bloodwork, staff time, shipping milk (for donors outside of Pittsburgh) is nearly $400. Having a modest minimum helps to offset this expense.

Get Started with the Screening Process

   1. Fill out the contact form

Fill out the Start My Screening form and schedule your interview. 5 min

2. Phone interview

A screener will review the information that you provided in the contact form and ask you some additional medical questions. More details about the screening and donation process will be shared with you and any questions that you may have will be answered. 15 - 20 min.

3. Complete the application packet

A screener will email a link to you. Just a few more health and lifestyle questions. 15 min.

4. Review of the application packet

A screener will look over your application packet. 3-7 business days.

5. Blood Screening

We contract with Quest, LabCorp, and CORE so that every donor has a convenient option. The time it takes to get blood work varies by site. Results complete in 3-5 business days.

6. Approval

Arrangements will be made for you to drop off your milk at the milk bank/depot or a cooler and shipping instructions will be mailed to you. All shipping costs are paid by the milk bank.

Pumping and Storage Guidelines for Milk Donation

Hand Washing

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before pumping.

Storage bags or containers

Any commercially available bag or bottle that is specifically made for breast milk is acceptable. Only pump into clean bottles or new bags.


Use a permanent marker to label each bag or bottle with the following information: Donor ID Number, Date (month/date/year) pumped. It’s easiest to label bags before filling them. Freezer full of milk stored before you started the screening process and were assigned a donor number? No problem. When you pack your milk, simply place bags in a larger Ziploc type of bag and label that bag with your donor number.


Any brand of pump is acceptable. Be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance.


Be sure to not overfill bags or bottles. Doing so may result in leakage when the milk is thawed in our lab and we do not want any of your donation to be wasted. Fill bags only to the marked fill line and seal well. Leave at least 1 inch of headspace when filling bottles.


Place pumped milk in the freezer as quickly as possible- immediately is ideal. Donated milk must not be left in the refrigerator for more than 48 hours prior to freezing. Store in the back or bottom of your freezer, never in the door where temperatures are the warmest. If you will be mixing milk from more than one pumping session, cool in the refrigerator before combining. Do not mix milk that was pumped more than 24 hours apart.

Cleaning your pump

Proper maintenance and cleaning of your pump and pump parts is very important to prevent contamination. Pump parts must be washed in warm soapy water after each pumping session. Please sanitize pump part once a day using commercially available steam bags or by boiling on a stovetop.

  1. Disassemble the pump parts.
  2. Wash in warm soapy water and rinse in clean water.
  3. Place pump parts in a sauce pan and completely cover with clean water.
  4. Bring to a boil and boil for five minutes.
  5. Drain using a colander and let the pump parts cool in the saucepan.
  6. Place a clean towel or paper towel on a clean surface. After cooling, place the pump parts on the towel using clean tongs or freshly washed hands.
  7. After the pump parts are dry, place them in a sealable plastic bag until they are used again.
Steam Bag
  1. Disassemble the pump parts.
  2. Wash in warm soapy water and rinse in clean water.
  3. Place pump parts in the bag and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. The sanitized pump parts can remain in the steamer bag or be placed in a sealable plastic bag until they are used again.
What might make me unable to donate my milk?
  • Use of tobacco or marijuana products of any kind, or having a household member smoking or vaping in your home.
  • While many medications are compatible with milk donation, some are not. Of note, high blood pressure medications are not compatible with milk donation.
  • Consuming more than 24 ounces of caffeinated beverages per day.
  • Frequent consumption of alcohol (daily).
Drop offs and shipping

Drop offs and shipping

Thanks to our Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood program, approved donors can arrange to drop off milk at the following locations:

Excela Square at Norwin
An Excela Health affiliated community medical center.
8775 Norwin Avenue
Irwin, PA 15642

Lehigh Valley Breastfeeding Center
An Eastern Pennsylvania practice dedicated to assisting mothers and mothers-to-be on the their prenatal, parenting, and breastfeeding journey.
1517 Pond Road
Allentown, PA 18104

LifeCycle Womancare
A non-profit birth and women’s healthcare center that provides exceptional healthcare services for women of all ages.
918 County Line Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank
3127 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201

UPMC Altoona – Main Lobby
620 Howard Avenue
Altoona, PA 16606

Don’t live near a dropoff site? No problem! Shipping is always an option and it is easy. We send you a box with packing instructions and FedEx or UPS picks the box up from your home.

Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood
Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood

Learn more about Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood, the program for dispensaries and depots throughout our footprint.

How is my milk processed?

How is my milk processed?

Testing and pasteurization

  • Drug Testing: All milk pools are tested for a panel of common drugs including those that may be used during the post-partum period.
  • Nutritional Analysis: Calorie, protein, fat, and carbohydrate content information allows NICUs to create the best human milk nutrition plan for each tiny preemie.
  • Pasteurization: Once bottled, milk goes through a low temperature pasteurization process which eliminates pathogens while keeping important bioactive components intact.
  • Bacterial Culturing: After pasteurization, a random sample is taken from each batch and sent to the lab of a local hospital for bacterial culturing.

Learn more about how it works.

Special milk

  • Isolation: Preterm milk is used in the NICU. Milk from donors with special diets is used by outpatients with allergies/sensitivities.
  • Skimming: Sometimes after cardiac surgery, babies develop a complication that requires a very low-fat diet. If these babies do not have access to their own mother’s milk, which can be defatted in the hospital, we skim donor milk for them in our lab.
  • Cream: We never waste milk. Cream is used by both NICUs and outpatients for specific purposes.
Where does donor milk go?

Where does donor milk go?

Your donated milk will make a big difference in the health of a baby. It will be used in one or more of the following ways:

  • Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs): Approximately 75-80% of the milk donated to our milk bank is used by NICUs and cardiac intensive care units (CICUs). Typical NICU recipients are babies born at or below 1.8 kg (3 lbs. 15 oz.) or those with congenital or acquired gastrointestinal or cardiac issues. There are thousands of NICU recipients in our region each year.
  • Mother Baby Units: Some hospitals use donor milk for all babies who require supplementation, even healthy babies. Such supplementation is usually very minimal. More hospitals are expanding to this type of use to support healthy gut bacteria and promote maternal exclusive breastfeeding success. Currently, less than 5% of the donor milk from our bank is used in this way.
  • Outpatients: Outpatient use is 25-30% of donor milk from our milk bank. A prescription is required, and the vast majority of these recipients have very significant medical issues. Medically necessary donor milk is typically covered by insurance. Many of these babies have rare conditions or have exhausted all other nutrition options. Outpatient recipients consume 20-30+ ounces per day. At any given time, we have more than a dozen outpatients in our care.
    Occasionally, we receive prescriptions for discretionary use where there is little to no access to mother’s own milk such as adoption, mastectomy, or bridge milk, and the baby does not have a documented medical need. These prescriptions are filled only if all hospital and ill outpatient needs are met and such milk is unlikely to be covered by insurance.
  • HMBANA Sister Milk Banks: One of the best things about being a non-profit milk bank accredited by HMBANA is sharing. Since all 27 milk banks follow the same strict safety guidelines, we can help one another to ensure that all NICUs and ill outpatients across the United States and Canada have what they need. Our milk bank has been both a giver and a recipient. The sharing that our milk bank does is very minimal.
Costs of donated milk

Costs of donated milk

Donor milk requires testing and pasteurization for the safety of its recipients who typically have complex medical needs. (Learn more about safety here.) The milk bank, similar to a blood bank, relies on fees from hospitals or recipients to cover the significant costs associated with donor screening, testing, and processing.

This fee, in the NICU, is paid by the hospital, as each hospital orders a supply and distributes it according to their own evidence-based criteria. For outpatients with documented medical needs, the cost of donor milk is typically covered by insurance. For the occasional cases of medically necessary donor milk that are not covered, Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank has an income-based sliding scale program to offset costs for families.

A lot goes into every ounce of medicine