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.
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.
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.
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.
Fill out the Start My Screening form and schedule your interview. 5 min
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.
A screener will email a link to you. Just a few more health and lifestyle questions. 15 min.
A screener will look over your application packet. 3-7 business days.
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.
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.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before pumping.
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.
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.
Thanks to our Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood program, approved donors can arrange to drop off milk at the following locations:
Mid-Atlantic Mother’s Milk Bank
3127 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15201
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
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
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.
Learn more about Donor Milk in Your Neighborhood, the program for dispensaries and depots throughout our footprint.
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:
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.