Order milk
Order milk

Both hospitalized babies and those being cared for at home can use donor human milk. In the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), the use of donor milk is associated with lower rates of serious complications, shorter hospital stays, and higher rates of exclusive maternal breastfeeding at discharge. For outpatients, donor milk can help babies with certain conditions, sensitivities, and allergies thrive and grow. Bridge milk, which refers to short term supplementation either in well babies in the maternity unit or at home can be a bridge to breastfeeding success. For more detailed information regarding the medical benefits of donor milk, please visit our Clinical Info page.

Donor milk is distributed by prescription or hospital order only. Frozen pasteurized donor human milk is available in 200ml, 100ml, and 50ml bottles. Donor milk processing fees pay for donor screening/bloodwork, bottles, milk testing, equipment, lab, and staff time.

Local hospitals typically use a courier service to transport milk, and local outpatients may pick donor milk up at our facility in the Strip District. For hospitals and outpatients outside of the greater Pittsburgh area, donor milk is shipped overnight by FedEx.

For Hospitals, birth centers, and lactation centers

All donor milk from our milk bank is pasteurized, drug tested, nutritionally analyzed, and undergoes post-pasteurization bacterial culture testing. Visit our Clinical Info page to learn about our procedures, testing, and other services. We offer a number of types of milk to serve the needs of the babies that you care for:

  • Term milk: 20 kcal/oz
  • High calorie milk: 22kca/oz or 24 kcal/oz
  • Pre-term milk: The first four weeks of milk up to 36 weeks gestation. For example, the milk of a donor that delivered at 33 weeks would be considered pre-term for the first three weeks.
  • De-fatted milk: Milk that has been mechanically skimmed. Fat content of 1% or less.
  • Cream: The byproduct of the skimming process. Varies in nutritional content. Contact us for more information.
  • Specialty diets: Milk that that is donated by mothers with dairy restricted or soy restricted diets.  Please note that while such donors are often following these diets because of the health of themselves or their babies, the milk bank cannot control the diets of donors.
cost of breast milk chart
For prescribing healthcare providers

Donor milk is distributed by hospital order or prescription only. Download our prescriber packet for outpatient donor milk. Prescriptions can be faxed to 412-281-4236.

Download the recipient registration packet that must be completed by the family. If there is a medical need for donor milk it is likely to be covered by insurance. Preauthorization is required by most plans. A request for preauthorization must be made by the prescribing healthcare provider, per the policies of most insurers. A letter of medical necessity may be required. For your convenience, a medical necessity form is included in the prescriber packet.

If you have any questions about insurance coverage, please contact Sara Vins Bobish, Business Manager, at svinsbobish@midatlanticmilkbank.org or 412-281-4400 ext. 111.

For families

There are many reasons why a family may directly order donor milk.

Babies with certain conditions, such as malabsorption disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, congenital heart disease, and allergies, can greatly benefit from the nutritional and immunological support of donor milk. Occasionally, there are infants that are not thriving and growing adequately, even with a prescription formula. Donor milk can make a big difference for all of these babies.

Sometimes a small amount of supplementation is required for well babies as mothers work on establishing their milk supplies or work through latching issues. The use of donor milk to bridge the gap as these issues resolve may be a helpful tool to get breastfeeding on track.

Ordering outpatient milk for your child

  1. Contact your child’s healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will need to submit a prescription for donor milk. Download our healthcare provider packet. If donor milk is medically necessary, the prescribing healthcare provider will need to contact your insurance plan to initiate preauthorization prior to your order.
  2. Complete the recipient registration packet. Forms may be emailed to orders@midatlanticmilkbank.org, faxed to 412-281-4236, or mailed/dropped off to: Mid-Atlantic Mothers’ Milk Bank, 3127 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15201.
  3. Arrange for pickup or shipping. We ship frozen donor milk overnight by FedEx for arrival in the mid to late morning. We typically ship milk Monday through Thursday for next day arrival. Local pickups are available Monday through Friday during normal business hours of 8:30am – 3:30pm.

If you or your healthcare provider have any questions do not hesitate to contact Sara Vins Bobish, Business Manager, at 412-281-4400 ext. 111 or svinsbobish@midatlanticmilkbank.org.

Each hospital orders a supply of donor milk and distributes it according to evidence-based guidelines developed by the clinical team of each institution. These guidelines may be based on gestational age, weight, or other risk factors. Under the most common structure of inpatient insurance reimbursement, it is typically the hospital that pays the milk processing fee.

Sometimes a family whose infant does not meet the hospital’s criteria chooses to use donor milk. In these cases, the milk processing fee is paid for by the family. If you are interested in privately paying for inpatient donor milk, please consult with your child’s medical team. You may also contact us at orders@midatlanticmilkbank.org.

Availability

Our organization relies on the generosity of our donors. In the event that there is a shortage of milk, distribution is prioritized by medical need. First priority is given to neonatal intensive care units and hospitals, then outpatients with medical needs, and finally bridge milk and discretionary use. Read our distribution policy.

Medical need vs discretionary use

Insurance is likely to cover a documented medical need for donor milk. If insurance coverage is unavailable, families in our region with an infant with a documented medical need are also eligible for the income based sliding scale fee discount program. A baby may have a condition that is known to be improved by the use of donor milk or a baby may have a formula intolerance that is creating symptoms and suppressing adequate growth. Documented trials of formula, perhaps including a specialty prescription only formula, may be required.

Discretionary use refers to the use of donor milk in situations where there is limited or no access to the mother’s own milk, but the infant has no medical issue that would prevent him/her from tolerating formula. Examples of discretionary use include scenarios such as adoption, breast surgery, or low milk supply.

Costs and insurance coverage
The cost of breastmilk
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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.

cost of breast milk chart

Insurance

Insurance may pay for outpatient donor milk when there is a documented medical need. Coverage for donor milk is evolving in our region, and we are seeing many more cases being covered. In August of 2017, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) added Medicaid coverage for medically indicated donor milk to their Fee For Service program. Many Managed Care Organizations (MCOs) have followed DHS’s lead. Other states have similar policies. Some states, such as New Jersey, have mandated donor milk coverage for certain circumstances.

Donor milk may also be purchased using employee Health Flexible Spending Accounts. Parents should contact their employers for more information.

We recognize the high cost associated with long term use of donor milk. To assist families in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, and Maryland, we have an income based sliding scale fee discount program (10%-90% discount) for babies with a medical need for donor milk who lack insurance coverage. The program is made possible through generous donations. To apply for the program, please email us at orders@midatlanticmilkbank.org.

If you have any questions regarding coverage, please contact Sara Vins Bobish, Business Manager, at 412 281-4400 ext. 111 or svinsbobish@midatlanticmilkbank.org.

Want to learn more?

If you would like an information packet which includes samples of patient education materials, please fill out the following: