While mother’s own milk is the gold standard for infants, many mothers of hospitalized infants are not able to provide the necessary volume of milk for their babies. The Canadian Paediatric Society states that donor human milk is a recommended alternative to formula in the absence of mother’s own milk for very low birth weight and hospitalized medically fragile babies.
Who is eligible to donate?
You may be able to donate your breastmilk if you are in good health, lactating with an abundant milk supply or have recently stored a large volume of milk. Bereaved mothers who wish to pump and donate their breastmilk are also eligible to donate.
You must also be:
- Free from smoking, illegal drug use and regular alcohol use
- Willing to complete a telephone interview and have medical release forms signed by your doctor
- Willing to undergo a blood test
- Not taking more medication than occasional over the counter remedies or supplements. Some exceptions apply
- Free from piercings or tatoo’s for one year – no acupuncture in the past 6 months (this applies to donor and their sexual partners)
- Willing to donate a minimum of 150 ounces or about five (5) litres of milk (the Milk Bank Lactation Consultant will help you with pumping strategies)
- Nursing a baby who is less than one year of age (ideally collection starts at birth to 6 months of age)
- Free of chronic infection (hepatitis B or C, or HIV)
Donor exclusions apply to those who have spent a total of five (5) years or more in Europe from 1980 to the present or more than three (3) months in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996, or for four (4) months following a blood transfusion.