Milk Banks: What Are They About?

The Next Family

By Wendy Wright-IBCLC Co-Founder and Lactation Consultant of the 16 Minute Club


Milk Banks: What Are They All About?

Milk banks are a great resource to mothers who are unable to breastfeed or have an adopted or surrogate baby with a medical condition that requires breast milk, such as being born premature, formula intolerance, and allergies. Here’s everything you need to know to get your precious little one the nutrients they need.

Rely on Banks Over Friendly Donations

There are many moms who mean well and will offer you milk donations. However, it is just best to get milk from a certified milk bank since that milk is screened thoroughly. Even though dear friends in your mom circle may mean well, they can still pass on certain diseases (without even knowing it). There is also a chance that her diet is a little too full of caffeine or other common items which could affect the milk and how your baby sleeps.

How Safe Is Milk Bank Milk?

The milk banks in America have very strict guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. The guidelines were put together by a team of pediatricians and health care workers. The banks screen thoroughly for infectious diseases. They also rule out any milk donated by women who received blood transfusions or any transplants within the previous year.

Donors also are heavily regulated on how much alcohol they drink, and they are not allowed to smoke. Even vegans and vegetarians who do not supplement their diet with vitamin B12 will not be considered. Donors then have to follow sanitary guidelines when expressing and storing the milk.

Is Milk From Milk Banks As Good As Fresh Breast Milk?

When the milk bank receives milk, they pasteurize it to kill bacteria and viruses. They will also freeze the milk if needed. The pasteurization process does lower the quality of the breast milk, slightly; however, the milk will still be full of good antibodies in it. Donated milk is still highly superior in nutrition to formula, too.

Milk Bank Costs

Buying donated milk can be a bit pricey. On average, the bank charges $3 per ounce of milk. Most newborns eat around 20-ounces a day, which means a day’s worth of milk will cost $60. The price is steep, but there are many insurance companies that will cover a portion or complete cost of the milk. Sometimes the milk banks can help with financial costs too in certain circumstances.

Milk banks are a wonderful tool for mothers who can’t breastfeed but want to give their babies the best nutrition. Talk with your baby’s doctor to get a prescription for milk and for more information about getting donated milk for your little one.

Wendy Wright is a lactation consultant for The 16 Minute Club– the one-and-only breastfeeding subscription box designed and curated by a lactation consultant.  They are focused on helping new nursing mothers meet their breastfeeding goals, providing tons of relevant information based on baby’s developmental stage and offering a selection of age-appropriate tools and treats to get families through potential breastfeeding obstacles that can occur along the way. 

Photo “Baby Bottle” by Jeff Lautenberger is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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