Milk Bottle With Label

Milk Donor FAQs

(757) 668-6455

Is there a professional organization that governs milk banks?

The King’s Daughters Milk Bank at CHKD is one of only 26 non-profit milk banks who are members of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. HMBANA is a multidisciplinary group of health care providers promoting, protecting and supporting safe donor human milk banking. It is the only professional membership association for non-profit milk banks in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, and sets the standards and guidelines for donor milk banking in those areas.

Is donor human milk safe?

To ensure the safety of donor human milk, the Milk Bank follows strict screening, processing and dispensing guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. These guidelines were established under the advisement of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the blood and tissue industries.

Potential donors provide complete medical and lifestyle histories and undergo blood tests similar to the screening for blood banking industries. Donated milk is then tested for bacteria after pasteurization to ensure its safety.

Why can’t a mother provide milk for her own baby?

There are many reasons a mother may not be able to meet her baby’s needs:

  • A mother may be pumping for twins or triplets and not an adequate supply. The stress of having a hospitalized, ill infant whom she cannot hold or directly nurse can affect milk production.
  • A mother may require medications that could pass into breast milk and be harmful to the infant.
  • A chronic infection such as HIV or HTLV or another medical condition can preclude a mother from breastfeeding.
  • A breast infection can temporarily affects a mother’s milk production.

Do I qualify to be a milk bank donor?

Donors must be in good general health and be breastfeeding or pumping expressed breast milk (bereaved or surrogate mothers are also eligible to donate). Donors can not smoke or use medication or herbal supplements (with a few exceptions). Please call (757) 668-6455 (MILK) for a phone interview to find out if you qualify to donate.

What does the donor screening process involve?

The screening is a three-step process beginning with a phone interview, the completion of an information packet about yourself and your baby, and finally a blood test, paid for by The King's Daughters Milk Bank. We will also contact your physician and your baby's physician to have them complete a letter of recommendation regarding both your health and the health of your baby.

Am I paid for my milk donation?

Donors receive no payment or compensation for their donation, except the satisfaction of knowing they have helped improve the health of a fragile baby and bring relief to their families.

Can I donate milk that I've already frozen before being screened?

Assuming that proper pumping hygiene was used,  breast milk storage containers are dated, and the milk is less than 6 months old, your frozen milk will likely be accepted.

What medications can I take and still be a milk donor?

Prenatal vitamins not containing herbs, Tylenol, Advil, most allergy medications and low dose estrogen birth control pills (prefer progestin only) are acceptable to take while pumping for the Milk Bank. You may also obtain the flu shot and continue to pump for the Milk Bank. If you are taking medications, please call the Milk Bank to find out if there are any restrictions.

I am pumping for the Milk Bank, and I am now sick. Can I still donate my milk?

Temporarily, we cannot accept milk if you, your baby or any member of your household becomes ill, unless it is an uncomplicated cold, seasonal runny nose, or allergies in which the sick person's temperature is not greater than 100 degrees orally.

With other illnesses, we cannot accept milk collected from 24 hours before the person becomes ill until 24 hours after they are well. If you are the sick individual and are given antibiotics or other drugs, there may be an additional period of time that we are unable to accept pumped milk. The Milk Bank staff will be happy to further explain any reasons for temporary deferral of pumped milk. If you are considering becoming a donor and are storing pumped milk, try to keep a log of any illness dates (self, family and household members).

Can I drink alcohol and be a milk donor?

After any alcohol intake you must wait 12 hours before pumping and storing milk for the Milk Bank.

How much milk do I need to donate?

The initial donation for  non-local donor must be at least 200 ounces. For local donors, the initial donation must be at least 50 ounces. Any subsequent donations can be of any amount, and you may donate as many times as you like. If you prefer to be a one-time donor, that is fine too. For legacy donors, no minimum is required.

I do not live close to the Milk Bank. Can I still donate?

After being accepted as a milk donor, we will ship you a cooler if you live out of the area. We will guide you through the packing and shipping of your milk donation and cover all costs associated with getting your frozen milk from your doorstep to the milk bank. Non-local donors will need to donate a minimum of 200 ounces with each donation to ensure that the donation remains frozen during the overnight shipping.

Can I make a cash donation to support the Milk Bank?

Tax-deductible monetary contributions can be made for the Milk Bank through chkd.org/donations. At this time, donation of milk is not tax-deductible, but, together, HMBANA milk banks hope to make this a reality.

Are patients/babies that receive donor human milk charged for it?

At CHKD, we do NOT charge hospitalized patients for donor human milk treatments. Donor human milk is also not reimbursed by insurance. We recognize the value of human milk, especially for pre-term infants, and provide this treatment at no cost to our most vulnerable hospitalized patients. 

Other hospitals providing donor human milk to their patients are charged a processing fee only. This fee covers the cost of screening, processing, bottling, testing, labeling, tracking and overnight shipment of the frozen pasteurized milk. The milk itself is not sold. This processing fee ensures that these hospitals are receiving the safest treatment for their smallest patients, and keeps non-profit HMBANA milk banks open and operational.  

Who supports the use of Donor Human Milk?

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
Food & Drug Administration
National Institute of Health
American Academy of Pediatrics
World Health Organization
Surgeon General of the United States
The Joint Commission 
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Human Milk Banking Assoc. of North America
National Association of Neonatal Nurses
LaLeche League  
World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
... and more

(757) 668-6455

Our Team

Meet the Milk Bank Team:

  • Michelle Brenner, MD, IBCLC - Medical Director
  • Ashlynn Baker, BSN, RN, IBCLC - Milk Bank Manager
  • Catherine "Kitty" Katz, RN, IBCLC - Lactation Consultant
  • Megan Crain - Donor Intake Coordinator
  • Vivian "Peaches" Garrett - Milk Technician
  • Elizabeth Wilton - Milk Technician
  • Paula Williams - Milk Technician
  • and a group of dedicated and generous volunteers including the Junior League of Norfolk/Va. Beach

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