Is there a professional organization that governs milk banks?

The King’s Daughters Milk Bank at CHKD is one of only 27 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 pasteurized donor human milk safe?

To ensure the safety of pasteurized 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 have 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, 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?

Lactating donors must be in good health and be breastfeeding or pumping expressed breast milk (bereaved or surrogate mothers are also eligible to donate). Donors are allowed to take a variety of medications (OTC and prescribed) and vitamins but must refrain from smoking, consuming alcohol daily, or taking herbal supplements. 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 electronic questionnaire 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. We will reimburse donors with breast milk storage supplies.

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

Your milk will likely be accepted if you meet the milk bank’s breast pump cleaning requirements, as well as proper milk handling, storage, and labeling guidelines.

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

Prenatal vitamins, Tylenol, Advil, most allergy medications, several antidepressants, thyroid 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 or medication 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. If you are considering being a donor and are storing pumped milk, try to keep a log of any alcohol consumption dates.

How much milk do I need to donate?

The initial donation for non-local donor must be at least 200 ounces for each donation to ensure that your milk remains frozen during shipping. For local donors, the initial donation must be at least 50 ounces. 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 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 pasteurized donor human milk charged for it?

At CHKD, we do NOT charge hospitalized patients for pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM) treatments. PDHM treatments are 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 pasteurized donor human milk to their patients are charged a processing fee only. This fee is paid for by the hospital, not the family, and 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