Donor Milk

Mother breast feeding her baby girl

Donor Milk

Breastmilk is the prefect food for your baby, and the best breastmilk is your own. However, if you cannot provide breastmilk, donor milk may be available from your hospital or local milk bank. If your baby is born prematurely, or is sick, he may need to be cared for in the hospital until he is strong enough to go home. Learn more about what’s in breast milk.

Receiving breastmilk during your baby’s hospital stay can shorten his time in the hospital and prevent infections. Breastmilk also helps your baby’s immune system fight bacteria and viruses while providing the best nutrition to develop and grow. Best of all, babies fed breastmilk while hospitalized are able to go home sooner than babies fed formula.

Your baby may continue drinking donor milk even after going home from the hospital. However, in many areas, donor milk is in limited supply and the most fragile babies are the highest priority. You will need a prescription from your pediatrician to receive donor milk.

Is Donated Milk Safe?

Donated breast milk is very safe; it comes from mothers that have pumped more milk than their own baby can eat. Before mothers can donate milk, they are tested for any illness that could pass through their breastmilk. Each container of milk is also tested for harmful bacteria.

The donor milk is then pasteurized to eliminate any infecting organism that could be present in the milk. A small percentage of nutritional and immunological properties are destroyed by pasteurization, but pasteurized milk retains many of its beneficial properties. It contains tremendous special properties that cannot be duplicated by commercial milk formulas.

Compiled from the following References:

Steele, T., Puopolo, K., (2005). Donor Breast Milk Use in the NICU. American Academy of Pediatrics. Retrieved from

Human Milk Bank Association of North America. (n.d.). Milk Processing. Retrieved from

Northwest Mothers Milk Bank. (n.d.) About Milk Banking. Retrieved from