Any lactating woman, who is in good physical and mental health and not on any medications or drugs and has an excess amount of milk after satisfactorily feeding her baby, is eligible to donate her milk. All willing mothers will be screened for certain conditions before they can donate their breast milk.
There are some standard screening tests that are done on all mothers, by breast milk banks across the world. If you have had a booked pregnancy in the hospital, most of these tests would have already been done and you will not need to do any further tests as long as you have all the results with you. The breast milk bank staff will advice you regarding this and will conduct any tests only if required.
Almost any nursing mother can become a breast milk donor. If you are healthy with a good medical history, you are a likely candidate. You will need to complete a medical questionnaire and have to sign a consent form for donation.
Breast milk is expressed or pumped by the mother herself, using a breast pump in the comfort of her house. The expressed milk is then labeled and stored in sterile containers provided by the milk bank, in the freezer at home. The breast milk bank has a collection service which will pick up the frozen milk and transport it safely to the milk bank on a regular basis.
Once the expressed milk reaches the bank it is stored safely and when sufficient amount of milk is collected it is then pasteurized (process of removing bacteria/virus) using specialized equipment. This pasteurized milk is then further tested to make sure it is free of any infection and then stored in containers in hospital grade deep freezers. This milk is now infection free and can be dispatched for the preterm infants as and when the need arises.
A donor cannot donate milk if she uses illegal drugs, tobacco products or nicotine replacement therapy; or regularly takes more than two ounces of alcohol or its equivalent or three caffeinated drinks per day; if she has a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B or C or syphilis or is herself or has a sexual partner suffering from HBV, HIV, HCV and venereal diseases. If she has mastitis or fungal infection of the nipple or areola, active herpes simplex or varicella zoster infections in the mammary or thoracic region she will not be able to donate breast milk. However it is best to discuss with the friendly breast milk staff before ruling yourself out and missing on the opportunity of donating milk and saving precious babies!
Although in most healthy mothers the human milk is sterile and free of infection, in some conditions the expressed milk can get infected, when a mother might be carrying an infection or sometimes the milk can get contaminated during the process of expressing or transporting the milk. To make sure that the milk that is being given to the premature baby is free from any form of infection, expressed human milk should always be pasteurized. Pasteurization is a process by which the milk is rapidly heated and cooled so as to remove most bacteria and virus, with very little loss to its nutrient value!
No, we do not provide any mandatory compensation to our donors, we depend on the generosity of the mothers to share their surplus milk (after they have fed their own baby) with us. However we do supply breast milk storage bottles.
If you are already expressing your milk for your own baby, you can continue the same process of expressing the milk. If you are expressing for the first time, please contact the milk bank and we will be more than happy to guide you through the process.
Across India, infants’ medical need for Donor Human Milk far surpasses the supply and continues to increase. According to W.H.O., India sits on top of the list with maximum pre-term births every year at 3.5 million pre-term births! Increasing preterm birth rates mean an increased need for donor milk in the neonatal intensive care units. Preterm infants are most in need of human milk, yet their moms are the least likely to be able to provide what they need in the earliest days of life. Mothers who have surplus milk can help fill this need and give fragile infants a better chance to grow and thrive.