When my daughter’s pediatrician asked me how breastfeeding was going at her three-month checkup, I practically exploded with my story of massive oversupply. I was pumping an extra two to three bottles of milk a day. In spite of all the blogs and all the tips on using excess milk, there aren’t too many people who can relate to the serious problem over-supply can create.
Little E’s pediatrician was the first person to tell me about milk donation. And my own doctor had agreed it was a good idea at my subsequent meeting the following month. But I had no idea what it was, how it worked, what to expect….
Breast milk donation shouldn’t be complicated. So I complied a list of questions my past-self had back then, and let my future-self (currently in the present) answer them.
Wrap your head around that!
Will I have to pay for anything?
No! As a matter of fact, milk banks go out of their way to make sure you- and your insurance company – don’t pay a dime. They pay for the thermal shipping of the milk, send milk bags, and pay for your blood work during the initial screening.
Will the milk bank sell my milk?
That depends on how you look at it. Milk banks generally provide breast milk to patients with a prescription. Like most prescriptions, there is an exchange of money at the time the prescription is filled. Non-profit milk banks will use that money for operating costs, whereas some for-profit companies like Prolacta will use it to create a line of milk-based products.
Am I allowed to drink alcohol?
Girl, yaaaaas! There are a few rules, though. Every milk bank will have their own guidelines, but the general gist is that expressed milk is safe for donation if it is pumped two or more hours after having one drink, and six or more hours after two or more drinks. Talk to your milk bank to find out their specific guidelines on consuming alcohol.
Will I need to stop taking medications?
That depends. Most over-the-counter medications, such as Tylenol, are okay in moderation. However, in the world of breast milk donations, medications that may be fine for you to take while nursing your own baby, may be unfriendly for donor milk. Think about it; a lot of these recipients are not in the healthiest condition. Be sure to discuss ALL the medications you take, including over-the-counter drugs, with the donation center during your initial screening.
How long will my milk be good for donation?
Six months in the freezer is the general rule-of-thumb. However, some banks are known to take milk that has been stored longer. For example, milk stored in a “deep freeze” can be kept longer, and may be accepted on a case-by-case basis.
Will I be compensated for my donation?
That depends on the bank. From personal experience, I’ve noticed, for-profit milk banks generally will compensate you, and non-profit milk banks will not. This will obviously vary from one organization to another. Neither option is “bad” or immoral. At Mother’s Milk Bank, I was not compensated – but I was also so desperate to get rid of the 800 ounces of expressed milk that had taken over my freezer, I would have paid money for them to take it. They only accepted about half. In hindsight, I could have really used that $1/oz Prolacta offers.
Have an experience to share about becoming a milk donor? Tell me in the comments below! And don’t forget to subscribe to be updated on my newest posts.