Milk Depots and Milk Banks

Donor milk is a wonderful way for babies to receive human milk when a mother is unable to provide enough milk for her own baby. It is particularly helpful to nourish premature babies. According to a joint statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), “The best food for a baby who cannot be breastfed is milk expressed from the mother’s breast, or from another healthy mother. The best food for any baby whose own mother’s milk is not available is the breastmilk of another healthy mother.”

Milk Banks collect, screen, pasteurize and dispense donor human milk. Many communities don’t have Milk Banks, but rather have Milk Depots, which are locations where mothers can donate their milk. Neither Lincoln nor Omaha have a Milk Bank, but they both have Milk Depots.

The Process to Donate Milk

If you are interested in donating breast milk, please contact the Milk Bank associated with the Milk Depot you plan to use. The Milk Bank will interview you over the phone to discuss your lifestyle, medication use, and lactation history. Once you are approved through the interview process, the Milk Bank will schedule a location and time for you to have your blood tested and will assign you a donor number.

The Milk Bank will provide you with storage containers and instructions on storing your pumped milk. Milk Banks prefer that you are able to donate at least a total of 150 ounces of milk while you are breastfeeding your baby, up to one year of age. There is no minimum or maximum amount per donation. Milk pumped prior to screening will be accepted if you are approved to be a donor through the interview process.

Once donated milk is received at a Milk Bank, the milk from three to five donors is pooled together and thoroughly mixed to ensure an even distribution of milk components. The milk is then gently pasteurized, with 97% of the milk components remaining. The milk is tested for bacteria growth through the pasteurization process. Any contaminated milk is discarded. The milk is tested once more after pasteurization is complete, frozen, and then stored, ready to be shipped. It usually has an expiration date six months out. Pasteurized donor milk is shipped overnight on dry ice to keep it frozen.

Local Milk Depots include:   

March 2017