Tuesday, March 13, 2012

How to Bank Your Breast Milk for Babies in Need

If you've ever spent time agonizing over your constant need to express milk or trying to plot where in the world you are going to store that extra milk, then you might consider banking your breast milk. Banking with an accredited Human Milk Bank Association of North America (HMBANA) bank provides another child in need with the best food nature can provide and the most likely recipients are the ones who need it the most - preemies and sick infants. There are only 11 banks in the United States, making your choice fairly easy. The bank will pay for screening and shipping.

What are banks looking for?
There is a shortage of milk at the moment, so banks will be eager to take you up on your donation. However, they need to make sure that the milk you provide doesn't transfer illness or any detrimental substances to the infant who receives it. A blood test will often be required. They need breast milk that is free of many herbs and medications. Women who use illegal drugs are not eligible. Women are not eligible if they are infected with or at risk of contracting:
  • HIV 
  • Hepatitis B or C
  • syphilis
  • HTLV
You cannot donate if you:
  • have had an organ or tissue transplant in the past year
  • drink more than two ounces of alcohol a day
  • smoke or use tobacco products
  • have been to the UK for more than three months
  • lived in Europe for more than five years
  • were born in or traveled to Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Niger, or Nigeria

For a map of the HMBANA banks, click here.

If you decide to start banking, you'll want to begin storing your excess breast milk if you haven't already. Frozen breast milk can be used for up to 12 months after it was initially stored, although is best used before six months. Use bags meant specifically for freezing human milk or glass or hard plastic containers with well-fitting tops. If using plastic, make sure it is bisphenol A (BPA)-free. Containers should be properly washed with soap and hot water and fully dried before use. Leave a little room at the top of the container to allow for expansion once frozen. Fill each container with only as much milk needed for a single feeding (approx. 2-4 oz.). Label all containers with the date they were initially stored.

Do you have an oversupply of breast milk?

Do you want to donate your surplus milk to help a sick or fragile infant? [Human Milk Banking Association of the America]
What are the LLLI guidelines for storing my pumped milk? [LLLI]
Photo Credit: Azoreg