Rockville Lactation

Lynnette Hafken, MA, IBCLC

Lactation Consultant

text (fastest response) or call: (240) 888-2123

email: [email protected]

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IMPORTANT NOTE RE: FORMULA SHORTAGE: If you are using formula and cannot find it (or you can and want to let parents know where), see findmybabyformula.com

Donor Human Milk

Note: None of the following should be considered an endorsement of informal milk sharing. Please discuss how you will feed your baby with your pediatrician. If you choose to go against their recommendations, it is important to let them know so they can accurately monitor your baby's health. 

If you choose to use donor breastmilk, the safest way to get it is from an HMBANA-certified milk bank. The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics advise against informal milk sharing, but if you plan to do so anyway, it's a good idea to follow the same screening and pasteurization practices as milk banks:

Source: Brent, N. (2013). The Risks and Benefits of Human Donor Breast Milk. Pediatric Annals, 42(5), e94–e100.doi:10.3928/00904481-20130426-11

Other blood-borne illnesses include cytomegalovirus, tuberculosis, and West Nile virus. 

Donors are asked about:

  • milk collection and storage practices
  • presence of open sores, blisters, or cracks on the skin of their breasts
  • risk factors for communicable sexually transmitted diseases of self and partner

Though this may be an uncomfortable conversation, one study found that 3% of would-be donors were unknowingly positive for one or more transmittable blood borne illnesses. Milk banks recommend that screening be done every three to six months. 

Pasteurization reduces risk of contamination and bacterial/viral transmission. Flash pasteurization (maintaining the milk at 164 degrees Fahrenheit [73 degrees Celsius] for 5 seconds) and Holder pasteurization (maintaining the milk at 145 degrees Fahrenheit [63 degrees Celsius] for 30 minutes) are common methods. You will need a digital instant-read thermometer for these methods.

Premature or immunocompromised babies should never be given anything other than their mother's own milk, safely prepared infant formula, or milk from an HMBANA-certified human milk bank.