Would You Use Breast Milk From a Milk Bank?

A mom I know wanted to supplement a bit with formula during her first days of breastfeeding. Our local hospital informed her that they will provide pasteurized breast milk from a milk bank, but won’t give families formula. She was a bit shocked and horrified by the thought of feeding her newborn breast milk from other women. We live in a pretty breastfeeding friendly town, so it didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I wasn’t ever in that position. Does breast milk from a milk bank make you feel uncomfortable?

I think for me it would have been a huge relief! My milk supply dropped suddenly when I went back to work, but I didn’t want to use formula. I was exhausted from the effort and stress of pumping multiple times each day. A small amount of breast milk from a bank would have probably helped me just relax and move through the transition more easily.

Have you used breast milk from a bank? Would you be hesitant to use it? Are there barriers to obtaining breast milk from a bank that you found difficult to overcome? Have you ever donated to a breast milk bank?


  1. My question is what wonderful place are you living in that the local hospital would do that?! The nurse’s first question at our pediatrician appointment was, “What kind of formula is she on?”

    I understand the initial hesitation, but think about milk from cows…that really is much stranger. Plus, it’s pasteurized. I always learned that the order of what you should give your baby, from most ideal to least ideal, is your milk from your breast, your milk expressed, human milk from a bank, formula.

  2. I had an oversupply of milk with both my kids. I was planning to donate my leftover milk with my first but had an unexpected drop in supply with my (unexpected) second pregnancy. I was able to give my daughter breastmilk up until a week or so before her first birthday thanks to a friend who gave me dozens of bottles of her breastmilk. I never thought I’d do that before having kids! The milk banks I had looked into donating to require that you have a pretty hefty supply to donate- something like 200 ounces. I would have prefered to donate to someone local like my friend did for me. Great question!

  3. I was blessed with an oversupply of breastmilk. Its totally awesome to be able to donate milk to the milkbank here in Canada. They have a 100 ounce minimum donation and they are VERY thorough in what they accept. We have to go through a oral questionaire, written questionaire, blood tests and very stringient cleaning habits. They test for bacteria before and after pasteurization and any milk found with bacteria is thrown out (sadly!). If you or your baby is sick they will refuse the milk for the duration of the sickness. But if I ever needed the milk, I would totally use it since I know how strict it is to be able to donate. (its almost a 6 week process to be able to donate which is tough, but at least I know that its safe). With my first baby I donated over 300 ounces in just 6 weeks and I`m well on my way with the same amount with my second. A good friend of mine has already taken a few ounces so that her and her husband can go out on a date. If you have the extra milk, I encourage you to donate it and help out other babies. Such a good experience!

  4. no stranger than a blood transfusion – the milk is tested as thoroughly, and definitely better than formula, especially for preemies – I just finished collecting 100 oz to donate, although the nearest bank is states away – they send me a cooler to overnight frozen milk – I only wish there was a local bank – we need more than the few we have spread thinly across the states. Next time around I’d find it easier to just donate to a friend in need (e.g. someone who has adopted or can’t BF for some reason)

  5. I was unable to donate my excess to a milk bank because I drink herbal tea nearly every day. Instead I donated directly to a local Mom I connected with through the La Leche League. She was using a supplemental nursing system (SNS) and donor milk because she truly had a low supply. With lots of work she was able to stop using the SNS a few months back.

    It felt great giving the milk to someone who needed it, and If I was ever in need I would use the donor milk and SNS just like she did. Her experience was a true success story, with the lesson that you have to work hard and not give up if your supply is low.

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