Now that you’ve given birth as a surrogate, you will be saying hello to a whole host of postpartum symptoms, including breasts engorged with milk.  Some intended parents may be interested in having you pump breast milk for their baby, but if they are not interested, you may want to consider donating your milk.

The benefits of donating breast milk are twofold.  Firstly, pumping breast milk causes the body to produce oxytocin, which gives you a relaxed, calm, and euphoric feeling. It also helps to contract the uterus and return it to its normal size.  Secondly, the breast milk you donate can make an incredible difference in the life of a newborn or infant in need. For babies born premature or critically ill, donated breast milk can provide an important chance for survival.

Do I qualify to donate my breast milk?

According to the National Milk Bank, you are LIKELY to qualify as a donor if

  • You are generally healthy
  • You do not take medication on a regular basis
  • You do not smoke
  • You do not drink
  • Your home freezer reaches a temperature below -4F (-20 C)
  • You are not using fenugreek or any other lactation herb to increase your milk supply (e.g., Mother’s Milk Tea, blessed thistle, etc.)

You MIGHT still qualify as a donor if

  • You have had a major illness in the last 12 months
  • You have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • You have had vaccinations or shots in the last 12 months
  • You have had a major surgery in the last 12 months
  • You have taken certain medications
  • You have had a significant weight loss
  • You drink coffee or alcohol in moderation
  • You received blood or blood products longer than 12 months ago

You DO NOT qualify as a donor if

  • You have ever been infected with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
  • You have ever been infected with HIV, or a venereal disease within the last 12 months
  • You are diabetic requiring insulin injections
  • You have ever received human pituitary growth hormone or a dura mater transplant
  • You have a history of cancer
  • You lived in Europe for a total of 5 years between 1980-1996
  • You have a family history or increased risk for Mad Cow disease
  • You have ever injected drugs intravenously
  • You have had intimate contact with anyone at risk for HIV, HTLV or infectious hepatitis
  • You smoke, use any tobacco or a nicotine patch or live with a smoker

What type of people will receive my breast milk donations?

  • Babies who are born prematurely or are critically ill.
  • Mothers who have adopted babies.
  • Mothers who have had a mastectomy.
  • Mothers who have mastitis and need to resolve an infection before they can resume breastfeeding.
  • Mothers who have a legitimate lack of glandular tissue.
  • Mothers of multiples who do not produce enough milk supply for their babies.
  • Mothers who are receiving medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, that may be harmful to the infant.
  • Mothers who have a medical condition or chronic infection, such as HIV or hepatitis, that could be passed to the infant through breast milk.

How can I locate a breast milk bank?

If you are interested in donating your breast milk, the first step is to locate a milk bank in your state. All nonprofit milk banks in the U.S. and Canada are accredited by and operate under the safety guidelines of the  Human Milk Banking Association of North America. These guidelines have been established with the advisement of the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the blood and tissue industries. If there is no location in your state, some milk banks, like the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas will send an insulated cooler and cover the cost of shipping your donated milk.

To learn more about the process of breast milk donation, visit the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) website.

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.