Donating Breastmilk & Milk Banks

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello, my husband and I are expecting to adopt a child soon and wondering if anyone has experience with receiving milk from the Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose? I'm particularly interested in knowing how easy or difficult it was to get a prescription from a doctor for the milk, the openness of staff at the bank to an adoption scenario (I know they focus on NICU infants for the most part), and how did your child take to breast milk? Thanks!

    As someone who donated extra breast milk, I found them to be very hard to work with due to the number of requirements they had in place. I believe they give priority to preemie babies for donations as well and they don't have a lot of extra (probably because it's really hard to donate!). You should consider Facebook groups such as "human milk 4 human babies" and "bay area breastmilk cooperative". These are places where women with extra milk will donate to those in need for any reason. There is no official screening done, it's just an informal donation process, but as a donor I was willing to answer any and all questions, so if you are comfortable with it, it may be a good route to accumulate a supply before/after your child comes. I know many families who exclusively provided breast milk to their children through these channels. Good luck!

    I don't know much about the Milk Bank specifically but I want to recommend that you check out Human Milk 4 Human Babies as another option. I don't think you need a prescription for that, and it is (I don't have personal experience so this is just my understanding) more of a person 2 person sharing environment for breastmilk. I've heard that you can work with individual donors with respect to age of baby, medications and health of mother, etc...

    Also the Facebook group Bay Area Breastfeeding Support, which is run by lactation specialists and completely supportive of all different situations. I found that group very helpful and supportive and definitely saw questions from adoptive parents on there. That's where I learned about HM4HB above.

    You have to do the research ahead with the bank. Adoption does qualify but no one at the hospital knew this. They acted like they were educating me that it was for NICU babies. I let them have their say, we got discharged, and I educated my Kaiser pediatrician and got the RX right away. I didn't use it because of Eats on Feets and Human Milk for Human Babies as sources for milk sharing. If you are interested, you might join the Adoptive Facebook group for insight into supplemental systems and inducing lactation to enable nourishing at the breast. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions Related Pages

Milk bank's legitimacy?

July 2011

Recently, I responded to a BPN request from a milk bank in Sacramento that is seeking breast milk to provide nutrition for premature babies. Upon further research about this place, we discovered that it is a for-profit company that manufactures a product (Prolacta) by using human breast milk. I've never donated milk before, but have been interested in doing so and I want to make sure that I am donating to the right cause. Does anyone know anything about this ''Prolacta Bioscience''? Should I trust that this will in fact directly help premature infants who wouldn't otherwise receive this kind of gift or should I be skeptical of a for-profit company seeking volunteer milk? I guess it rubs me the wrong way to donate something my body produces to something that isn't a non-profit company, but maybe I am over-thinking this. If I shouldn't donate to them, who should I turn to? (It should be noted that I still produce milk because I still nurse my 3+ year old daughter. I passed initial screening with the aforementioned company that deemed my milk still okay even though my child is no longer an infant.) hoping to spread the wealth

This was from Kelly Mom's post on Facebook regarding Prolacta from a blogger - anon

Recently read an article in Wired Magazine that discussed this ''milk bank.'' Sounds like hospitals cannot ensure the quality/purity of donated breastmilk themselves so they contract the work out to private companies like Prolacta, who have started to turn it into a business -- anon

I'm in the East Bay and I donate my extra supply to the Mother's Milk Bank in San Jose, they are a non-profit organization who supply local NICUs.

You'll need to undergo their screening process: health questionnaire, blood draw and get the OK from your OB and your child's pediatrician, but it's a fairly quick and easy process. They will send a nurse to your home or office to do the blood draw. My Bra Cups Runneth Over

There is a national milk bank in San Jose, if you want to drive there. They give milk to the Bay Area's NICU's, at a cost of course, because all human fluids must be screened. This organization sounds as good as any other, since it sounds like they are doing the disease screening. Though, I would imagine that you should be reimbursed. That's part of any for-profit or non-profit business, in general. Just blood donation is volunteer donations, in the form run by the American Red Cross, and they spend a huge amount of money on advertising and finding donors for that, so there's still a huge expense for them. Anon

I do not know anything about this Sacramento agency but the San Jose Milk Bank is legitimate milk bank and it is run out of Valley Medical Center in San Jose. The screening process is a bit daunting but was worth it to me for those babies in need. Rita

If you want to understand the business of buying & selling human milk, see this story in Wired Magazine.

I can't help you with your specific question but the article may help you to understand what your options are and what you may or may not want to do with your extra milk. Melissa

Where to donate breastmilk?

May 2009

I've got about 40 ounces of frozen breastmilk left from a toddler I just stopped nursing. Mothers Milk Bank won't take less than 100 oz. Does anyone have a suggestion re: where else I might donate this liquid gold? Thanks!

Mothers Milk Bank said they'd take less than 100 oz from me, so it is possible. You still have a lot. The issue with any tissue bank is the cost of testing the donor for diseases, so high volume milk donation is more cost effective. Good luck! I know from working at The Sperm Bank of California right here in Berkeley that long term donation is the norm.

I suppose you might also have the option of offering to do HIV and other testing and giving it to someone you know with a baby who needs more mama milk. - The Sperm Bank of California former employee

Where can I donate my excess breastmilk?

April 2000

My 9.5 month old daughter never took a supplemental bottle, and now I have a freezer packed with breastmilk I expressed for her for emergencies which I now know she will never use. I have heard rumors from several sources that you can donate breastmilk (I THINK in order to feed preemies too young for formula?), but don't really have any idea who to donate to. I have tried to contact La Leche League about this, but haven't had any luck getting a return call from them so far. Does anybody know anything about this, and/or who I can contact for more information? I'd rather all 100+ ounces of this very healthy milk go to somebody who could use it rather than down the drain, if possible. Thanks for your help!

San Jose has a milk bank to which you might be able to give your leftovers. What a wonderful gift! Nori

Earlier this year, there was a plea for donated breast milk. Women wishing to donate milk may call the Mothers' Milk Bank at (408) 998-4550, or e-mail the bank at milkbank AT Check out S.F. Chronicle articles at: /MN71564.DTL There were also follow up articles discussing the positive response received. Alicia

The Mothers' Milk Bank would love your milk! They're at (408) 998-4550. They'll send you forms to fill out, including one to have your doctor sign saying that you're healthy (I think), and that your baby won't suffer from your donating the milk. Good for you (and congratulations on your ability to produce so much extra milk!). Laurel

Here is the link for the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. They have listings of all the milk banks on their site. The closest one to us, is in San Jose.
Mothers' Milk Bank c/o Professional Group PO Box 5730 San Jose, CA 85150 (408) 998-4550
Different Milk Banks have different rules. Some will not take milk from a mom who has a baby over 12 mos. Others will only take milk that you can guarantee was expressed when you had not been on any medicationat all (which might be hard with older frozen supply) even if it is something entirely safe like tylenol. Some banks will not take any milk at certain times because they are full. (Apparently in some areas very few drs will write the required prescription for breast milk, instead they put the baby on formula.) All banks are strict about who they will take donations from as far as testing for HIV and Hepititis go, but some will take the lab work done from your pregnancy, and others will make you do it all over again. From the moms that I know who have donated, San Jose seems to be one of he more flexible banks around.

If the milk bank will not take it, instead of dumping it down the drain you could:
- offer it to your child in a sippy cup
- use it to mix baby food and cereals
- and if it doesn't gross you out use it in cooking/baking as a substitue for cow's milk.
(I know a woman who used her left over stash to make pudding for her whole family.) Good luck.

Here is the most local source: Mothers' Milk Bank, San Jose, CA (408) 998-4550 I hope they take your precious milk and help a baby survive! Trish

From: Mikee (11/98)

You can donate through the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose. They require some medical information which will most likely require you to get a blood test. You can either get the test done by your regular dr., or they will do it for you, but only after you have donated 100 ounces of milk. They have pickup/dropoff locations throughout the Bay Area, or they will come to your house to pick up the milk, and they provide you with sterile bottles to fill if you want. Their number is: 408/998-4550.