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Demand Increasing for Donated Breast Milk

3119942196_c8709f3962Cross-nursing may not yet (if ever) be a mainstream way to feed a baby, but according to USA Today, the demand for donated breast milk is on the rise.

While many moms aren’t necessarily comfortable letting another woman nurse their baby, breast milk from milk banks — where donations are tested and pasteurized — are much more popular.  And more women are also making informal arrangements where a nursing mother helps out a friend who’s struggling to breastfeed by sharing her milk.

Two thousand women donated breast milk to U.S. milk banks in 2008. Laraine Lockhart Borman, manager of Mothers’ Milk Bank at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s in Denver, told USA Today that most women make more than enough milk to donate — enough to feed twins or even triplets, even, so that number is likely to rise as the practice becomes more common.

Keely Shaw used of Arvada, Colorado, used donated milk to feed her two sons when she struggled with low supply. She told USA Today: “I think it must be similar to what people who receive donated blood must feel. This kind of gift is so personal and can be monumental for those who receive it.”

In 2008, there were 1.4 million ounces donated to milk banks across the country, but experts say demand reaches as high as nearly nine million ounces. If you’re interested in donating, here are the minimum requirements from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America website:

You’re in good general health.
You’re willing to submit to a free (to you) blood test.
You’re not taking regular medications. There are exceptions to this rule, so contact your local milk bank to find out if the medication you’re taking is acceptable.
You’re willing to donate at least 100 ounces of milk.

Have you ever donated breast milk or fed your baby donated milk?  Tell us how it works.

Photo: ilya, Flickr

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