Donating breast milk is a common occurrence, as uncommon of a topic it may be, and, for varying reasons, we have always had a need for it. From wet nurses in the Renaissance period, to the milk banks we have for NICU babies today, breast milk has always been a necessity that for some is in short supply, and others, excess.
Breast milk from a donor mother can have certain health risks (such as the transmission of certain diseases, chemical contaminants, etc), or may not meet the child’s specific nutritional needs. In light of these concerns, screenings are available to test for chemicals (such as illegal and prescription drugs that may be harmful to the baby), infectious diseases, and vitamin deficiencies. (In some states, there are required safety standards for milk banks- the FDA has not been involved in establishing these guidelines or state standards.). A good source of information for these milk banks is called the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).
It is a common opinion that the benefits of donor milk far outweigh the risks, as negative side effects have not really been formally documented, and the risks of formula feeding are (many times, this donor milk is going to a child who is severely ill, premature, or to a child who does not have a natural mother (due to voluntary absence, illness, or death) to provide the breast milk for them. Donor milk can be scarce, or costly due to the lack of supply of donor milk or just the lack of donors.
Many mothers may assume their milk supply is only sufficient for their child/ren. There are ways to increase your milk production or store milk to be donated, such as by the proper use of a breast pump. You can likely obtain a pump through your health insurance (per the Health Care Reform Act), and often at no cost to you. There are many sites to obtain these benefits, such as Aeroflow Breastpumps.
Aeroflow Healthcare Breastpumps can help you obtain a top-brand breast pump at no cost to you through your insurance. Simply complete our Qualify Through Insurance form and one of our Breastpump Specialists will verify your insurance and contact you within 3-5 business days to discuss your coverage and breast pump options.
Whether you are struggling to produce enough for your child or you are considering becoming a donor, there are several addition methods to stimulate or increase your milk production.
- Take herbs (such as Fenugreek, or nursing teas)
- Incorporate oatmeal into your diet
- Drink more water!
- Special lactation cookies
- Power pumping- “power pumping” is a practice in which mothers will pump off and on for an hour (10 minutes on, 10 off… most mothers prefer to pump “hands free”. Medela offers a hands free accessory set with the Freestyle pump, or you can purchase a pumping bustier ).
Whether you’re in need of donor milk, wanting to donate, or just searching for breast feeding information- you’re on the right track. Even the first bit of breast milk (as it contains colostrum) is vitally beneficial to the little one you love.