Is Donor Breast Milk Safe?
As a breast milk donor myself, this is a question I get a lot. I also get a lot of haters who say they would refuse to give their child milk from another person. Some say it is gross, disgusting, weird and unnatural.
What would you do if you had the chance to accept donor breast milk for your baby? It is something many people do not understand until they are in a position where their baby relies on donor breast milk to survive.
Many people question whether donor breast milk is safe to feed their baby. What if the donor has diseases, is a drug user, or the milk is not safely stored? How can you ensure that donor breast milk is safe?
The availability of donor breast milk through a milk bank is probably the safest choice, as milk banks thoroughly screen their donors. The screening process may include blood tests, DNA sampling, drug testing, physician approval, health screening, pediatrician approval, etc.
Most of the time, a mother would not go through this lengthy process if they were a drug user or had a disease that they could pass to others through their breast milk.
Testing, Pasteurization & Fortification
Another important step in the milk donation process is to test, pasteurize and fortify the milk, depending on the needs of the infants they serve. For example, the milk bank I donate to provides donor breast milk to fragile infants in the nicu.
Since breast milk may naturally have trace amounts of bacteria, the pasteurization process is very important to the health of these fragile infants. Their premature immune systems may not be able to handle bacteria like a full-term healthy baby can.
This is the same reason why donor breast milk is fortified to fit the needs of such infants. Sometimes they need the extra calories or particular vitamins to grow and thrive. To learn more about this amazing production process, visit Prolacta’s website.
Breast Milk Donation Groups
Many families will use Facebook groups for donating or requesting donor breast milk. Although there is no middleman such as a milk bank in these groups, they remain quite reputable.
I always ask myself, why would someone who is positive for harmful diseases or someone who is on drugs freely give away their extra breast milk? When you think about the amount of time and commitment that goes into pumping, storing breast milk, cleaning pump parts and managing an oversupply, it takes a very selfless person to be committed to doing this.
These groups are also great for those who have full-term, otherwise healthy babies who are perhaps allergic to formula. They may benefit from unpasteurized breast milk in its natural form that preemies may not otherwise be able to digest.
Is donor breast milk safe? In my experience as a breast milk donor since 2016, it is generally safe. I have donated over 20,000 ounces to a milk bank and a handful of families in need. If my breastmilk wasn’t safe, I wouldn’t be feeding it to my own child and then also taking the time to pump and store my extra breast milk for others. Makes sense right?