Milk Donor FAQs

Is there a great need for milk donors?

Yes! Nationwide, infants’ medical need for Donor Human Milk far surpasses the supply and continues to increase. The national premature birth rate is 12% and growing. Increasing preterm birth rates mean an increased need for donor milk in the neonatal intensive care units. Preterm infants are most in need of human milk, yet their moms are the least likely to be able to provide what they need in the earliest days of life. Mothers who have surplus milk can help fill this need and give fragile infants a better chance to grow and thrive.

Who donates milk?

Milk Bank donors are healthy, conscientious women who care about others. They are most often nursing their own babies, have an abundant milk supply, and donate their surplus milk to the Milk Bank. Women who donate their milk often say they receive deep personal satisfaction from knowing they have helped improve the health of other babies.

Do milk donors follow special rules or guidelines?

Yes. All donors receive instruction in the collection and handling of their milk, including hand washing, and sterilization of breast pumps and equipment. The Milk Bank does not regulate a donor’s diet, but donors cannot take most medications or herbs. Donors inform the Milk Bank if they become ill or have any change in their health status, to determine whether and when they can continue to donate.

Are milk donors paid?

No. Milk donors are volunteers who donate to help save fragile infants. It is your voluntary contribution to the health of the next generation.

Is donating your milk a tax-deductible donation?

No. The IRS does not allow a deduction for donating any kind of human tissue. However, you can deduct mileage you incur in your volunteer efforts as well as the cost of your breast pump.

Who receives donor milk?

Lifesaving donated milk goes to babies all over the United States, providing them with a safe alternative when mom’s own milk is not available. The majority of milk bank recipients are hospitalized preterm or sick babies who benefit from the optimal nutrition, easy digestibility, and infection-fighting components of human milk. We also serve needy babies who are at home and have a doctor’s prescription for donor milk.

How much milk is needed to feed a preemie for one day?

  • A baby weighing 2 pounds takes up to 5.5 ounces of milk
  • A baby weighing 4.5 pounds takes up to 12 ounces of milk
  • A baby weighing 6.5 pounds takes up to 18 ounces of milk

How does pasteurization affect donated milk?

All donor milk is pasteurized in order to eliminate bacteria or other infecting organisms that may have been present. A small percentage of nutritional and immunological properties are destroyed by pasteurization, but pasteurized milk retains many of its most beneficial qualities. It contains many special properties that cannot be duplicated by commercial milk formulas.

Is donor milk safe from the AIDS virus?

Milk donors represent a very low risk for the AIDS virus. In addition, these mothers have been screened in a multi-step process, and no woman is accepted as a milk donor unless she has no known risk factors for AIDS and has also tested negative for the virus. As an extra precaution, all milk is pasteurized (which kills the AIDS virus). These procedures adhere to the standards of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

How do I become a milk donor?

If you haven’t already, check out our Potential Donors page to see if you may qualify.

Call us at 617.527.6263 ext. 3 or email us at