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Donated Breast Milk Drop-Off Site

What is it?

Maine Medical Center is now a drop-off site for donated breast milk. This donated breast milk is stored in a freezer at MMC before being sent to the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE) where it is pasteurized and given to babies in fragile health throughout the New England area.

Why is this important?

Human milk has been proven to be the gold standard as the most nutritious and beneficial food for babies. It is especially important for preterm and critically ill infants. Research shows sick infants who receive breast milk have fewer days of antibiotics; have markedly lower rates of diarrhea, urinary tract infections, sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and even death. Hospital stays of these infants are significantly shorter as well. Breast milk – whether it’s mom’s own milk or donor milk – has been proven to fight infection and save the lives of Maine’s most fragile babies.

MMC is excited to be a part of this opportunity to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding, human milk, and donor milk. Many mothers of ill and premature infants are unable to provide enough milk for their babies. The gift of human milk can mean the difference between life and death for these infants. MMC is proud to make donating milk easier for mothers in the area.

Some hospitals buy donated breastmilk from milk banks to give to their sick baby patients, and some parents buy this milk directly from the milk bank.

Who is eligible?

Donor mothers are women who are currently lactating and have surplus milk.

Donor mothers must be:

  • In good general health.
  • A non-smoker.
  • Willing to undergo a blood test (at our expense).
  • Not regularly using medication or herbal supplements (with some exceptions - please contact us).
  • Willing to donate at least 150 ounces of milk.

A woman would not be a suitable donor if:

  • She has a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, hepatitis B or C, or syphilis.
  • She or her sexual partner are at risk for HIV.
  • She uses illegal drugs.
  • She smokes or uses tobacco products.
  • She has received an organ or tissue transplant or a blood transfusion in the last twelve months.
  • She regularly has more than two ounces or more of alcohol per day.
  • She has been in the United Kingdom for more than three months or in Europe for more than five years since 1980.

As part of the screening process mothers are also required to have their blood drawn and results sent to the MMBNE.

How can I donate my breast milk?

If a woman has extra breast milk she’d like to donate, she should contact the Mother’s Milk Bank of Northeast (MMBNE). MMBNE will guide donors through a multiple step process, which includes:

  • A phone health screen takes 10-15 minutes, it is modeled after blood donor screening.
  • We will email or mail you a donor packet with information for you about the becoming a donor and forms for you to fill out and send back to us. These can be sent by mail, email or fax.
  • We will fax your physician and your baby’s physician to assure that they do not have any concerns about your donating your milk.
  • When we have heard back from both physicians we will send you a blood kit, to have your blood drawn. We test for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C and syphilis, all diseases that can pass through human milk. While these are all killed by our pasteurizing, we cannot accept donor mothers who have these diseases.
  • Once we have received the blood test results, we will call you to arrange delivery of your milk.

Once MMBNE approves a mother to donate, she may then contact MMC’s Donated Breast Milk Drop Off Site (milkdepot@mmc.org) to make an appointment to bring her milk to MMC. Once the freezer fills up, MMC will safely ship the milk to MMBNE for pasteurization and distribution.

Collecting and storing your milk for donation

  • We cannot receive your milk until the donor screening is complete. However, if you are considering donating your milk, or if you are collecting milk for donation during the screening process, please use the following MMBNE’s guidelines for pumping and storing your milk:
  • If you or anyone in your household is not feeling well, please put an X on those milk containers and separate them from milk you will donate. The milk is fine to feed your own baby, but should not be used to feed the fragile premature babies the milk bank serves.
  • Before touching your pump or pump parts please wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. Actively lather your hands for a full 15 seconds, paying close attention to the area around and under your fingernails. Antimicrobial soap is not necessary. If using bar soap, please use a rack that allows the bar to dry between uses. Dry your hands with a disposable single-use towel. Use the towel to turn off the tap. There is no need to wash your breasts. Rewash your hands if you touch anything other than your pump or your breasts.
  • Express or pump your milk into a clean container, using clean pump parts. If you are interrupted, cap the milk and put it in the refrigerator. You may go back and finish pumping provided you will finish within 30 minutes of having started.
  • Please be sure NOT to touch the inside of the caps, bottles, Snappies or bags or the threadings of any bottles you may be using for storage.
  • Please do NOT fill the containers past the markings. Milk expands on freezing and too-full bottles and bags will split. If the bags split and leak upon thawing, we cannot use it for pasteurization.
  • Please do not use ordinary zipper bags for milk storage. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on milk storage container.
  • Label the milk with: YOUR NAME and DATE of collection. When you are assigned a donor number, please add that to the bags.
  • Use a new storage container each time you express your milk even if you have one that isn't full.
  • Place the milk in the rear bottom of your freezer where it is the coldest. Please freeze the milk immediately after expressing it.

For more specific information about becoming a donor mom, please call MMBNE at 617-527-6263 or email MMBNE.

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