A Short Guide for Surrogates: Shipping Breast Milk

We answer your questions about shipping breast milk

Whether a surrogate is interested in shipping breast milk is first discussed during the surrogate consultation stage of the process. If a surrogate knows that pumping and shipping breast milk is not something that she is interested in doing, she will be matched with intended parents who have aligned views. The decision to pump and ship breast milk to your intended parents after birth and how the process will work is one that’s made jointly during the matching process. Surrogates are not required to pump and ship breast milk, however many like to do so. Fun fact, surrogates receive compensation for pumping and shipping blog post! 

Pumping and shipping breast milk is not difficult at all! This short guide will inform you how to ship breast milk properly so that it arrives frozen, whether you’re a surrogate mother in Boston, Massachusetts, shipping to New York or a surrogate mother in the San Francisco Bay Area shipping breast milk to Florida!

Surrogate Breast Milk Shipping Guide

Items you’ll need for each shipment of breast milk*:

  • Milk storage bags
  • Styrofoam cooler
  • Newspaper
  • Packing tape
  • Shipping box (large enough to fit your cooler)
  • Dry ice

* The average cost to ship breast milk is $400-$500 per shipment, these costs are covered by your intended parents.

How to ship breast milk:

  1. Place all of your pumped milk into the freezer in breast milk storage bags. Storing it between cookie sheets enables it to freeze flat, making packing easier. When filling the bags with milk, be sure to leave some room for the milk to expand as it freezes (about 6 oz per bag).
  2. Once the milk is frozen, layer frozen bags of milk in a single layer in the bottom of the cooler.
  3. Continue layering the frozen bags of milk, packing the cooler as tightly as possible. the less empty space, the colder the milk will stay.
  4. Be sure to leave room in the cooler for the dry ice. In a 22 quart cooler, you can place about 26-34 bags of milk. When all of the milk is packed, cover the breast milk with a newspaper.
  5. Place dry ice in a paper bag and place it on top of a newspaper. Cover dry ice with another layer of paper. Be careful with dry ice, it should be enclosed at all times and not loose in the cooler.
  6. Place the entire cooler into a shipping box. For a 22-qt. cooler, a 16″x16″x15″ box works well.
  7. Tape box shut. Write ‘PERISHABLE’ or ‘FROZEN’ on all 4 sides as well as the top of the box. Call your shipping facility prior to arriving to ship your package to understand their guidelines for shipping packages with dry ice.
  8. Ship the box via UPS or FedEx. You’ll have to provide your IP’s shipping information. Ship the package using PRIORITY OVERNIGHT to ensure your IPs receive it the following afternoon.

That’s it, that is how to ship breast milk!

If you have excess milk and would like to donate it to other babies without access to a parent’s milk, read our related blog post about surrogate milk donations.

Do you have other questions about the surrogacy process or shipping breast milk? Check out our Surrogate FAQ page where we answer our most astked questions from surrogates! You can learn more about becoming a surrogate with Circle or start your application now.