Surrogate Milk Donations Help Babies Without Access to Parent’s Milk
This post was written by Raechel Hackney of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast in partnership with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation. Circle Surrogacy serves surrogates, egg donors, and intended parents across the globe from its surrogacy agency offices in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and NYC. This post was originally written in 2020; content has been updated in 2023.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast was founded in 2006 with a mission to provide lifesaving donor human milk to help premature and fragile babies get the best start in life. Thanks to our generous donors, we are able to provide milk not only to preemies but also to full-term babies who do not have access to a parent’s milk. We are one of 30 nonprofit milk banks accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA).
“I loved giving even more to someone who needed it, and it saved lives. Feeling even more special about how much I made empowered me to confidently love my body even more. The healing from pumping was a huge bonus.” – A surrogate and milk donor
Can I give my breast milk to another baby?
Our donors are surrogates, first-time mothers, repeat donors, and those who donate after a loss—all of whom are acting out of generosity and kindness to help another family’s baby.
As a surrogate, you have already shown a profound willingness to help other families. We are grateful for your willingness to learn more about becoming a volunteer milk donor.
The health screening process to become a milk donor may be similar to the process you have already gone through to become a gestational surrogate; the goal is to ensure that donors are healthy and appropriate candidates.
Step 1: Quick Telephone Interview
The screening starts with a 15- to 20-minute telephone interview to gather information about your health, medications, illnesses, or risk factors that may disqualify you as a donor. It also allows you the opportunity to ask questions.
Step 2: Complete Forms
The second step is written forms that include a consent, a more detailed health history, and a medical release form so that we may contact your obstetrician or midwife with a short checklist to ensure that you would be a suitable donor.
Step 3: Blood Test
The last step is a blood test, paid for by the milk bank. Even though you may have had blood tests to qualify as a surrogate mother, our tests must be done within 30 days of the first donation. In addition, some of our tests are specific to tissue donors and not done as part of routine clinical diagnosis.
Do milk donors get paid?
Though HMBANA guidelines do not allow compensation for milk donated to nonprofit milk banks, there is never any cost to the milk donor.
Where and how long can I donate milk for?
Although we are located in Newton, MA, you do not need to live near the milk bank to donate your milk. The milk bank has 28 drop-off sites (milk depots) in seven different states.
For donors who do not live near a depot, we provide shipping boxes, a prepaid FedEx return label, and a number to call to set up a pickup from your home. Donors in Greater Boston may even arrange for motorcycle delivery by one of our volunteer Bikers for Babies! (Whether you’re shipping breast milk to intended parents or donating it, Circle offers some helpful breast milk storage and shipping tips in a related blog post.)
We ask for a minimum of 150 ounces during the time you are a milk donor. You may consider a one-time donation or continue to pump milk for ongoing donations.
Spread the Word
If milk donation is not the right choice for you at this time, your help in spreading the word to other potential donors is an important way to ensure that there is an adequate supply of donor milk to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community.
Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast a nonprofit community milk bank accredited by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA), provides pasteurized donor human milk to babies in fragile health throughout the Northeastern United States. To learn more about Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast you can visit their website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram for updates!