Did you build up a stash of breast milk and now have more than you can use? You might be able to help another family! Keep reading to learn how to donate breast milk in your area!
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What To Do With All That Extra Breast Milk?
I started pumping at about four weeks postpartum to build my freezer “stash.” It became almost an obsession to squeeze out those last few drops after each nursing session, or to fit in a pump during my baby’s longest sleep stretch.
Little by little, I filled up our freezer with carefully measured and dated storage bags. Even as my stockpile grew, I still fretted that it wouldn’t be enough in case of “emergency.” So I pumped and pumped.
When my daughter was six months old, I left my full-time job to be a stay at home mom. We really had no need anymore for expressed milk other than the occasional dinner out, but still I pumped “just in case.”
However, the baby had ideas of her own. She decided that bottles were lame and she wasn’t going to use them. Ever. At all. Again.
Finally I decided that it was pointless to continue pumping at all and gave myself a break. I packed up my special bag and bottles for the last time, and I can’t say that I was very sad about it! (I might have done a little happy dance…) But now what to do with all that milk just sitting in our freezer??
I have maybe 150 ounces give or take — not a ton (I wasn’t a crazy overproducer), but definitely enough that I don’t want to see it go to waste. So I started to do a little research to see what the options are. Where can you donate breast milk? Or can you sell it?
Here’s what I found…
Where Can I Donate Breast Milk?
The following are four of the most legitimate ways to donate breast milk. Some have screening processes, some take a more DIY approach.
1. Donate to a Local Hospital
Hospitals are always in need of donor milk for premature babies in the NICU. Mothers of preemies often struggle more to produce milk, whether it be due to the early birth, stress from the situation, or separation from their baby.
Breast milk has been shown to drastically reduce the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (source), a condition that is more common (and life-threatening) in preemies.
Donating to a hospital usually requires a little work on your end: a thorough screening process and blood test, but you can rest assured that your milk will truly be helping babies in need.
2. Find a Local Milk Bank
Reputable milk banks follow standards set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). The donation process is similar to that of a hospital, as many hospitals use milk banks as their source(s).
This way, you can be sure that your donated milk will be going to babies that really need it. Find a milk bank in your area by visiting the HMBANA website.
3. Help a Friend or Neighbor
A very close friend of mine was a major overproducer while she was nursing her daughter and very quickly accumulated a large excess of pumped milk.
It turns out that a co-worker was struggling to breastfeed her own child, so my friend gave much of her extra milk to her co-worker so she could supplement with real breast milk instead of formula.
Obviously, not everyone will have a situation like this, but what a great feeling to actually help someone you know!
4. Donate Online to a Milk Sharing Website
There are online forums that offer a place for parents looking to donate extra breast milk to connect with those searching for it.
From what I can tell, the intentions are good, though there is no way to 100% guarantee that your milk is actually going to a baby (as opposed to being used for other purposes or resold for profit).
This may be an easier way to donate, as there is no screening process, blood tests, etc.– but again, no guarantees. These forums merely serve as a way to connect.
Can You Sell Breast Milk?
Online breast milk classifieds have popped up as a way for mothers with extra milk to sell to those who are looking to buy. One such example is onlythebreast.com — though I have not personally used this platform.
How it works: you set the price (usually from $1-$5 per ounce) and potential buyers contact you. However, it seemed that there were WAY more people looking to sell than buy, so I’m not sure how viable this option really is.
Again, there is no 100% guarantee that your milk will actually be going to a baby in need.
We’ve all seen articles telling moms to “make extra cash selling liquid gold,” but the jury is out on whether or not this is a legitimate or realistic option.
If you don’t personally know someone in need, the best bet is probably to contact your local hospital or milk bank. The screening and tests are done at no cost to you– all that is required is your time and willingness to get pricked to draw blood.
Have any of you donated breast milk before? Where and how did you do so and what advice do you have for other moms looking to make good use of their “stash?”
More Breastfeeding Resources
- How to Find Free Breastfeeding Resources
- 11 Ways to Increase Milk Supply
- Must-Have Breastfeeding Accessories for New Moms
- How to Get a Breastfed Baby to Take a Bottle
- What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Breastfeeding
- 5 Ways to Bond with Your Baby While Breastfeeding
- Weaning a Toddler
- Everything You Need to Know About Pumping at Work
- The Startling Breastfeeding Statistic You Need to Know
Originally published May 7, 2015; Updated September 8, 2020
**Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional– this is post reflects my own research and opinions on the subject of breast milk donation. Always do your own research and/or consult your physician first.