Frequently Asked Questions for donors

Can any breast feeding mother be a donor?

All potential donors are required to complete an online donor registration application and attend an appointment to complete a questionnaire and undertake a blood test. The blood test will need to be repeated every three months while donating. This screening process is similar to that of blood donors and the tests are additional to the ones already undergone prior to giving birth to your baby. The PREM Milk Bank needs to know you are in good health and by asking you questions about your medical history and lifestyle.

The PREM Milk Bank will be unable to accept your milk if you:

  • smoke
  • use illegal drugs or other prohibited substances
  • routinely consume more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day
  • routinely consume three cups of coffee, tea, or other caffeine stimulant drinks per day (including cola and stimulant soft drinks)
  • have lived in or travelled to the UK between 1980 and 1996 for a total or cumulative period of 6 months
  • have tested positive for HIV, Hepatitis Virus, or cancer.

If you have a medical condition or routinely take medications including herbal remedies, you may be eligible to donate once discussed with our medical director.

Although your milk is perfect for your own child, extra care needs to be taken when distributing donor milk to sick or premature infants. Although some diseases or infections are eliminated during the pasteurisation process, blood tests for potential donor mothers are a necessity. We have an information sheet to inform you about these tests. There is no charge for this service.

All personal information and test results obtained by the PREM Milk Bank are held in strict confidence.

How much milk do you expect from donors?

If you become a regular donor to the PREM Milk Bank, the milk collected varies from woman to woman and week to week. You donate what you can and every drop is valuable. Small and sick premature infants benefit from the tiniest amount often starting on about 6mls per day.

It is a good idea to establish breast feeding before you begin to express for the PREM Milk Bank. Most donors start 2-4 weeks after the birth of their baby and continue in an ongoing capacity as long as they are comfortable.

The PREM Milk Bank is generally seeking lactating mothers with an oversupply producing more milk than baby needs and expressing on a daily basis to manage this.

We do not accept new donor mothers who:

  • are using supplemental formula feeds
  • have commenced transitional solids
  • are administering medication to increase breast milk supply
  • are still breast feeding their babies after twelve months of age.

It is also helpful to establish a regular routine such as expressing at the same time each day as it is much more difficult to maintain a supply of milk if you only express occasionally. Some donors prefer expressing in the morning, others find it easiest to express from one breast whilst their baby is feeding from the other.

Over time, your body adjusts the amount of milk you produce to meet the changing needs of your baby. It will also respond in the same way if you express regularly. If you are worried that your own child may not be getting enough, express after your baby has fed. The law of supply and demand will ensure that you are producing enough milk for your baby.

Milk donors like all breast feeding mothers benefit from a healthy diet and plenty of rest. 

If you have an extra surplus of stored milk that you do not need for your baby, a one-off donation of this milk can be accepted. We ask that this milk has been stored in the coldest part of the freezer, in sterilised receptacles other than breastmilk freezer bags, is no more than three months old and greater than 4 litres in volume.

Why can't some mothers of preterm babies provide milk for their own babies?

Because these babies are born early, their mother may have trouble initiating lactation, especially if they have been ill during pregnancy. Premature babies often require treatments that prevent the normal breast feeding pattern and their mother's milk supply may decline for this reason.

Are mothers paid for their donation?

No. We recognise that donating breast milk is an extremely generous gift and in turn to ensure that it is safely supplied free of charge to hospitalised infants in need.

May I drink alcohol?

The PREM Milk Bank recommends not expressing for 12 hours following the consumption of alcohol for milk donation. No more than two standard drinks are recommended at any one time.

What if I am ill or a member of my family is ill?

Please let the milk bank know if you are unwell with any symptoms that you feel are more than the common cold. Most minor illnesses will not affect your milk. However if you are feeling unwell you may want to stop donating for a while, until you feel better.

What if I have taken any medications?

Breast milk is only suitable for milk bank donation if you have taken no medications or herbal preparations in the 48 hours before expressing. If you wish to express anyway and keep the milk for your own baby, it is important to label that milk with the medication or remedy you have used. Staff will ask you to declare all medications, remedies and herbal preparations at your appointment and often during the process of donation. We are available for any questions you may have regarding this during office hours.

What if I have vaccinations whilst a milk donor?

Please inform the PREM Milk Bank if you are about to have, or have recently had any vaccinations including rubella. 

Are all of my details obtained by PREM Milk Bank confidential?

The PREM Milk Bank is required by law to maintain the confidentiality of donor information, questionnaire and blood testing. As a milk bank donor you are given a specific donor number as identification for milk bank purposes.

Will I be able to meet the babies who are receiving my milk?

Individual donors do not meet the specific babies, mothers or families who receive their milk. This is part of the PREM Milk Bank policy. 

What equipment do I need and how do I store my expressed breast milk?

The PREM Milk Bank provides you with an expressing kit, sterilised collection bottles, labels and steam sterilising bags. A limited number of electric breast pumps are available for loan during the donation process. The PREM Milk Bank uses specific hospital grade electrical breast pumps.

Information about storing of your breast milk is available in the PREM Milk Bank Donor Information Kit Package, which is given to you to take home. Alternatively you will find this information under PREM Milk Bank information for donors (2).

Can I use my own breast pump to donate milk?

Manual and electric pumps for home use can continue to be used whilst you are donating to the PREM Milk Bank. Staff will discuss this further at your appointment.

What arrangements will be made to get the milk to the milk bank?

There is no transport system in place therefore the PREM Milk Bank asks that you deliver your milk perhaps every 3-6 weeks. When you have filled most of the collection bottles at home, we ask that you phone the staff at the PREM Milk Bank to organise a convenient time for delivery of your milk and to collect a new supply of bottles. This is done during office hours Monday to Friday 7.30am to 3.00pm.

Please use an insulated esky or bag with ice packs to ensure it is frozen during transit.

If you are interested in becoming a donor and willing to participate in the screening process please take our online preliminary Donor Screening Assessment (2b). If you do not register or complete the assessment, no information is stored. If you register, all information is kept in the strictest confidence.