Becoming a Breastmilk Donor :: Help the NICU

I have spent 3 years and 7 months (and counting) of my life breastfeeding. With the first, I was working full time and I pumped like it was my actual job, filling up that deep freezer. Pumping with my second child proved to be more challenging as my pump required me to sit near an outlet, and my oldest still wanted to play. Fast forward to baby 3, who subsequently found himself in the NICU and required me to pump. In desperation and in need of a quick solution, I ordered a wearable (and affordable) breast pump from amazon and it was a game changer in terms of pumping, staying productive and available for my kids. I had an alarm for every 3 hours reminding me to pump into the 2 ounce bottles the NICU gave me.

Being in the NICU, gave me a greater appreciation for all that goes into taking care of these babies. While I was able to provide my own breastmilk for my baby, I realized I had lots of milk to spare for other babies as well. I always knew Ochsner Lafayette General was a drop off site for breastmilk donations, but never went through the process until now.

Step 1:

Fill out the interest form on the Mother’s Milk Bank (MMB) website. You will receive an email stating the New Orleans office is the Louisiana main office and they will either contact you, or you can call them at 504-703-6455.

Step 2:

Complete the phone interview by answering some basic questions such as are you taking any medication, where and how do you store your breastmilk, when was your baby born, and general health questions.

Step 3:

Fill out the donor packet that will be sent via email after the phone interview. This goes into greater depth regarding your health, sign a form stating you agree to notify the MMB of any health changes, and comply with proper storage, and HIPPA form so they can contact your OB.

Step 4:

Once they have reviewed your packet and gotten any information needed from the OB, they will contact you via email to complete your lab work done through LabCorp (costs covered by MMB). This is the last step before getting approval to donate.

Step 5:

Donate your milk once you get your approval! You’ll get your own donor ID number to include in your donation drop off bag.

My Personal Frequently Asked Questions:

Does the MMB provide storage containers? 

Yes, you can either pick some up from Ochsner Lafayette General if they have extra available or request to have some shipped to you from the New Orleans location. However, you can also pump into any breastmilk storage bags available in stores. When we were discharged from the NICU, I continued to pump on a less rigorous schedule, still bagging 12 or more ounces a day. I use a variety of storage bags found in stores (Lansinoh, Up&Up, Nuk, Parent Choice), and filled to the 6 ounce line.

Can I donate breastmilk I pumped prior to getting approval and my donor ID?

Yes! So long as proper storage was followed and dates are filled out. MMB will accept milk that has been in a deep freezer for up to 9 months after being pumped, and will only accept milk pumped from a mother with an infant 10 months and younger. This is due to the compositional make up of the milk changing as the baby gets older. In fact, the process of being approved may take a few weeks, during which time (hopefully) your freezer is filling up! But if you find your freezer filled with milk and a weaning infant, don’t let your milk expire! Your milk may still be able to be donated!

Why does the application ask if I’ve pumped 100 ounces of milk?

You are required to donate a minimum of 100 ounces of breastmilk due to the costs associated with bloodwork during the approval process and the process of pasteurizing your milk prior to shipping to the hospitals. You can also ship your breastmilk to New Orleans directly but will then require a 200 ounce minimum to donating.

Do you have any questions about becoming a breastmilk donor?

Emily is a dual citizen, residing in Lafayette, Louisiana, yet a temporary visitor in her other residency of Germany. She is a wife of four years and full time working mother to two kids: a 2.5 year old girl (C) and 5 month old boy (H). Having graduated from LSU with her bachelors, she continued her education by getting her Masters in Business Administration from UL. Working in management in retail, her schedule frequently varies and consists of unusual hours, but she embraces that as extra time with her children. While off the clock, Emily pours herself a cup of decaf coffee, plays in a room filled with toddler toys, teaches her children German, and attempts to be a scrunchy Montessori inspired mama with goals of raising independent children.

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