Frequently Asked Questions

Why donate to a nonprofit milk bank?

The only beneficiaries of human milk donated to a nonprofit milk bank are the babies. The Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank (MWMMB) is a nonprofit organization, not a forprofit company. MWMMB is also a member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) and complies with its strict guidelines for the establishment and operation of a donor human milk bank. The guidelines meet all national health requirements.


If the bank is nonprofit, why is there a charge for the milk?

The cost is not for the actual milk because it is donated voluntarily by mothers who receive no reimbursement. The only charges associated with the milk are to cover processing and shipping fees. The cost is approximately $3.50 - $5.00 per ounce. No newborn with medical need is denied donated milk, regardless of ability to pay. 


Who receives the donated milk?

Any baby who needs donor human milk will receive it based on availability, regardless of ability to pay. However, a prescription from a health care provider is necessary. About 85% of the donated human milk in the US is given to NICU units. This provides optimal nutrition and protection from disease for the most fragile, sick babies when mothers are not able to provide their own milk. The donated human milk helps support the medical recommendation that newborns be fed human milk exclusively. The Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank provides pasteurized, donated human milk to NICU units throughout Utah and Idaho.


What are the most common conditions for which donated milk is needed?

The most common conditions include:

  • Prematurity

  • Allergies

  • Immunologic deficiencies

  • Feeding/Formula intolerance

  • Post -surgical nutrition/protection

  • Inborn errors of metabolism

  • Infectious diseases

  • Moms who are unable to supply milk for their own babies


Is there enough donated milk to supply the needs?

Unfortunately, the demand for donated human milk exceeds the amount donated. The need for donated human milk is rising, and more NICUs are using donated human milk as the second best option for feeding their infants: the mother’s own milk is ALWAYS the first and best choice.


How much does it cost to donate? 

The cost of blood screening and shipping is covered by the milk bank. It does cost time to get the medical forms signed, have blood drawn, pump and store the milk, and then drop it off at a donation location.


Mountain West Mothers’ Milk Bank has donor collection sites across the state, in neighboring states, and is expanding with more collection sites for donors to drop off their donor milk. Donors will need to have a cooler, with adequate ice or cooler brick packs to transport their frozen milk to the donor collection site.  


Where can I get breastfeeding information and support?

For information about breastfeeding contact La Leche League at


For those participants on the Women Infant and Child Program (WIC) contact your local WIC clinic Dietitian or Peer Counselor or visit:


Find a local International Board Certified Lactation Consultant at


What are donor qualifications?

Donor mothers must:

  • Be healthy

  • Be able to donate about 150 fl. oz. of milk that is pumped before her baby is one year old

  • Not be taking any medications or herbs on a consistent basis.

    • Exceptions include vitamins, insulin, thyroid replacement hormone, nasal sprays, asthma inhalers, topical treatments, eye drops, and progestin-only or low-dose estrogen birth control. Some anti-depressants are also acceptable.

  • Undergo blood testing, at the milk bank’s expense

  • Fill out medical authorization forms with doctor’s signature

  • Supply enough milk for mom’s own baby and the bank


What would disqualify a donor?

A woman would be an unsuitable donor if she:

  • Smokes cigarettes

  • Takes illicit drugs

  • Drinks more than 2 oz. hard liquor per day

  • Has received a blood transfusion, blood products, or had a tissue transplant within the last 12 months

  • Had hepatitis after age 11

  • Has a lifestyle at risk for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis or HTLV

  • Lived in Europe for more than 5 years (1980 to present)


Is pasteurized donated human milk safe? 

Yes. Potential donors undergo screening very similar to that required by blood banks.  Guidelines followed are those set up by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Donors must be healthy, lactating mothers whose own babies are <1 year of age. Mothers will undergo a thorough evaluation of their medical history, lifestyle, and use of medications or herbs. Blood work is done to test for HIV, HTLV, hepatitis B and C, and syphilis. All milk is tested before and after pasteurization for any contaminating organisms.


Each pasteurization team member thoroughly scrubs their hands with antimicrobial soap before putting on gloves; gloves are always used when handling milk as part of the pasteurization process.


All donor human milk comes frozen, labeled, and dated. Milk is pooled (usually from 3-5 donors) and is tested for bacterial counts. Human milk is then heated gently in a shaking water bath using the Holder Method of pasteurization. The human milk is then tested again to make sure the treatment was effective.  It is then cooled rapidly, frozen and stored for distribution. 


Human milk dispensed by courier or picked up at the bank is packed in sealed bags in ice chests and never leaves the possession of the courier. It is signed out of the bank and signed into the receiving facility by the courier. 



For questions on how to become a milk donor call us toll free at 1.877.367.9091


© 2018 Mountain West Mothers Milk Bank

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