Milk Banking Frequently Asked Questions Why should I donate? If you have excess breast milk, it can be processed into specialty formulations and sold to hospitals to help meet the nutritional needs of critically ill, premature infants in neonatal intensive care units. Many moms donate their excess breast milk to help babies in need because they have had a preterm baby in the past or know someone who has had that experience. Breast milk donors report a sense of satisfaction knowing they are providing their milk to help sick, premature infants. The first and most important thing is to make sure that breast feeding your infant is established before you decide to donate any excess milk. We only want your excess breast milk after your baby is fully fed. You can donate excess newly expressed milk or previously collected frozen milk up to 10 months from date of expression as long as it is clearly marked with the month, day and year of expression. You can expect the entire donation qualification process to take about 2 - 6 weeks. You will receive step-by-step information as you progress through the qualification process so you know exactly where you are in the process and what to expect next. Is Prolacta a for-profit company? Yes, Prolacta Bioscience is a for-profit company that makes the only human milk-based human milk fortifier available for fragile premature babies. We have invested over 40 million dollars in research, clinical studies and facilities to develop and test our human milk derived products. This world class research and development would not have been possible in a non-profit business model. Does Prolacta sell products to the hospital? Yes, Prolacta sells its human milk fortifier and other human milk nutritional products to hospitals for use in their Neonatal Intensive Care Units. Due to the rarity and the severity of illness for these fragile babies, nutritional products such as these can be covered by insurance. Prolacta Bioscience produces human milk fortifier. Prolact+ H2MF is the first and only human milk fortifier made from 100% human breast milk (as opposed to cow's milk). Prolact+ H2MF is intended for critically ill and premature infants in the NICU. Prolacta also makes the only standardized human donor milk product, as well as other human milk nutritional products, to help meet the nutritional needs of very low birth weight babies, allowing them to have the full benefits of a 100% human milk diet. Although your donated milk forms the precious raw material needed by these infants, extensive testing, formulation and processing must be done so that doctors can feel confident that the human milk formulations they give their patients are as safe as possible. In order to provide this processing and formulation, millions of dollars were invested in processing equipment and testing. Much like the blood banking industry, the blood is donated by individuals, tested, processed and sold by blood processors. How do I know if I am a candidate to donate milk? Almost any nursing mother can donate. If you are healthy with a good medical history, you are a likely candidate. You will need to complete a medical survey, get medical confirmation from your doctor and your baby's pediatrician, have your blood tested for diseases and give a cheek cell sample, all at no cost to you. You will be informed of any test results that would indicate a health problem so that you can follow up with your doctor. If all of your results are fine, you can begin to donate breast milk. Will I have enough milk for my baby if I donate? The milk bank only wants excess milk. Make sure that your own baby's needs are met before donating milk. That being said, your body makes milk on a supply and demand basis and adjusts to the amount of milk needed. If you are worried about your baby getting enough milk, you can express an hour or so after feeding your baby. If your baby's doctor is happy with your baby's weight gain, there is no need to worry about having enough milk. Can I donate milk that I pumped, collected, and froze prior to being qualified as a donor? After you become a qualified milk donor, you can donate previously-collected milk as long as it was expressed within the last 10 months and the following conditions are met: It was pumped under the same conditions (ie, milk bank-approved medical conditions) as when you became qualified. It was frozen immediately after pumping and stored in clear, sealed bags or plastic bottles designed to store human milk (eg, Lansinoh breast milk storage bags). We cannot accept milk that was stored in reused food containers (eg, old dairy milk cartons, juice bottles, or glass containers). Must have been continuously frozen. The milk must never have been thawed and refrozen. Ideally, each container should include only one pumping. Pump parts must have been thoroughly cleaned after each pumping. Each bag of milk must be dated with the month, day, and year the milk was expressed. If no expression date is on your bags, we will use your baby’s date of birth to determine the expiration date. The milk must be received no later than 10 months after the date of expression (or baby’s date of birth). When can I start expressing milk for the milk bank? You should establish breastfeeding for your own baby before you begin donating. We recommend you wait three to four weeks after your baby's birth to begin the application process to become a breast milk donor and then only do so if your baby is doing well and gaining weight. What equipment will I need as a breast milk donor? After you qualify as a milk donor, the milk bank will provide you with breast milk storage bags for storing your expressed milk. You will need to obtain your own breast pump to express your milk for donation. Prolacta also recommends the purchase and use of an electric breast milk bottle sterilizer, such as the Baby Brezza sterilizer. How should I prepare to express my milk? Wash your breasts before each expression. Make sure your pump and parts are clean and dry. (See question 10 for pump cleaning instructions.) Carefully and thoroughly wash your hands with hot soapy water. Handle your pump and collection containers only after you have washed your hands. Collect breast milk into a dry, clean container. How do I clean pump parts while pumping for donation? After each use of your pump, wash the pump parts with hot soapy water and use a nipple brush to clean small areas. Rinse and dry all parts thoroughly. A minimum of once per day, sanitize pump parts in boiling water (a rolling boil) for 10 minutes, or use a sanitizer such as the Baby Brezza sterilizer. Parts should be completely dried after being cleaned. Regular replacement of pump parts that come into contact with breast milk is also recommended. How should I store the milk prior to shipping? Ideally, each pumping should be placed in a separate container and frozen immediately. However, if the freezer is unavailable at the time, the milk may be refrigerated for up to 12 hours before transferring to the qualified freezer. What if I have taken medications? Check with your milk bank about any medications you are taking, including over-the-counter remedies (those you can buy without a prescription from your doctor). The milk bank will tell you whether you qualify to donate while taking your medications. What if I am ill? Please contact the milk bank whenever you are feeling ill or if anyone in the family is ill. Can I drink alcohol while donating? Your milk bank will accept milk from donors consuming up to two units of alcohol per day (a unit is equal to one glass of wine, one beer or one shot of liquor). What do I do if I go out of town? Expressing when you are away from home can help you maintain your milk supply, especially if you are away from your baby. However, any milk that is expressed while you are traveling cannot be donated because we cannot ensure that the temperature of the milk was properly maintained. How do I send my breast milk donation? Prolacta provides all qualified donors with cold shipping containers to ship the breast milk directly to Prolacta Bioscience at no cost to you, and you don't even have to leave your home. Prolacta makes arrangements for your donations to be picked up from your doorstep. Does the milk bank have a confidentiality policy? Any health information collected about donors remains confidential. Will only babies receive my donated milk? Nearly all the breast milk donated will go to babies in need after processing at Prolacta Bioscience. Following screening, testing, formulation and processing, the specialized milk formulations are sold to hospitals for use in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A small portion of your donated milk may be used for ongoing human breast milk research. Each milk bank has a specific mission. See each milk bank's website for additional information. Will I be paid for my donations? By offering access to a network of milk banks, Prolacta allows mothers to choose a milk bank with which she feels most comfortable or best meets her needs. Donors can choose to work with charitable milk banks, or they can choose to be compensated directly. Prolacta utilizes this diversity of milk banks to ensure a supply of milk for those infants who need it most. What if I only want to make a one time donation? I've been pumping extra milk for months and I have more than my baby will ever take. One time donations are welcome. Please tell us how much you have in storage and how long it has been stored. How will my milk be used? Your donated breast milk will be used by Prolacta to make the only human milk fortifier made from 100% human milk, as opposed to cow milk. Prolacta's 100% human milk-based human milk fortifier, Prolact+ H2MF, provides critically ill premature infants with the nutrition necessary to support appropriate growth and development. Prolacta's human milk-based products have been formulated to deliver exact caloric and protein levels every time. This product is critical to premature infants in the NICU who require higher levels of protein and calories than can be provided by mothers' milk alone. Prolacta also manufactures other standarized human milk products for infants in the NICU made from donated milk, however Prolact+ H2MF is their lead product. Aditionally, some of the donor milk collected through Prolacta's partnership with the International Breast Milk Project will be sent to Africa and provided to infants suffering from HIV/AIDS, malnourishment, poverty and disease. It is used only when a baby does not have access to his/her mother's own milk, including babies who are abandoned or orphaned of HIV+ mothers. What resources are available if I have more questions? Contact your milk bank for more information. After lactation begins, how long can a nursing mother donate? There is no time limit on how long you can donate your milk. Since Prolacta Bioscience blends and formulates the milk specifically for preterm babies, there is less concern about minor variations in nutrients that may occur later in lactation. Where does my breast milk go once I donate? Once you qualify as a donor, you send your breast milk directly to Prolacta's processing facility where it is tested, pasteurized and made into nutritional formulations for premature infants in neonatal intensive care units throughout the country. What does Prolacta Bioscience do? Prolacta Bioscience is privately held life sciences company dedicated to improving the quality of life in the most fragile infants through the harmony of nature and science. They create specialty formulations made from human milk for the nutritional needs of premature infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). They developed the first large scale human milk processing facility in the world. They are committed to supporting research in the study of human milk and premature infant nutrition in order to make a difference in the lives of the most fragile babies in the NICU. What is qualified milk? Qualified milk is donated milk which has met all the qualification guidelines. This includes two main phases: qualification of the donor and qualification of the milk she donates. Qualification of the donor includes medical history screening, freezer qualification, DNA profile creation, and viral blood screening. After the donor qualification is completed, she may send her milk to the milk bank. Once the milk is received at Prolacta Bioscience it must undergo and pass several rigorous testing procedures, including but not limited to, bacterial screening, drug screening, and DNA matching. Upon successful completion of these screening procedures, the milk is considered qualified for use in making 100% human milk fortifiers and standardized human milk for use in the NICU. Why do you need to do DNA testing? The DNA matching step is necessary so that the milk we receive is matched to our qualified donors. This safety step ensures that only milk from qualified moms is accepted for production. We start by having the prospective donor provide a sample of cheek cells that we can use to create a unique Donor ID. We extract the DNA from the cheek cells and use it to create a series of 32 numbers that are unique to that donor. Only identical twins share the same profile. Two of the numbers in the profile tell us whether the DNA comes from a man or a woman. Once the donors milk arrives, we take a sample of the DNA found in the milk and generate a Milk ID. We then look to make sure that the Donor ID and Milk ID profiles match. We can also see if there are multiple Milk ID profiles in the same donation, indicating there are two or more different mothers’ milk is contained in the donation. The only information that we generate about the donor from her DNA are the Donor and Milk IDs. We do not generate any other genetic information about the donor. The Donor ID contains no information about the donor’s heath or heredity. Prolacta does not retain samples of the donor’s isolated DNA once the matching of donor to donation is complete. The only thing that is retained is the 32 number Donor ID. While there are other ways to match a donor to a tissue sample, this technique is considered the most accurate and is the gold standard.