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Human Donor Milk in the NICU

What is human donor milk?

The donor milk we use comes from milk banks with strict rules to ensure safety of the breast milk. The milk banks screen, pasteurize, test and freeze the human breast milk before they send it to our milk lab.

Why do some babies need human donor milk?

Some mothers may be waiting for their breast milk supply to increase. Other mothers may not want to breastfeed or pump. Human milk can strengthen a baby’s immune system. This helps the baby fight disease and infection. Human milk contains growth hormones to help babies grow and develop normally. Some babies may also digest human milk more easily than formula.

How is human donor milk used in the NICU?

Human donor milk is stored in the neonatal milk lab. Milk lab techs will thaw donor milk and measure it out, then they will deliver the bottles or syringes to your baby’s room.
You may be pumping milk for your baby and using donor milk as a backup. The milk lab will pick up your pumped breastmilk to prepare as many bottles or syringes as they can before using human donor milk.

If you have questions about how we prepare the milk or pick up times, please let your nurse or lactation consultant know. A milk lab tech will be happy to talk with you.

Your baby will no longer need human donor milk if your breastmilk supply increases. Your baby’s health care team and nutritionist will talk with you about when your baby will be ready to switch to formula if you are not pumping milk for your baby.