Everything You Should Know about Donated Breast Milk

Everything You Should Know about Donated Breast Milk

Last update: 04 May, 2018

Ideally, the milk that a baby receives should come from its own mother. That being said, sometimes little ones are fed donated breast milk.

Mothers aren’t always able to breastfeed their own babies, but there are specialized centers where donated breast milk can be found. 

In this post, we want to provide in-depth information regarding what it means to administer this product to babies.

As we all know, breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for newborn babies. Recent studies have discovered that breast milk has the ability to adapt to the needs of each individual baby.

Furthermore, we’ve observed breast milk up close and we recognize its evolution as a live substance.

It has also been discovered that breast milk has the capacity to adjust its composition according to the baby’s sex. That’s why it’s important to establish whether giving a baby donated breast milk is advantageous or not. 

In some cases, babies must remain in the hospital for some time, which means they’ll need the nutrients that breast milk provides.

If a baby isn’t strong or healthy enough to leave the hospital and go home, it’s best that he or she remain in the hospital. While the baby is recovering, she must be fed.

In many places, feeding breast milk is considered a priority. That’s why it’s common to depend on a breast milk bank that will provide for the baby’s nourishment.

Who can receive donated breast milk?

Everything You Should Know about Donated Breast Milk

The supply of nutrients that breast milk offers can be helpful in the recovery of babies that are hospitalized. This source of nutrition prevents infections and offers protection in many aspects of a baby’s health.

It’s also recommended in other cases, for example, in cases of orphaned children or children whose mothers are for some reason unable to breastfeed.

Although choosing to feed a baby using formula is always an option, there is nothing like a mother’s breast milk to nourish a baby during his first six months of life.

All breast milk is believed to always be composed of the same elements. Therefore, it shouldn’t matter whether the milk comes from a donor or from the baby’s own mother.

Breast milk is always preferable over formula.

In order to receive the benefits of donated breast milk, there must be medical justification.

In other words, not just anyone is granted access to a breast milk bank – a doctor’s prescription is required. 

Breast milk bank reserves are unfortunately limited, so priority must be given to urgent cases.

However, when possible, a baby can receive donated breast milk even when she’s already at home. With a pediatrician’s orders, mothers are granted access to the breast milk supply provided by a specialized human milk bank.

Ideally, fortunate mothers help with the stocking of this milk through their donations, as they’re always much needed. 

What should we keep in mind regarding donated breast milk?

One of the things that often worries us about the use of this milk is its safety. In general, specialists affirm that it’s very safe. 

In most cases, the donated milk comes from mothers who pumped more than what their babies drank. These mothers also undergo testing to rule out any possibility of transmitting any diseases via their breast milk.

In the same way, mothers who donate their milk store it in sterilized containers. These containers are tested to eliminate the possibility of spreading bacteria.

At the same time, the conservation mechanisms are inspected and maintained according to requirements.

Later on, the milk undergoes the process of pasteurization, which eliminates all microorganisms considered to be infectious or risky.

This procedure destroys some nutritional and immunological components, but it’s usually a small percent.

When maternal breast milk is pasteurized, it maintains most of its properties, despite the changes it undergoes.

And even taking into consideration these changes, baby formula cannot even begin to compare.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Gertosio C, Meazza C, Pagani S, Bozzola M. Breastfeeding and its gamut of benefits. Minerva Pediatr. 2016 Jun;68(3):201-12.
  • Borges MS, Oliveira AMM, Hattori WT, Abdallah VOS. Quality of human milk expressed in a human milk bank and at home. J Pediatr (Rio J). 2018 Jul-Aug;94(4):399-403.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.