FAQs

Donating Milk 

Who donates milk to Northwest Mothers Milk Bank? 

Our milk donors are some of the most kind-hearted people you will ever meet! They are healthy, non-smoking parents who find themselves with more milk than their own babies need. They donate the excess to improve the health and survival of infants in their community. Approximately 10% of our milk donors donate milk after the loss of an infant. Visit our Donate Milk page to learn more.

Who will receive my milk? 

NWMMB is located in Tigard, OR, and dispenses pasteurized donor human milk to hospitals and families throughout Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and beyond.

 

Why is there a screening process to donate milk? 

The screening process ensures the safety and wellbeing of both donors and recipients. Before donating milk, milk donors undergo a medical history check, a release from their healthcare provider, and a blood test, at no cost to them. This ensures that donors are healthy and their milk is safe to be pasteurized and distributed. We require a signed release from the infant’s healthcare provider as well when applicable - it is important to be sure the donor’s baby is growing well, and all nutritional requirements are being met. 

 

Why do you ask for a minimum donation? 

NWMMB asks milk donors to commit to donating between 100-150 ounces of milk. As a nonprofit organization, this helps to offset the costs of completing the donor screening process. We do not have a minimum donation amount for donors who are donating after a loss.  

Receiving Milk

Is donor milk safe? 

Yes, donor milk is safe for infants! Safety and Quality are our priority. Northwest Mothers Milk Bank follows strict screening, processing, and dispensing guidelines established by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) to ensure the safety of donor breastmilk. These guidelines have been established with the advisement of the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the blood and tissue industries. Potential milk donors provide complete medical and lifestyle histories and undergo blood tests like the screening process used at blood banks. Donated milk is then pasteurized to kill bacteria or viruses that may be present in the milk. Before the pasteurized milk is dispensed, testing is performed by an outside laboratory. 

 

Will my baby benefit from receiving donor milk? 

Human milk is ideal for all babies. Your infant’s healthcare provider or lactation consultant can help you determine if donor milk is needed. Everyone’s feeding experience is different and every baby has unique needs. Often donor milk is needed for a short time period while lactation is being established. 


How do I get donor milk for my baby?

You will need a prescription from your infant’s caregiver. Please visit our Outpatient page to learn more and download a prescription form.


Where do I go to get donor milk for my baby? 

NWMMB is committed to increasing access to human milk. Donor milk is available by prescription, either directly from NWMMB or through a Donor Milk Distribution Site. Although NWMMB is located in Tigard, OR, pasteurized donor human milk is shipped to hospitals and families throughout the Pacific Northwest. 

About Milk Banking 

Why is donor milk important? 

Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants. Rich in nutrients and antibodies, breastmilk protects an infant from developing infections, allergies, and long-term health complications. A mother’s own breastmilk is always the best for her baby, but sometimes a mother’s milk is not 100% available. Evidenced-based research shows the use of human donor milk from an accredited milk bank should be the standard of care for supplementation of hospitalized premature and ill newborns, particularly those in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). An exclusive human milk diet for all infants is proven to provide the essential nutrients and immunological protection necessary for optimal growth and improved long-term health.  


Is there a need for donor milk? 

We envision a world where every baby has access to the human milk they need. The demand for donor milk has increased over the past decade. Donated milk is particularly vital for preterm and hospitalized infants with medical need. 

 

Why is pasteurization important? 

Milk that is donated to NWMMB is pasteurized according to the quality and safety standards from the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). Milk is pasteurized using a safe, evidence-based process called Holder pasteurization. The milk is gently heated in a shaking water bath, which kills bacteria and viruses that may be present in the milk while preserving many of its nutritional components. After pasteurization, milk is frozen and tested for Safety and Quality.
 

Do hospitals and outpatients pay a processing fee for human donor milk?

Yes, all nonprofit milk banks charge a fee for human donor milk. Revenue from our processing fees help to cover the costs of donor screening, pasteurization, distribution and the provision of community care for infants with medical need. Any surplus revenue is directed back to fulfilling our mission. NWMMB will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for private insurance coverage for human donor milk.


What does it mean to be a nonprofit milk bank? 

NWMMB is proud to be a community-based nonprofit milk bank. We received our 501(c)3 certification in 2009. Our milk donors are true volunteers, making milk donations to improve the health and survival of vulnerable babies. For-profit milk banks do exist. They are privately owned by individuals and are aimed at increasing profits for their owners. 

 

We rely on our amazing milk donors, volunteers, tireless staff, healthcare partners, community foundations, passionate board directors and financial supporters to sustain our community milk bank. 

You can save babies in need by becoming a milk donor.

Northwest Mothers Milk Bank is a nonprofit human milk bank accredited by HMBANA

image of human milk banking association of northa america's logo

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15875 SW 74th Ave., Tigard, OR 97224

Our office hours are

Monday-Thursday 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Friday 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

Closed Saturday-Sunday

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Email: info@nwmmb.org

Phone: (503) 469-0955

Toll Free: (800) 204-4444

Fax: (503) 469-0962

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