Thank you for your interest in nonprofit pasteurized donor human milk banking. Here are answers to our most frequently asked questions.
If there's still more on your mind, please reach out and we'll be happy to provide additional information.
- What is HMBANA?
- What is a HMBANA member milk bank?
- How many members does HMBANA have?
- What is pasteurized donor human milk?
- How can I donate my milk?
- Can I donate my milk if my infant has passed away? (Bereavement donations.)
- How can I receive milk?
- How does donor milk relate to breastfeeding advocacy?
- How can I help?
- HMBANA Informational Flyer
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) mobilizes the healing power of donor milk by accrediting nonprofit milk banks in the US and Canada, and setting international guidelines for pasteurized donor human milk. Our members help mothers donate their extra breast milk for use by fragile infants as medicine. Our efforts ensure that the process is evidence-based and clinically sound. Together, we advocate for donor milk as a universal standard of care, regardless of ability to pay.
A HMBANA member milk bank collects breast milk from mothers who have more than their babies need, then screens, pasteurizes, and tests it, and, finally, dispenses it to premature and fragile infants in need, either in hospitals or homes. HMBANA milk banks are nonprofit operations that follow internationally recognized guidelines for pasteurized donor human milk. Mothers donate their milk altruistically and hospitals and outpatient recipient families pay a processing fee which is then reinvested back into the operations of the milk bank.
How many members does HMBANA have?
HMBANA has 32 member milk banks across the United States and Canada.
Pasteurized donor human milk is breast milk which has been donated to a HMBANA member milk bank. Upon donation, it is screened, pooled, and tested so that it can be dispensed to hospitals and outpatient families for use by infants in need. All donor mothers require screening and approval, and all donor milk is logged and monitored. Pasteurization eliminates harmful bacteria or other potential infecting organisms. A small amount of nutritional elements are lost in the process, however donor milk has been determined to be the second best choice after mothers’ own.
Thank you for your interest in donating your extra breast milk to a HMBANA nonprofit member milk bank. To begin the process, please review our list of member milk bank locations and contact the one most convenient for you. It doesn’t have to be in your home state, as many milk banks work regionally and nationally. Milk banks cover the cost of screening donors and shipping, and many have drop off sites called donor milk depots in conveniently located areas.
On behalf of our whole network of member milk banks, our thoughts go out to anyone who is asking this question either personally or on behalf of another. While bereavement donation is not the right option for everyone, some mothers choose to donate expressed milk upon the loss of their child as a way of seeking solace or honoring their child’s memory by helping others. It is important that care providers who are working with bereaved mothers appropriately share this option so that they know it is available, if needed or desired. Most HMBANA member milk banks have special materials and support in place for bereavement donations.
Thank you for your interest in receiving donor human milk from a HMBANA nonprofit member milk bank. To get started, please review our list of member milk bank locations and contact the one most convenient for you. It doesn’t have to be in your home state, as many milk banks work regionally and nationally.
Pasteurized donor human milk can serve as a bridge to breastfeeding when there's a delay in mother's milk coming in or another need for supplementation. HMBANA member milk banks participate in the broader breastfeeding community by joining local and state breastfeeding coalitions that advocate for lactation education and support. On the national level, HMBANA participates in the United States Breastfeeding Committee.
Thank you for asking! We are a nonprofit organization with an important mission and much work to do. If you want to donate your extra milk, money, or time, you can read about your options in our section, "How to Help".