- Why should I donate?
Donated breastmilk can help save lives! Critically ill and premature infants have increased nutritional demand compared to healthy babies. Fortunately, some generous moms have extra breastmilk they can donate through the donor milk program to benefit these infants. The breastmilk these moms donate can be processed into donor milk and other specialty breastmilk formulations that are sold to hospitals to help meet the nutritional requirements for critically ill and premature would likely receive formula products made from cow’s milk. Thank you in advance for being interested in helping spread awareness about breastmilk donation to help save babies’ lives.
- Is Prolacta a for-profit company?
Yes, Prolacta is a for-profit company that makes a complete line of human milk–based nutritional products available for critically ill and premature infants. The company has invested in research, clinical studies, and facilities to develop and test human milk–based 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 only sells its human milk products to hospitals. Insurance covers the costs of products in most cases. Prolacta does not sell products directly to parents.
- How do I know if I am a candidate to donate milk?
- Will I have enough milk for my baby if I donate?
We work with women who are more than 4 weeks postpartum and after breastfeeding has been well established. If you believe you consistently produce more milk than your baby needs, we are happy to accept your application.
- Can I donate milk that I pumped, collected, and froze prior to being qualified as a donor?
Once you provide your contact information to the milk bank, you will be provided with details about our requirements for previously collected milk. In many cases, this milk is eligible for donation.
- What equipment will I need as a breastmilk donor?
After you qualify as a milk donor, the milk bank will provide you with breastmilk 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 breastmilk bottle sterilizer with a drying function.
- How can I ensure my milk meets Prolacta's standards for the babies that receive our products?
Once you contact the milk bank, you will be provided with best practices and guidelines designed to help you meet your donation goals.
- How is the milk tested after it has been received at Prolacta?
Prolacta tests every shipment of milk for many factors, including but not limited to, the addition of water, adulteration (for example adding cow milk to the breastmilk), drugs of abuse, nicotine, marijuana, as well as for HIV, HTLV, HCV, HBV, TB, ZIKV and syphilis. Prolacta is also the only organization that includes a safety combination of DNA matching of the qualified donor to the milk received.
- 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. The only information that Prolacta generates about the donor from her DNA is the Donor and Milk IDs. A series of 32 numbers is generated from the DNA sample to uniquely identify the donor, which is then matched to the same 32 numbers in the milk. Prolacta does not generate any other genetic information about the donor. The Donor ID contains no information about the donor’s health 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 unique 32-number series.
- If I take medication, can I still become a donor?
Some medications that might be considered safe for moms nursing their own babies may be harmful to critically ill and vulnerable babies who receive our products. Once you complete our questionnaire, we can give you further guidance.
- What is qualified milk?
Qualified milk is donated milk that has met all the qualification guidelines. Once the milk is received at Prolacta, 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–based nutritional products for use in hospitals.
- How should I store the milk prior to shipping?
For best results, we suggest you set your freezer to the coldest setting to store milk for donation. Ideally, milk is frozen immediately, but if not, it is placed in the refrigerator no longer than 12 hours before being placed in the freezer. Prolacta will work with you to test your freezer temperature during the qualification process.
- How do I send my breastmilk donation?
Prolacta provides all qualified donors with cold shipping containers to ship breastmilk directly to them at no cost to you. Prolacta provides arrangements for donations to be picked up from your doorstep so you don’t have to leave your home!
- Will only babies receive my donated milk?
Nearly all the breastmilk donated will go to critically ill and premature infants in hospitals after being processed into safe standardized donor milk and human breastmilk products at Prolacta. Following the screening, testing, formulation, and processing, the specialized milk formulations are sold to hospitals. A small portion of donated milk may be used for ongoing human breastmilk research.
- After lactation begins, how long can a nursing mother donate breastmilk?
There is no time limit on how long you can donate your milk. Since Prolacta blends and formulates the milk specifically for critically ill and premature infants, there is less concern about minor variations in nutrients that may occur later in lactation.
- What if I need to take medications or become ill while I am donating?
If you begin taking medications or if you or your nursing baby become ill, please notify the milk bank for guidance.
- Can I drink alcohol while donating?
Yes. Daily use of no more than 1.5 ounces of hard liquor, 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and/or 10 ounces of wine cooler in 24 hours is permitted. If a donor, on a rare occasion drinks more than this, she will be given washout instructions and asked to separate the milk.
- Can I drink caffeine while donating?
Yes. Donors need to keep their daily intake of caffeinated beverages to a maximum of 300 mg of caffeine. For comparison, an average 8 oz regular coffee has approximately 100 mg. Some drinks may contain as much as 300 mg of caffeine; we ask you to review the labels before consuming caffeinated drinks.
- Does Prolacta participate in milk sharing?
No. Prolacta is not involved with nor do they promote milk sharing. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Health Canada, and European authorities have made statements that milk sharing via the internet is an unsafe practice.
- Do Prolacta and the donor milk program have a confidentiality policy?
Yes. All health information collected about donors remains confidential.