​​​​​​​​Frequently asked questions about the Human Donor Milk Bank

What may prevent a mother from being able to provide milk for her own baby?

  • Maternal illness, stress or delivery complications that delay the establishment of a milk supply;

  • Chronic infection or medical condition that precludes breast feeding;

  • Insufficient supply, if pumping for multiple births (i.e. twins).

Is giving babies pasteurised donor milk common?
Milk Banking is a common practice across Australasia & worldwide and is endorsed by the World Health Organization, societies within the medical profession and the New Zealand Breastfeeding Authority.

What are the benefits of pasteurised donor milk?

Pasteurised Human milk contains over 200 components that are useful for growth and infant health:

  • It assists in building a healthy immune system;

  • Acts to protect babies from infections;

  • Contains easily digestible proteins;

  • Reduces the risk of bowel problems in preterm infants;

  • Contributes to nervous system and brain growth.

Is pasteurised donor milk safe to give to babies?
Donor mothers have to successfully complete a health screen and undertake blood tests to ensure they are free of known communicable diseases and infections. The Health screen also ensures that donor milk is free from medications/drugs and nicotine. Additionally the Donor milk is heat treated (Pasteurised) to ensure the milk is as safe as possible.

Which babies can receive pasteurised donor milk?

The medical team use the following criteria to assist in determining who can receive Pasteurised Donor Milk. The purpose of the criteria is to ensure that the most vulnerable of our babies are offered pasteurised donor milk following parental consent.     

Is there a cost to receive donor milk?
Currently Pasteurised Donor Milk is provided free of charge to babies meeting certain criteria who are admitted to Christchurch Women's Hospital Neonatal Unit.

Who can donate their milk?

Any mother producing more milk than their baby needs who successfully completes:

  • The Donor Health screen questionnaire;

  • Blood tests which show they are free of known communicable diseases and infections.​         

  • And her baby is less than six months of age.                       

Human Milk for Our Babies

If I want to Donate what are the blood tests I will consent to?

The screening blood tests will include HIV 1 and 2, Hepatitis B and C, HTLV 1 & 2. HTLV 1 and 2 are risk factors for the onset of adult leukaemia and lymphoma. The blood tests are done at no cost to you.

Are donors paid for their milk?

No. This is a voluntary donation to help our most vulnerable.

Where can I find other information about human donor milk?

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Page last reviewed: 25 June 2018