Mothers who have an overabundance of breast milk can help those who have difficulties producing enough by donating or selling their extra breast milk.
Below, we explain how to donate or sell breast milk, including how much you can earn.
Why Should I Donate Breast Milk?
According to the majority of medical professionals, breastfeeding is the healthiest choice for babies (and moms, too!). Doctors recommend that babies drink only breast milk for the first six months. Human milk boosts infant immune systems in a way that formula simply cannot match, and the physical connection between mother and infant can form strong emotional bonds.
Some mothers, however, can’t breastfeed for various reasons. It can be an emotionally trying situation. Becoming a donor can relieve some of that stress for these mothers.
What Are the Donor Requirements?
If donating to a milk bank, there are a few requirements breast milk donors must meet.
- Be generally healthy
- Have a good medical history
- Not drink alcohol
- Not smoke
- Have refrigerator that goes below -20C (-4F) for storage purposes
- Have a healthy baby
The following factors might make you ineligible to donate your breast milk:
- A history of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus)
- A history of HIV or intimate contact with someone who has or is at risk of HIV
- Intimate contact with someone with infectious hepatitis
- Venereal disease within the last 12 months
- Currently taking insulin injections for diabetes
- Tobacco user or nicotine patch user. May also be ineligible if living with a smoker even if the donor does not smoke.
- A history of cancer
- History of intravenous drug use
- History of human pituitary growth hormone use
- Have received a dura mater transplant
- Lived in Europe for a total of five years between 1980 and 1996
Depending on the particular company, the following criteria are on the borderline of eligibility. Some locations may still take your donation, while others might not. It is best to check right away with the location to which you’re considering donating.
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Major surgery in the last 12 months
- Vaccinations in the last 12 months
- Moderate coffee or alcohol drinker
- Significant weight loss
- Use of fenugreek or other lactation herbs to increase milk supply
- Taking some medications (varies by location)
What is the Process to Sell or Donate Breastmilk?
Though the process of donating or selling breastmilk can vary, the basic procedure begins with a health screening, which includes a blood test, of the donor.
There are several eliminating health factors that can preclude a donor from being allowed to donate her breast milk (listed under “Ineligibility” above).
Assuming the donor has passed the health screening, a donor information form would be completed for the milk bank to have all contact information on hand.
The donor would then pump breast milk into sterile, one-time use containers or bags, purchased by the donor. The containers or bags will need to be labeled, usually with the donor’s identification information and the date the milk was expressed.
Donors will need to store the milk in the refrigerator or freezer within 30 minutes of pumping until it is ready to be dropped off at the nearest milk bank.
Some milk banks will accept breastmilk by mail; however, it would need to be overnighted in a cooler and kept on ice. Some milk banks may arrange overnight shipping and may send you a cooler for shipping.
The List of Milk Banks to Consider
Mothers Milk Co-op
- Location: This is mostly done online, but with the cooperation of established organizations like the Red Cross. Milk is eventually shipped to the co-op and then given where it is needed.
- Payment: One dollar per ounce. 100 ounces of milk must be donated to the bank to cover the qualification expenses. Payment is directly deposited 90 days after the milk is received.
- Process: Begin the process by applying for Mothers Milk Co-op membership online and completing a medical questionnaire.
- Read the above information and more at the Mothers Milk Co-op website
- Locations: Online only, but donors can choose which milk bank donated milk is sent to which include Milk for Wishes Milk Bank, Texas Children’s Hospital, FirstSteps Donor Milk Program of Methodist Children’s Hospital, and others.
- Payment: Varies by location. For example, at Make-A-Wish, it’s simply a donation without a payout. Elsewhere, such as Tiny Treasures, payment is $1 per ounce.
- Process: Begin the process by selecting one of the 3 milk banks Prolacta Bioscience is affiliated with and complete a medical history survey.
- Read the above information and more at Prolacta’s website
Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA)
- Locations: There are over 20 locations in the United States and Canada. View HMBANA’s map to see if there’s a location near you
- Payment: Because HMBANA is a not-for-profit organization, donations of milk will strictly be a donation and no payment is involved. This organization prides itself in garnering a pool of selfless donors who want to give without expecting reciprocation.
- Process: To begin the process, select the milk bank closest to you.
- Read the above information and more at HMBANA’s website
If you don’t have a milk bank nearby or would prefer to sell directly to another mom, you can do so online. The website Only the Breast is like Craigslist for breast milk.
As a peer-to-peer site, Only the Breast isn’t as closely regulated as a milk bank might be. Buyers and sellers are encouraged to read, study, and follow the guidelines and expectations as far as aseptic technique for expressing, handling, storing, and shipping human milk. It is also for this reason that the FDA warns against selling and buying online.
On the Only the Breast site, mothers can post ads to buy or sell breastmilk. Buyers can browse ads by age of the baby or by categories such as fresh on demand, vegan diets, milk for sick or premature babies, and local buyers or sellers.
It is very important to screen donors for all the requirements. It is equally as important to be sure that milk is pasteurized before use, as bacteria can grow in unpasteurized milk.
If you have more questions regarding this do-it-yourself process, you can visit Only the Breast’s Buy Sell Donate page or its Tips page. We recommend reading through the website thoroughly to fully understand the process as this can protect you and the receiving party.
Note: Breast milk can be sold through other means, such as person to person without the assistance of a milk bank or website but it’s not recommended, particularly for those wishing to purchase breast milk.
Milk banks require donor health screenings before donations are accepted. Only the Breast recommends a buyer asks for a seller’s health screening but it’s not a requirement for someone selling breast milk on its site.
Breast milk purchased through other means may be tainted with other liquids or not pasteurized.
How Much Can I Get Paid?
The market for breastmilk is surprisingly competitive and therefore has a generous payout for those wishing to sell.
The prices do fluctuate depending on whether you sell to a bank or if you sell online. It also depends on the amount you’re able to sell.
The average price of breast milk is about $2.50 an ounce. The low end of pricing is $1 an ounce; the high end is $4 an ounce.
At a rate of $4 an ounce, if a lactating mother is producing 16oz of extra breast milk per day and selling it, that’s a total of $23,360 (16oz x $4 x 365 days).
What Do Other Donors Say?
Still unsure whether you want to donate? It may help to read milk donation testimonials. Reading about someone else’s struggles, processes, triumphs, and bad and good stories can help you evaluate if donating is worth it.