It’s a life-saving feat to donate blood, but did you know that you can also help young lives by donating breast milk?
If you’re a lactating mother with milk to spare, consider making a donation. Last August, the Cardinal Santos Medical Center (CSMC) opened the Human Milk Bank, which provides nourishing breast milk to infant patients in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Learn more about what you can do to help the cause here:
Why is breast milk important?
For babies aged six months under, breast milk is the perfect food — not only is it a natural life-sustaining substance that is nutritious enough to aid in the proper growth and development of your infant’s brain and nervous system, but it also contains several disease-fighting factors that will help to prevent infections.
Who can donate breast milk?
Lactating women who have already stored milk, are breastfeeding, or are planning to breastfeed may present their intentions and inquiries to a milk bank of their own choice. Milk banks will not accept donations from women who smoke, use illegal drugs, and/or test positive for infections that may be passed on through milk.
Most milk banks also prefer donors who have given birth less than six months prior. This is because the breast milk produced for mothers with younger infants is more suitable for premature babies.
How can I donate breast milk?
Lactating mothers may visit their milk bank of choice to be screened for eligibility. You may check for a list of available milk banks nationwide here.
Afterward, the donor may choose between expressing their milk at the milk bank or from the comforts of their home. Should they choose the latter, the National Nutrition Council recommends the following steps and guidelines:
1. Prepare clean milk bottles.
Use clean and dry containers made of food-grade polypropylene plastic or glass with leak-proof lids. Avoid polycarbonate plastic containers due to the risk of leaching bisphenol A. Bisphenol A or BPA is a chemical used in making plastics and has been shown to interfere with reproductive development in animals. It has also been linked to cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in humans.
2. Collect the milk.
Fill each milk container ¾ full (or leave one inch from the top of the bottle) to allow room for milk expansion when freezing. Hand expression is the recommended method in case an electric pump is not available. Pump-expressed milk and drip milk collected during or between feedings is also accepted for donation. There is no need to discard the first 10 mL of expressed breast milk.
3. Freeze the milk.
Expressed milk should be frozen as soon as possible. Refrigerate milk samples at 4°C collected over 24 hours and freeze the batch. Freshly expressed milk can be added to a bottle of already frozen milk provided that both are collected within a 24-hour period.
4. Transport the milk.
Keep breast milk cool using frozen gel packs in a cooler during transport to the milk bank. Once accepted, your breast milk will be tested, pasteurized, and safely stored.
Who receives the donated breast milk?
Donated breast milk will be offered to babies who are premature, allergic to formula, prone to metabolic or malabsorption issues, and/or immunocompromised, among other reasons.
For further inquiries on how to donate breast milk, you may contact Cardinal Santos Medical Center at (02) 8727-0001 local 1208 or visit the second floor of the CSMC Main Hospital Building.