For Milk Donors

The Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes is a
non-profit human milk bank that serves the Western
Great Lakes region, including Wisconsin and Illinois.

Donor Application Process

  1. Complete the online donor interest form. We will reach out to complete a 10-15 minute phone screening. This “prescreen” will cover general health information, milk storage, lifestyle factors, and more. If you are a candidate for donation, we will send you our full donor application.
  2. Complete the full donor application and consent forms. Please include as much detail as possible! We will review the application and contact your medical providers.
  3. Milk Bank WGL will arrange for blood testing at no cost to you. It typically takes up to 7 business days to get your results.
  4. Once you are approved, we will give you a donor number! You can expect a call from one of our donor screeners with your donor number and drop off instructions. We will help you find a convenient depot location to drop off your frozen breast milk or find other shipping/transport options.

The screening process takes 2-3 weeks to complete. Our goal is to make the screening process as convenient as possible for our donors!

Donor Requirements

Milk donors are healthy, lactating women who have extra milk and want to help other babies in need. Donors are expected to:

  • Donate at least 150 ounces to Milk Bank WGL for their first drop-off
    • Many moms choose to become ongoing donors. There is no minimum for future donations, and we appreciate every drop!
  • Follow the provided guidelines 
  • Maintain contact with Milk Bank WGL to report medications and household illnesses
  • Drop off milk at a convenient Milk Depot, or work with Milk Bank WGL to arrange for shipping
  • Keep milk frozen at home and during transport

We are so grateful to you for considering milk donation, as we know how much time and energy pumping requires. Your contribution truly makes a difference for families throughout Wisconsin and Illinois!

Find your local Depot location here: Depot Locator Map

Milk Storage Guidelines

The milk storage guidelines listed below are meant to reduce the chance of contamination and support safe donor milk processing and distribution. Milk donors must follow these guidelines in order for us to accept milk:  

  • Keep pump parts clean using hot soapy water
  • Store milk in single-use, sterile breast milk storage bags or containers
    • We do not accept milk stored in glass jars, zip-top bags, ice cube trays, etc.
  • Label bags or containers with the date that the milk was pumped
  • Only store milk from different pumping sessions in the same bag or container if it was pumped on the same date
    • Never mix temperatures when combining milk (e.g. only mix cooled milk with cooled milk)
  • After pumping, freeze milk as soon as possible. 
    • If you keep milk in the refrigerator before freezing, please move it to the freezer within 4 days.
  • Do not scald or heat milk before freezing
  • Donate milk that has been frozen for less than nine months 
  • Donate milk that was pumped before baby’s second birthday

Health History and Lifestyle

During the screening process, we will ask about health factors, such as medications, illnesses, and risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens. Taking medications or having certain conditions or illnesses does not necessarily mean you cannot become a donor.

Certain medications and supplements may be appropriate for you and your child, but may not meet the HMBANA milk donation standards. Exclusions for milk that contains certain medications are applied on a case-by-case basis. Exclusions may be short-term, long-term, or may change based on updated research.

Many household illnesses will not prevent you from becoming a donor, but some may require a temporary deferral. This means we will not accept milk that is pumped prior to or after certain symptoms or diagnoses. 

Because our recipient population is very fragile, we ask our donors to follow very conservative alcohol guidelines. Please be prepared to discuss your alcohol use with our donor screeners. We will ask specifically how long you wait to store your pumped milk after consuming any alcohol. It is very helpful to mark a calendar on the dates that you consume alcohol, including the amount consumed. We will also ask about tobacco, CBD products, marijuana, and illicit drugs.

HMBANA Standards require that we defer donors based on certain travel. Please be prepared to answer questions regarding your lifetime travel history.

As a non-profit milk bank, we follow standards set by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). As such, we do not pay or otherwise compensate donors for their milk. This is a preventative measure that keeps milk safe from potential adulteration or tampering. This also helps to ensure that donor milk remains accessible for all families in need, regardless of their financial situation. For more information about our special programs, like our Charity Care program, click here!

Donating After a Loss

Following a pregnancy or infant loss, lactation can be encouraged or suppressed. Whatever a mother decides, Milk Bank WGL strives to support each bereavement family through the donation process and beyond. A beautiful mural featuring glass mosaic artwork covers an entire wall in our milk bank lobby. Custom stars are hand painted with the name and birthday of each participating baby. Families also have the option of submitting a photo of their baby to be circulated in a digital picture frame that hangs next to the memorial wall. Each year, Milk Bank WGL holds an open house and candle lighting ceremony for our star families. In addition, each family is invited to come to the milk bank to hang their baby’s star. Milk Bank WGL is able to accommodate large groups of friends and family (up to 30 people) for this private event.

While some families cherish the opportunity to hang their baby’s star(s), others prefer to have us hang the star(s) and send pictures. Milk Bank WGL is always honored to support the decisions of our donor families. We have found that some bereaved mothers do not know about the option of milk donation until it is too late. We are working to increase educational opportunities regarding bereavement milk donation by offering in-service presentations to participating hospitals. Mothers who suffer perinatal loss should be given the opportunity to make the choice that feels right to them. 

For more information about our Poppy’s Dream program, please contact our Program Coordinator, Susan (susan@milkbankwgl.org), or our Relationship Manager, Jinnie (jinnie@milkbankwgl.org). 

Questions?

If you have any questions about Mothers’ Milk Bank of the Western Great Lakes and our operations, please complete the form or reach out to us directly at the number and email address below.

Contact us at 847-262-5134 or email
info@milkbankwgl.org.