for babies receiving donor milk

Breast milk: give your baby the best

Human milk is important for all babies. But for medically fragile or premature infants, breast milk is even more critical. It can help babies grow, avoid illness, and leave the NICU sooner.

Pasteurized donor milk can be an important part of a baby’s treatment plan. And when a mother’s own breast milk isn’t available, either temporarily or long-term, milk that has been donated by carefully screened moms and thoroughly pasteurized can fill in the gaps.

Babies who receive donor milk:

  • Are protected from a variety of serious conditions
  • Have higher rates of breastfeeding after leaving the hospital
  • Have reduced hospital stays
The safe choice

Three Rivers Mothers’ Milk Bank strictly adheres to the screening, processing and distribution guidelines of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). For more than 30 years, babies in NICUs across the US and Canada have benefitted from properly screened and pasteurized donated breast milk from HMBANA non-profit milk banks, with no documented adverse effects.

Learn more about the safety of donated breast milk.

Donated milk: safety checks and balances

In every step of the process, overlapping safety checks ensure safe, high-quality pasteurized donor milk for babies.

Donor Mom Screening

In order to donate milk, a caring mom must pass a four-part screening process:

  • Written interview
  • Verbal interview
  • Health care provider assessment
  • Blood test

Donors are never paid. HMBANA strictly prohibits the compensation of donors due to safety and ethical concerns.

Donor Milk Pasteurization 

All donated milk is bottled and pasteurized by national standards. This includes heating it to 62.5 °C for thirty minutes. This keeps the milk’s components in tact, while eliminating pathogens like bacteria and infectious agents. After processing, bottles are tested. Processed milk is then frozen and distributed by prescription only.

Breast milk: big impact on the tiniest babies

Each year, nearly 11% of the 140,000 babies born in Pennsylvania and West Virginia arrive prematurely.

One of the greatest risks for infants born before 34 weeks gestation is developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a serious inflammation of their intestines that can lead to surgery, or poor long-term outcomes. The use of donor human milk decreases the risk of NEC by 80%.

What’s more, babies receiving donated human milk in the NICU have lower rates of serious infections, shorter hospital stays, and higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding upon discharge.


Your baby’s medical team may recommend donor milk to give your baby the best start. Each hospital has its own guidelines for using donor milk but it can also be used for a number of reasons in the hospital including:

  • Prematurity
  • GI conditions including Short Gut Syndrome and Gastroschisis
  • Biliary Atresia
  • Congential Heart Disease
  • Maternal Insufficiency
  • Hypogylcemia


Babies and young children being cared for at home may also benefit from donor milk. Typical diagnoses include:

  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Failure to Thrive
  • Immune Disorders
  • Inborn Errors of Metabolism
  • Intolerance of Formula
  • Malabsorption Disorders
  • Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
  • Organ Transplantation
  • Post-surgical Nutrition
  • Prematurity (post discharge)
  • Renal Disease
  • Short Gut Syndrome
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type II

Outpatient use requires a prescription from your child’s healthcare provider. Please contact us at to obtain an outpatient packet including prescribing and pricing information.

The cost of donor milk for outpatient use may be paid for by insurance. Please consult with your healthcare provider and insurer to inquire about coverage.  We are happy to provide assistance.

We encourage you to speak to your healthcare provider if you feel donor milk may benefit your baby.

Still have questions? Check out our FAQ page to learn more.

Bridge Program

When breastfeeding has a rocky start it can be a stressful time.

Sometimes supplementation is required as mothers work on establishing their milk supplies or work through latching issues. The use of donor milk to bridge the gap as these issues resolve may be helpful on either an inpatient or outpatient basis. Many of our hospitals are beginning to add Bridge programs for mothers who are committed to breastfeeding but are having short term difficulties.

If you think you could benefit from this type of support please ask your physician, midwife, or lactation consultant.