Information for the public

Can I donate my breast milk?

Can I donate my breast milk?

If you are breastfeeding and are interested in becoming a breast milk donor, contact your nearest milk bank (for more information, see More information).

Staff at the milk bank should first give you some information about donating milk; this will advise you that you won't be able to donate if you:

  • smoke or are using nicotine products to help you give up smoking

  • regularly drink more than 1 to 2 units of alcohol, once or twice a week (the recommended limit for breastfeeding mothers)

  • are using, or have recently used, recreational drugs

  • have tested positive for HIV 1 or 2, hepatitis B or C, human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) I or II, or syphilis

  • know that you have an increased risk of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD; for more information about this, visit and click on 'Information leaflets for patients and healthcare professionals').

If you think you could be a suitable donor, staff at the milk bank should arrange a convenient time to meet or talk with you about becoming a donor. They should also explain that all potential donors need to have blood tests for infections that could be passed on through breast milk. They should ask you for your consent to have these tests.

It should be explained to you that you will need to go through a screening process before you can donate milk. First you should be asked some questions about your medical history, and your general health and lifestyle. These questions should be asked as part of an informal discussion, but milk bank staff may also ask you to fill in a questionnaire (or help you to do so). If any information is needed from your medical records they should ask for your consent to look at these.

You should be asked:

  • about your health and the health of your baby

  • whether you are having any medical treatment or taking any prescribed drugs

  • if you have had any recent medical tests done (for example, have you had an X-ray that involved you being injected with a radioactive substance?)

  • whether you have had any recent exposure to infection

  • if your job or your home environment mean that you have come into contact with high levels of environmental or chemical contaminants (for example, if the water supply you use has been contaminated)

  • whether you are exposed to cigarette smoke anywhere (for example, if you live with a heavy smoker).

Milk bank staff should explain that whether you can donate depends on both the answers to these questions and the results of your blood tests.

If you want to donate breast milk that you have already expressed, you should be asked to answer the screening questions for the period when you expressed the milk.

Milk bank staff should arrange for you to give a blood sample for testing. They should explain that results from any earlier antenatal blood tests you have had cannot be used instead. Your blood will be tested for:

  • HIV 1 and 2

  • hepatitis B and C

  • HTLV I and II

  • syphilis.

When the results of your blood tests are available, a staff member from the milk bank should arrange to see you to discuss them with you, or should discuss them with you by telephone. They may inform you in writing if that's what you prefer. If you need some support after receiving your test results, you should be offered as much help and support as you need, which should include information about counselling and local support groups.

If there is a reason why you are not suitable to donate milk after you have been through the screening process, any milk that you have already donated will not be used.

  • Information Standard