How it works

The Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin, follow strict screening, processing, and testing guidelines to ensure that banked human milk is safe. They select potential donors using a multi-step screening process similar to that used at blood banks. After being collected, donated milk is pooled and pasteurized to kill any bacteria or viruses.

Only a small percentage of the milk's beneficial properties are destroyed by the pasteurization process. Research shows that the method of pasteurization used at the Mothers' Milk Bank at Austin preserves approximately 70% of the immune factors that help protect babies from illness. Before pasteurized milk is dispensed, bacteriological testing is done to ensure its safety.

Who makes it possible

Milk bank donors are healthy, conscientious women who care about the health of babies. They are most often nursing their own infants, have an abundant milk supply, and donate their extra milk to the Milk Bank. For this generous act they receive no payment or compensation, except the satisfaction that comes from knowing they have helped improve the health of a fragile baby.

Why it matters

  • One in eight babies is born preterm.
  • Human milk is especially important for premature or sick babies, who are at 10 times the risk for devastating intestinal infections if they are fed formula instead of human milk.
  • Fewer than half of moms who deliver a baby prematurely are able to provide their babies with breast milk. Through donor milk, these preterm babies are still able to receive the benefits of breast milk to help them grow and thrive.
  • Some mothers of preterm and sick babies have health complications of their own or may need medications that prevent them from breastfeeding. Yet the babies of these moms are able to get many of the life-saving benefits of breastfeeding through donated human milk.
  • Human milk contains antibodies to fight disease and infection, and also protects against allergies.
  • Human milk contains growth hormones that help babies develop.

More questions? See Milk Banking FAQs.