How to: Collecting Milk

Collecting Pumped Milk for Donation

Properly pumping and collecting expressed breast milk are important steps in the donation process. Before each pumping session:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Gently wipe the nipples and then breast, from the nipple out, with clean, damp washcloth and mild soap
  • Express your milk into a sterile container.
    • We prefer you freeze milk in the pre-sterilized containers MMBA provides to reduce waste that results from torn milk storage bags. However, if you don't have MMBA containers, you may use any food-grade hard plastic or glass container which has been boiled for five minutes.
    • Leave ½ inch at the top of the container for the milk to expand as it freezes.
    • If you are collecting directly into the container you will use for freezing, open it and place the cap on the table facing up.
    • If you are pumping into another container, leave the storage container closed until you are finished pumping and are ready to pour the milk into it. Do not touch the top lip of the container or the inside of the cap or container.
  • Write your donor ID number, last name, and pump date on each container.
  • If you are donating milk collected before you completed the donor screening, the same applies: make sure your name or ID number is clearly marked either on each container of milk or on the outside of a bag that contains your containers of milk.
  • Refrigerate or freeze your milk within 30 minutes of pumping.
    • You may refrigerate your milk for up to 24 hours before freezing. If there is still room for more milk in the container after one pumping session, you may add to it before freezing.
    • You may also add fresh milk to frozen milk using the following method: Chill fresh milk in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then pour chilled fresh milk on top of frozen milk. Cap and replace in freezer.
  • Clean your pump.Wash, rinse and sterilize the pump parts that touch your breast or milk one time per day, every day that you use it. If you pump two or more times per day, simply rinse between sessions. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions.


Pumping Tips to Keep in Mind

  • If you are temporarily not saving milk to donate, continue to pump. This keeps your milk supply steady and your breasts comfortable.
  • If you drink alcohol, do not pump for the donation for at least 12 hours.
  • Do keep nursing your own baby.


Maximizing Your Milk Power

Pumped milk changes during the course of a single feeding. Milk pumped from a full breast starts out as lower calorie “foremilk.” It will look thin but contains critical antibodies.

As the breast empties, the fat content of the milk increases. Your “hindmilk” is richer in calories. This creamier-looking milk helps small babies gain weight. It is very important to pump both foremilk and hindmilk, so that the babies receiving donor milk will grow well.

Milk expressed in the morning may contain more foremilk. Milk expressed in the afternoon may be higher in hindmilk. You can increase your hindmilk if you:

  • Pump until you “empty” the breast when pumping from a full breast. This will make sure that both the foremilk and hindmilk have been removed. Use as many containers as you need.
  • Pump milk after you have fed your baby.
  • Massage the breast gently before and during pumping to help stimulate the letdown reflex and release more fat into the milk.

More questions? See Milk Donor FAQs.