A breast milk bank is a location where mothers can donate breast milk for babies in need. There are many reasons that a woman may wish to donate to a breast milk bank. Milk from the bank can then be used by women who are unable to produce their own milk, by foster children, by adopted children, or by sick children who require more milk than their mothers can produce.
There are breast milk banks located in many different cities. The banks solicit donations from mothers who have an excess of breast milk or who have breast milk to donate. A mother whose child consumes smaller amounts of milk than she makes, or a mother who is attempting to loose baby weight may consider donating breast milk to help out infants in need, since pumping breast milk can increase a woman's metabolic rate. A woman who has a premature baby may also want to donate breast milk because she needs to pump to keep her milk going until her own baby comes home from the hospital to be able to breast feed her own child.
To donate to a breast milk bank, women generally need to be healthy and non-smokers. Other tests may be performed by the bank to ensure that the woman is healthy. As of 2010, there is a deficient supply of milk at banks so breast milk banks are recruiting women to donate their milk to babies in need.
There are many health benefits associated with feeding a baby breast milk. Breast feeding can boost a baby's immune system and can help by providing needed antioxidants to an infant. As such, many people wish to breast feed infants. If a woman is unable to do so as a result of adopting a child or because she isn't producing enough milk on her own, she may go to a breast milk bank and apply to be able to feed her child milk. Foster children and sick children can also benefit from those mothers who are able and willing to donate their milk to a breast milk bank.
The Human Milk Banking Association of North America is one organization that certifies breast milk banks throughout the United States. The association has rigorous policies and screening in place to ensure the safety of all involved, including mothers and children. Mothers interested in donating or in finding a milk bank to provide milk for their infants can do so by contacting the Human Milk Banking Association of North America or by contacting the maternity ward at their local hospital.