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An Adoptive Parent’s Guide to Donated Breastmilk

Breastfeeding is an opportunity that many new mothers look forward to. This can be especially significant for adoptive moms who have longed to have the same experience. For many, it’s an important first step in the parenting process that they’ve been dreaming of. But even if you are not planning to breastfeed your baby yourself, there is another way to give your baby many of the same benefits — by using donated breast milk.
If you’ve read about what it’s like to breastfeed an adopted baby, then you’re probably familiar with donated breast milk. Learn more about it here.

Why Should I Consider Using Donated Breast Milk?

The decision of how to feed your baby is an incredibly personal one, and you are the only person who can decide whether breastfeeding (or bottle feeding using donated breast milk) is right for you. Those who choose this path often do so because of a few common benefits.
Breastfeeding isn’t just great for the baby, it’s great for you, too. On one hand, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to bond. On the other, your baby will be exposed to a number of health benefits and nutrients they’ll have a hard time finding elsewhere. Although breastfeeding isn’t the right path for every mom, many consider it a great way to make sure their baby is getting their best start to life. Choosing to breastfeed is a very personal decision, so we can’t tell you if it’s right for you. You should plan to do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.

Where Can I Find Donated Breast Milk?

Although not impossible, it can be difficult for many adoptive moms to provide enough breast milk on their own. Some moms will have easier time producing milk, while others may be prone to struggle. Both situations are normal, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having trouble on your own. Either way, all adoptive moms will likely have to supplement their breast milk in some form to make their dreams of breastfeeding a reality.
Donated breast milk can come from a variety of places, but the safest way to receive and use it is through a donation bank, hospital or someone you know and trust. Each has their own pros and cons, but we will mention that a donor through a reputable bank or hospital program is heavily screened to make sure that any milk she provides is safe. After the screening, the milk is then processed and ready to use. Although the milk donation banks receive is prioritized for certain needs, this is one of the best ways to make sure the breast milk you use is absolutely safe for your baby. If you’re struggling to find a donation bank or another safe alternative, talk to your doctor to see if they can refer you to any safe local resources. The last thing you want is to receive donated breast milk that does more harm than good.

What to Know About Donated Breast Milk

Donated breast milk can be a great way to help new adoptive moms who are ready to nurse, but there are some things you should consider. Most importantly, you need to think about where you plan on receiving the donated breast milk from. In some cases, using informal milk sharing can have dangerous consequences
You should always stay away from buying donated breast milk online. You should also stay away from those offering their services as a wet nurse, a situation that’s equally risky. While donated breast milk is readily available online, there’s no way to guarantee that it’s safe. You can’t trust everything that someone tells you online. There have been a few instances of breast milk that was purchased on the internet that actually contained cow’s milk or another type of liquid instead of the pure human milk that was advertised. This way, if the unscreened donor can’t make enough milk, they can still make a profit by pretending there is more volume in each package. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if the milk you’re purchasing is 100 percent human milk. While there are some women who are milk‐sharing out of the kindness of their hearts, not everyone has the same values. Another risk is the presence of bacteria and other harmful viruses. And you can’t be certain of how well the milk was stored before it reaches you and if it’s safe to use. Taking a chance on an unscreened donor means that you don’t know what exactly is in the milk you’re purchasing.
While it is possible to have a successful experience through informal milk sharing, it’s important to be cautious. Unless you know the donor extremely well, using this method to give and receive breast milk is generally unsafe. You’ll have to be the one to determine if the risks are worth it. Although you might have an easier time receiving donated breast milk through informal sharing, it should only be from a friend or someone you know just as well. While this isn’t the best way to eliminate any potential risks, it’s much better than reaching out to someone you don’t know or have never met in person.

Resources for Donated Breast Milk

With enough knowledge, you can rest assured that any donated breast milk you use is perfectly safe for your baby. To learn more about donated breast milk, reach out to the following resources: