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BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank

We screen milk donors, and collect and heat-treat (pasteurize) donated milk and distribute it to hospitals in BC.

Bottles of donor milk 

Milk from a baby’s own mother is always the first choice. When her milk isn’t available, donor milk is the next best thing. Donor milk has active beneficial properties and is similar to mother’s own milk. It provides babies with antibodies to fight disease and infection. Human milk is best for all babies. It is especially important for sick and very tiny babies.

The demand for milk is high and often exceeds supply. New donors are always needed.
About

About the Milk Bank

The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank, located at BC Women's Hospital in Vancouver, BC, Canada has operated continuously since 1974 and is a founding member of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America.

During our years of operation we have helped thousands of babies and children, screened over 4,000 donors and processed 43,000 litres (1.5 million ounces) of milk. The need for milk continues to increase so we are always looking for new donors.

Watch our video about the Milk Bank.

The Milk Bank is expanding!

Most of the milk is given to sick or very tiny babies in neonatal intensive care units. Currently, donor milk is available to babies in Royal Columbian Hospital, Surrey Memorial Hospital and BC Women’s Hospital. Our plans are to expand to the rest of the neonatal intensive care units in the province over the next few years.

Advisory Committee

The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank Advisory Committee reports to the Acute Perinatal Program Leadership Committee – it is responsible for advising on operational, quality and other issues concerning the Milk Bank.

The Advisory Committee for the BC Women's Milk bank consists of representation from:

  • Coordinator Lactation Services/Milk Bank (Chair)
  • VP Acute Perinatal program
  • Senior medical director, Acute Perinatal program
  • Division Head Neonatolgy
  • Pediatrics, BC Women's
  • Manager, Acute Perinatal Program
  • Pediatrics, Infectious Diseases
  • Clinical Coordinator, Nutrition Services
  • Social Work
  • Quality Risk Management
  • Director, Hematology (ex-officio)
  • President, BCW Administration ( ex-officio)
  • C & W Infection Control Services –Practitioner (ex-officio)
Staff

The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank is overseen by the Milk Bank Coordinator, a Registered Nurse and lactation consultant. Donor screening is completed by nurse/lactation consultants who work in the BC Women's Lactation Service & Provincial Milk Bank. The processing and physical allocation of milk is done by milk bank technicians who work in the Milk Bank which is on-site at BC Women's Hospital.

For more information, please contact us.

Please note that we do not provide medical advice via e-mail. We strongly recommend that you discuss your health questions and concerns with a qualified health care provider.

 

Affiliations

The BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank is proudly affiliated with the following organizations:

Before attempting to drop off milk to a milk collection depot, you must call the depot that you plan to use to confirm times and location for drop off.

Breast Milk Depots


Fraser Health

Abbotsford Health Unit: (604) 864-3400

104-34194 Marshall Rd. Abbotsford

Drop-off hours: 9:30 to 3:30 Monday to Friday.  

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Park in a spot marked "Fraser Health permit parking".  Note license plate number and register at front desk.  


Agassiz Health Unit: (604) 793-7160

7243 Pioneer Ave, Agassiz

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Closed for lunch 12:00-1:00 Closed weekends and Stat holidays.


Burnaby Health Unit: (604) 918-7605

300-4946 Canada Way, Burnaby

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday.  

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free parking in back of the building marked "Visitor Fraser Health" or street parking.


Chilliwack Health Unit: (604) 575-5100

45470 Melholm Rd, Chilliwack

Drop-off hours: 830 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free street parking (hard to find), or pay parking on side lot (meter is at front of building).


Cloverdale Health Unit: (604) 575-5100

205-17700 56 Ave, Cloverdale

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

*by appointment on Weekends and Stat holidays

Free parking - located in strip mall at 177B and Hwy 10


Delta North Health Unit: (604) 507-5400

11245 84 Ave, Delta

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free parking on site - enter driveway from 112 Street (Library on corner)


Delta South Health Unit: (604) 952-3550 

(switchboard - ask for South Delta Public Health Unit)

4470 Clarence Taylor Cres, Delta (Ladner)

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Limited parking but available on-site closest to front door.


Guildford Health Unit:  (604) 587-4750

100-10233 153 Street, Surrey

Drop-off hours:  8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free Street parking.


Hope Health Unit:  (604) 860-7630

44 Park Street, Hope

Drop-off hours: 8:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

On site parking.


Langley Health Unit: (604) 539-2900

20389 Fraser Highway, Langley

Drop-off hours: 8:00 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free parking.


Maple Ridge Health Unit: (604) 476-7000

400-22470 Dewdney Trunk Rd, Maple Ridge

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:30 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays. 

Underground parking - first hour free but ticket required from meter


Mission Health Unit: (604) 814-5500

7298 Hurd Street, Mission - First Floor

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday as pre-arranged by phone call with Mission Public Health Nurse

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free parking in lot beside building - near Mission Memorial Hospital laboratory parking


Newport Health Unit: (604) 949-7200

200-205 Newport Drive, Port Moody

Tri-Cities Public Health 

(Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Port Moody)

Drop-off: Please call ahead for arrangements

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

2 hour street parking available at Newport Village or underground parking across street Brown's Restaurant


Newton Health Unit: (604) 592-2000

7337 137 Street, Surrey

Drop-off: 8:30 to 4:15 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Free parking on-site.


New Westminster Health Unit: (604) 777-6740

218-610 6th Street, New Westminster

Drop-off: 1:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday unless otherwise arranged by phone

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Above BMO, underground parking available from Princess Street or at corner of 6 Ave & 7 Street


North Surrey Health Unit: (604) 587-7900

220-10362 King George Boulevard, Surrey

Drop-off: 1:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday by pre-arranged appointment with North Surrey Breastfeeding Team.

Contact: Kathleen Ward-Driscoll 8:30-4:30 (604) 587-7930


White Rock Health Unit: (604) 542-4000

15476 Vine Street, White Rock

Drop-off: 9:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Limited pay parking in front of Berkeley Building.  Some street parking and pay parking at Peach Arch Hospital.


Island Health

Victoria General Hospital: (250) 727-4212

1 Hospital Way, Victoria

Drop-off milk in Neonatal ICU.  Please call before coming to hospital.  

Pay Parking available on site.


Northern Health

University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

(250) 565-2000

1475 Edmonton Ave, Parkwood Place, Prince George

Drop-off milk in Neonatal ICU.  Please call before coming to hospital. 

Pay Parking available on site.


Vancouver Coastal Health

BC Women's Hospital: (604) 875-3743

4500 Oak Street, Vancouver

Enter off Oak Street between 28th & 32nd Ave, turn right following road to Main Outpatient & Visitors entrance #93

The Milk Bank Reception Desk #1 is located in the main lobby across from the BC Women's Auxilliary Gift Shop.  

Drop-off hours: 8:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday.  

Please call before coming to hospital and for free parking instructions.

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.  


RavenSong Community Health Centre (604) 709-6400

2450 Ontario Street, Vancouver 

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Parking in front of building

(between 8th & Broadway), upper and lower level.


Evergreen Community Health Centre (604) 872-2511

3425 Crowley Dr, Vancouver 

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Parking in front of building or north side of Crowley Dr - passenger drop-off zone.  Near Joyce SkyTrain Station


North Shore Community Health Centre (604) 983-6700

2121 Marine Drive, West Vancouver

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays

Free parking available at West Vancouver Community Centre - above ground and underground.

Vancouver Coastal Health Clinic area off main level hallway.


Richmond Public Health (604) 233-3150

8100 Granville Avenue, Richmond

Drop-off hours: 9:00 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Use 10 minute Loading Zone parking area.  Pay Parking also available.


Squamish Health Unit (604) 892-2293

1140 Hunter Place, Squamish

Drop-off hours: 8:30 to 4:00 Monday to Friday

Closed weekends and Stat holidays.

Call ahead to confirm.





Frequently asked questions
Frequently asked questions
The following are some frequently asked questions about the BC Women’s Milk Bank and our processes. Have a question that’s not on the list? Please contact us.

The majority of donated milk is used to feed premature and sick babies who are at high risk for illnesses and infections. Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), a devastating bowel disease, is 10 times more common in premature babies fed formula compared with those babies fed human milk. The majority of mothers whose babies are born premature struggle to establish their milk production and keep it going well enough to meet their baby’s needs. Sometimes the mother is ill as well as her baby or may be on medications that don’t permit her to feed her milk to her baby. Human milk contains antibodies that fight infection as well as growth hormones which help babies grow and develop. Donating your extra milk is truly a gift that lasts a lifetime!

 
Please check donating milk to see if you meet the requirements to donate milk. If you do, please fill in this form or call us and leave a message at 604-875-3743. We will call you back as soon as possible. We  appreciate your call.
Before attempting to drop off milk to a milk collection depot, you must call the depot that you plan to use to confirm times and location for drop off. If you plan to courier, please call BC Women’s Hospital Provincial Milk Bank at 604-875-2424, local 7634 to confirm times and courier arrangements, before calling the courier.
 
If you live in Greater Vancouver, we can usually make arrangements to get the donor milk to our Bank. If greater distances are involved please contact us. Although we appreciate offers from mothers living in the United States, we cannot accept the milk because we cannot complete the screening process.
 

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide pumps or bottles.

 
The time it takes to collect milk varies. Some mothers find that if they pump 30 to 60 mls.(1-2 ounces) each day they have enough milk collected within several weeks.
 
Mothers need to be certain they meet the needs of their own infant first. Because of the cost of screening, we screen mothers only when they are able to donate at least 4-5 litres (150 oz.) of milk by their child's first birthday.The donation can be given in a number of donations or all at one time.
 

Human milk is pasteurized to ensure a safe product. Pasteurization maintains most of the anti-infective properties of fresh human milk.

 

Donors complete a short verbal and written questionnaire. Their doctor or midwife is consulted and blood tests are done at a local lab. The blood tests include: HIV-1, HIV-2, HTLV-1, HTVV-2, Syphilis, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.

 

Please wait 12 hours after having alcohol before pumping milk for the milk bank.

Please wait 12 hours after having alcohol before pumping milk for the milk bank. 

Unfortunately no. Medications taken regularly disqualify you as a donor.

 

Use of an asthma inhaler is acceptable for milk donation.

 

This exclusion is based on theoretical risk of CJD (mad cow disease). Your milk is fine for your own baby but just like blood donation, certain travels increase your theoretical risk of developing CJD. Because our milk is going to vulnerable infants, this exclusion criteria is applied.

 

Donors are healthy mothers who have completed the screening process. They are able to produce more milk than their babies need. 

 
Processing milk is a muti-step labour-intensive process. The steps include:
  • Donor screening
  • Delivery of milk: receiving, testing, logging & storing unprocessed milk in the freezers
  • Bacteriological screening: sample is sent for testing
  • Preparation for pasteurization: defrosting milk, scrubbing for processing, preparing the pasteurizers and milk
  • Pasteurizing: placing the bottles into the pasteurizer & removing on completion of a cycle
  • Quality control measures: temperature monitoring throughout process, drying, sealing and labeling bottles
  • Bacteriological testing: sending one bottle of milk from each batch for testing
  • Cleaning:  all equipment and preparation area
  • Documentation: completing all the recording of donors, number of bottles, batch numbers, pasteurization temperatures.
  • Storage: placing milk in appropriate freezer
  • Distribution: reviewing all completed lab reports and distributing processed tested milk to selected neonatal intensive care units and babies living in the community that require donor milk
 
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SOURCE: BC Women's Provincial Milk Bank ( )
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