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Donating Milk

Without our very special donors, we could not provide donor milk to our fragile recipients. We appreciate the effort and support this group provides to the milk bank.

Each of our donors must complete a screening process before we can accept and utilize their special gift of human milk. Depending on the number of prospective donors who have contacted us, it may take us a week or two to get back to you.

Donor Screening

Due to the cost of completing the screening process, in particular the blood tests, we ask prospective donors to express and store at least 75 ounces to ensure that you are able to donate to the bank before money is spent on blood screening. Check the screening criteria to ensure you qualify as a donor before you begin expressing for the milk bank.

If you already have milk in the freezer and you qualify as a donor, count how much milk you have. When you have close to 75 ounces please contact us.

Watch our how-to video to become a donor.

(If you answer “yes” to all of the below questions, please fill out this form and FAX to (604) 875-2371or email to mbscreening@cw.bc.ca.

Please note that the internet a secure communications channel and any personal information you include about yourself may be intercepted and viewed during transfer.  To reduce your privacy risk, do not include sensitive personal medical information.

You most likely can donate milk if you are:
  • In good general health and your baby is up to 18 months old (bereaved donors are also accepted)
  • Have more breastmilk than you need for your own baby. We ask that each mother donate at least 4.2 litres (150 ounces) of milk over a period of time. This helps to cover the costs of screening.
  • In the sad situation where a baby dies, some mothers choose to donate milk in honour of their child. BC Women’s accepts milk from bereaved donors. Any amount of appropriately stored milk is accepted, assuming the donor has completed the screening process.
  • Willing to have a blood test to rule out certain diseases
  • Not taking medications, including antidepressants and galactagogues (medications that increase milk production), or herbal supplements. Progestin-only birth control pills, thyroid replacement hormones, human insulin, prenatal vitamins, iron or calcium are acceptable.
  • Able to particpate in our screening process without the use of an English language interpreter (you speak English)
  • Living in Canada
  • Able to drop off your frozen milk at BC Women’s Hospital or a milk collection depot or pay to have your milk shipped to the BC Women’s Hospital (check with the Milk Bank as there are areas of BC where shipping to the Milk Bank may be covered)

 

 
Even though your own milk is perfect for your own baby, certain things can disqualify you as a donor. The most common reasons for disqualification are:
  • Taking any medication on a regular basis. This includes antidepressants and galactologues (medications that increase milk production). EXCEPTIONS: You can donate if you are taking human insulin, thyroid replacement hormones, progestin only birth control pills, nasal sprays, topical treatments, eye drops, iron or vitamins (at regular doses)
  • Smoking or use of tobacco products
  • Testing positive for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), HTLV (Human T-lymphotropic Virus), hepatitis B or C, or syphilis
  • If you are risk for HIV, or your partner is at risk for HIV
  • Your child is older than one year of age. We only take donor milk for the first year postpartum currently
  • Living or traveling in certain countries including: More than 3 months in France or the United Kingdom between 1980-1996 AND/OR a total of five years in Western Europe or Saudi Arabia since 1980 (certain countries like the Ukraine and Russia do NOT exclude donation so check with us if you have questions)
  • Used illegal drugs in the last five years
Donor Screening
Donor screening begins with the initial contact in person or by phone. The screening nurse reads you a list of lifestyle screening questions, provides general information and answers questions. If there are no issues, we send you a set of screening forms by mail, fax or email. These forms include a medical history sheet which confirms some of the information verbally covered over the phone, consent to contact your physician or midwife, information on blood screening and an agreement to donate.

After you return the forms, we review them and send your physician/midwife a request for information and the blood work requisition you will require. Blood tests will be ordered by your physician or midwife and can be done at your local community blood lab. The cost of the blood work is covered by the provincial health plan. Though some of the blood tests are the same ones done in pregnancy (HIV, syphilis, and hepatitis) they must be repeated for milk donation. In addition, HTLV is also done. Results are sent to your physician/midwife and the Milk Bank. Once we receive your blood tests results, you are contacted about getting your milk to the Milk Bank.

These questions will be asked when you call the Milk Bank. If you answer yes to some of these questions it does NOT exclude donation but requires further discussion with the Milk Bank screener.


  • Have you been told that you cannot give blood for a medical reason unless the reason was low body weight, pregnancy or breastfeeding?
  • In the last 12 months have you or your partner had a blood transfusion, blood products, an organ or tissue transplant, an accidental hypodermic needle stick, ear or body piercing, acupuncture or electrolysis with non sterile needles?
  • Have you ever received human pituitary growth hormone, a dura matter or brain covering graft, bovine insulin or had intimate contact with someone with Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease (CJD)? Have you had hepatitis or in the last 12 months had close contact with someone with viral hepatitis?
  • Within the last 12 months have you been exposed to hepatitis A or B or received a gamma globulin shot?
  • Within the last 12 months have you or your sexual partner been at risk for HIV, HTLV, or hepatitis including hemophiliacs or those with multiple sexual partners or anyone who uses a needle for illegal or non prescription drugs?
  • Are you taking mega doses of herbal supplements, or vitamins containing herbal supplements (that is 20 times greater than the RDA)
  • Have you a chronic infection like TB, a chronic health condition or a history of leukemia, lymphoma or other cancers in the last five years?
Collecting & Storing
How to collect and store your milk for donation

These hints will help to keep your milk free of contaminants and safe for other babies. (Also available in PDF and a step-by-step video.)

1. Find one time of day to express for milk donation. This helps you maintain your milk supply and keep comfortable.

2. Wash your hands well before you pump or express milk. Dry your hands with a clean paper towel.

3. Express milk by hand, hand pump or electric pump. Use clean equipment:

  • Rinse used parts with cold water. Wash all pump parts in hot, soapy water and rinse well with hot water.
  • Dry with clean paper towel or leave to air dry. Store dry equipment in zip lock bag (leave open) in fridge.
  • Disinfect clean pump parts at least once daily by boiling for five minutes or washing in the top rack of the dishwasher.

4. Refrigerate your milk as soon as possible in one of the following:

  • Clean, rigid plastic bottles with lids
  • Milk storage bags laid flat (check prices online as they vary)
  • Clean, rigid glass bottles with lids (cleaned with hot soapy water or in the dishwasher).

Do not touch inside the clean container or clean lids.

Use a new container each time you express milk. Do not layer milk (add to a bottle that you have already expressed milk into).

Allow 1 inch of space in containers as milk expands when it freezes.

Please note we cannot return bottles or containers to you.

Use a permanent marker and mark your name, date of expression and amount of milk (oz or ml) on the flap of the milk bag or on a sticky tape that you place on the milk container. DO NOT write directly on the milk container.

Freeze within 24 hours. For most consistent temperature, store milk at back of freezer.

Human milk can be kept in a refrigerator freezer [-16oC (40F)] up to 6 months and in a deep freeze for 12 months. Please note it is important to send to the Milk Bank as soon as possible as milk we process expires one year from the date pumped.

5. Caution! If you are unsure about saving milk, save it, but note your question on the container(s). Notify the milk bank immediately regarding any changes in your health, health behaviour or risk factors for disease.

Wait to pump milk for 12 hours after:

  • Drinking alcohol
  • Taking occasional medication (including herbs such as Mother's Milk Tea).

6. Call the Provincial Milk Bank at BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre (604-875-2282) to ask about donating your milk if:

  • Your baby or someone at home is sick
  • You have developed mastitis or a yeast infection on your nipples, your baby has thrush, or you have a fever blister (your milk is fine for your baby)
  • You get vaccinated
  • You or your partner gets a tattoo
  • You have any other questions

You may wish to keep expressing your milk until your questions are answered. This maintains your supply and keeps your breasts comfortable.

Delivery to Milk Bank

By Courier

If you plan to courier milk to BC Women's Hospital, please call the Provincial Milk Bank at 604-875-2424, local 7634 to confirm times and courier arrangements, before calling the courier. If you use a courier, it will usually be at your own expense. Check with the Milk Bank as there are areas of BC where shipping may be covered.


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.

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.

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