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Below, you will find answers to commonly asked questions. Click each item to expand the Q&A for each section.

Breast Milk Donors


Q: Must I live near Cary, North Caroina to donate?

No! Our donors live all over the east coast and beyond! Start the donor application process.

Minimum Donation

Q: What is the minimum donation you will take?

It depends on if you are a local or out-of-town donor.
Local Donors: If you are willing to deliver your milk at a drop-off location, the minimum first donation is 100 ounces. After your first donation, you may drop off any amount you wish.
Out-of-Town Donors: We ask out of town donors to send at least 200 ounces per shipment to ensure milk stays frozen during overnight shipment, which is paid for by the milk bank.
Bereaved Donors: There is no minimum donation amount for bereaved donors.
Start the donor application process.


Q: What medications exclude me from becoming a donor?

Medication guidelines protect the fragile infants we serve. Please contact us directly at 919-350-8599 to see if your medications qualify.

Alcoholic Beverages 

Q: May I drink alcohol if I become a donor?

Yes. However, there are wait times for pumping and saving milk for the milk bank.

Milk Expiration

Q: How old can the milk be?

Milk must be less than six months old at the time of donation if it has been stored in a regular freezer. It should be no more than eight months old if stored in a deep freezer. We accept milk pumped for up to two years after delivery.


Q: How do I store the milk?

Milk must be stored in single-use breast milk storage bags or containers. Each container or bag must be labeled with the date the milk was collected. Milk must be stored away from the freezer door.

We encourage you to fill your milk bags at or below fill line and store your milk as flat as possible when freezing. If you need additional milk storage bags to accomplish this, please let us know, and we will be happy to provide you with them. View this breast milk storage video to see how to store your milk.

Pumping Guidelines

Q: Are there special guidelines for pumping?

Yes, we have specific sanitation guidelines to ensure safe transfer to the fragile babies we serve.

  • Before each pumping, wash your hands and nails thoroughly with warm soapy water for 30 seconds. Rinse well and dry with a clean towel. Do not handle your pump kit parts until you have washed your hands.
  • Do not fill containers past the greatest measurement printed on the bag or container; breast milk expands as it freezes and bags leak when they are over filled.
  • We can only accept complete pumpings. Foremilk pumpings and drip milk (Haakaa) are not eligible for donation.


Q: Will I receive compensation for milk donation?

Since we are a non-profit Milk Bank, we cannot provide compensation for milk donations. We, however, do cover the cost of donor screening and milk shipments. We also provide breast milk storage bags as needed. Most importantly, you will reap the satisfaction in knowing that you have helped a baby in need.

Blood Test

Q: For what diseases will you test my blood?

To ensure the safety of our fragile babies, we will test your blood for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HTLV & Syphilis.

Frozen Milk

Q: Do you accept frozen milk?

Yes. In fact, ONLY frozen milk is accepted. Depending on the results of your screening, we may be able to accept milk collected and frozen prior to contacting the milk bank. To determine if your milk qualifies, select Donate Your Milk Now to initiate the screening process.


Milk Order

Q: How do we place a milk order for our NICU?

To place an order, please call mothersmilkbank@wakemed.org or fax your order to 919-350-8923. Orders must contain a purchase order number, hospital name, shipping address, amount desired and buyer contact information.

Wait Time

Q: How long does it take to receive milk once we place the order?

Milk is shipped out Monday through Thursday via FedEx. If your order is received by noon, it will be delivered to your location by 10:30 a.m. the next day.



Q: How long has the WakeMed Mothers' Milk Bank been in operation?

WakeMed Mothers’ Milk Bank has been screening donors and collecting, processing and distributing pasteurized donor milk since 1985. We are a founding member of the Human Milk Bank Association of North America (HMBANA.org.)

Quality and Safety

Q: How do you ensure the quality and safety of the donated milk?

Potential donors must pass a phone interview, written interview, physician sign off and blood testing. Only healthy individuals who meet our strict guidelines are eligible to donate. Once approved, donors can ship or drop off their frozen milk for donation. Donations are thawed, pooled together, heat treated to kill bacteria and viruses and tested prior to dispensation in order to protect the fragile infants we serve.


Q: Is there an accrediting body that provides standards for milk donation?

Yes. We are accredited by the Human Milk Bank Association of North America (HMBANA). HMBANA believes in a world where all infants have access to human milk through support of breastfeeding and use of pasteurized donor human milk. They provide evidence-based standards and guidelines for all milk bank operations and regularly inspect our milk bank.


Q: Why is the milk pasteurized?

Milk is pasteurized to remove any harmful viruses and bacteria. Nutrients and immune factors are well preserved during pasteurization. Pasteurization is required due to the vulnerable population served by the milk bank. The American Academy of Pediatrics supports the use of pasteurized donor human milk for infants who are not able to receive the milk from their mothers.


Q: What are the benefits of human milk?

In the absence of the mother’s own milk, donor milk offers the benefits of human milk for the infant, including optimal nutrition, easy digestibility and protection against disease and infection. Donor milk is viewed as a medication given it can reduce many severe complications of prematurity and helps these fragile babies grow, develop and thrive. It is considered a lifesaving medication for these high risk babies. Donor milk is extremely safe and better tolerated than cow-milk based diets (formula).