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to not donate breast milk because hospital have made it too complicated

(44 Posts)
ontheedgeofwhatever Thu 27-Sep-12 11:35:19

When I had DD I donated a lot of breast milk to the milk bank and the hospital sent someone out to pick it up when I phoned them to arrange it. I provided the pump, the stereliser,freezer space and obviously milk they also did the relevent blood tests at home and gave me little storage bottles. there were no problems

So.... now DS is 8 weeks old and I've properly established breast feeding and have loads to spare I've called them up again only to be told they will post out the bottles and when I've collected and stored a minimum of 2.5 litres I should telephone them for a form then go to my doctor and have the blood sample taken. I should then bring the milk AND the blood in a cool bag to the hospital between the hours of 9-12 on Tuesday or Thursday only. they also want me to buy a thermometer and measure and record my freezer temperature every morning and evening and return the sheets with the milk / blood.

I don't drive and its a £16 round taxi trip to the hospital or about an hour each way by bus. AIBU to think they've made it far to complicated and not donate even though I feel I should?

Narked Thu 27-Sep-12 11:43:54

Cut backs sad

drjohnsonscat Thu 27-Sep-12 11:46:02

oh lordy. No that's not going to happen. Who came up with that load of rubbish? Good for you for even contemplating it <expressing hater> but that really is OTT. They should be so grateful they should be sending the Secretary of State for Health round personally to collect it on a silver tray.

Birdsgottafly Thu 27-Sep-12 11:47:21

This has probably been decided by a manager, looking at it from a cost POV and treating it like you would any commodity.

I have family who are long term bank workers/manager etc and a lot of their friends who were made redundant are know working for the NHS, as 'waste management consultants'.

There are will be lots of mums in your postition and milk donations will drop.


BonaDea Thu 27-Sep-12 11:49:04

YANBU. You have a little baby to look after and don't drive - this is going to cost you money and literally hours of time. It's crazy and I don't think you are being unreasonable at all.

It is so so sad because this is - obviously and rightly - going to put a lot of people off helping. There are cut backs and there are cutbacks and this is clearly not going to help anyone.

You might consider flagging this issue by email to NCT or La Leche League - it might be exactly the type of issue they would like to know about so that they can campaign on and / or provide folks with support to make it easier.

TheDogDidIt Thu 27-Sep-12 11:49:08

That sounds like a complete and utter faff, especially for someone with a baby. Agree that donations will drop, and that's a huge pity. But it won't be the fault/responsibility of the donors when that happens, and YANBU in the slightest.

TroublesomeEx Thu 27-Sep-12 11:50:32


I enquired about donating when DD was born (I had an abundance of the stuff). But I was completely put off by them telling me about the unnecessarily convoluted/hugely inconvenient process and then topped it off by saying that the BM was UHT and ended up having no benefit over formula.

So I didn't bother. sad

OrangeHorraceTheGoldenOtter Thu 27-Sep-12 14:16:17

YANBU at all! That's really shit sad. Secconding letting LLL or NCT know.

everybodywalkthedinosaur Thu 27-Sep-12 14:20:01

What area of the country are you in? I'm donating at the moment, they come and collect it, and it couldn't be easier. I'm doing it through Chester milk bank, and live in Shropshire and don't drive so wouldn't have been able to do it otherwise! Their driver collected from me on his way back from Cardiff, so may be worth enquiring? They couldn't have been more helpful.

OHforDUCKScake Thu 27-Sep-12 14:20:26

Exactly the same reasons as me. In all I had over 50 bags of breastmilk in my freezer and they all went to waste eventually.

Mostly because I called them when ds was nearly 5 months and they said my milk was top harsh for new born/prem stomachs because it was milk made for a 5 month old.

Yet Ive spoken to countless women who carried on donating way past 5 months.

ReallyTired Thu 27-Sep-12 14:25:03

I donated milk with ds ten years ago and we had none of this hassle. Its shocking the hospital aren't covering your costs. They don't seem to understand that you are offering an amazing gift.

I can understand why they want to make sure that your freezer is cold enough, but there has to be a balance or risk versus hassle factor. All the milk is pasturised anyway.

Although breastmilk is pasturised its kinder on the gut than formula. It substantially increases the chances of little premies surviving.

GOLDENLiquidAngel Thu 27-Sep-12 14:43:38

YANBU. That is a complete faff and I can see that putting many donors off sad If you still want to donate have you looked into Human Milk 4 Human Babies on Facebook? There might be a mum local to you with a baby in need of breastmilk who doesn't meet the criteria for banked milk on prescription who would be so grateful for a donation. They may well be willing to provide boxes and postage to ship the milk, or to meet you and pick it up themselves, as well as providing storage bags

everydropcounts Thu 27-Sep-12 15:41:12

Dear 'On the edge'
Hope you are happy to receive some info from the inside as it were....
I'm not surprised you're fed up! Please email with your postcode and I'll see what I can do to enable you to donate more easily including with a collection service. UKAMB (UK Association for Milk Banking - Every Drop Counts) doesn't run any milk banks and isn't responsible for any individual milk bank actions or policies but on behalf of UKAMB I will always do what I can to enable a mother to donate.
However, these decisions and policy changes won't have been made by the milk bank staff in isolation. Some of it may be due to misguided NHS cuts imposed from on high ... but in part it is also likely to be as a result of the fact that so many more mothers volunteer to donate their milk these days and milk bank staff can be inundated with requests from mothers offering their milk. So much so that if they don't introduce some restrictions there would be no time left to safely deal with all the milk in the bank and no freezer space to store it all. I know it sounds crazy but for some milk banks the supply of donated breastmilk far outstrips the volumes needed on the local neonatal unit and the hospital paying for the milk bank can't afford to be funding a service for every other hospital in the region. So milk banks end up restricting donors and having to cut back on things that were once part of the service. If the hospitals without milk banks were more willing to help fund and staff the milk banks that already exist the overall costs would come down and the whole milk banking service would become much more efficient. The most expensive part of a milk bank's costs are the staff salaries but even so most currently operate with one or less full time person. It costs less than £20 per day to feed most premature infants with donor milk and yet there is still this myth that it is a very expensive option (it costs more than £1600 a day to look after a baby in intensive care and donor milk helps to reduce the need for intensive care as babies tolerate feeds better and are less likely to develop severe illnesses.)
Some of the info others have been given as a reason for not accepting their milk sounds ill informed to me (too harsh for the baby's stomach is nonsense.) There are reasons why milk banks prefer to use their limited resources on recruiting mothers with younger babies but that isn't one of them. As a general message to anyone who is unhappy with any aspect of donating breastmilk through a UK milk bank - message me via the UKAMB FB page or email and I or one of the other UKAMB supporters will do what we can to help. Thanks to everyone for their support for milk banking and if you would like to support UKAMB please visit the website Thousands of premature and sick babies benefit every year from donated breastmilk and UKAMB is the charity that has done the most to ensure this happens.

FutureNannyOgg Thu 27-Sep-12 15:47:23

I enquired about donation recently, I have oversupply and DS2 putting on nearly a pound a week!

But I can't because I am not in the right postcode for their collection. I had offered to deliver, but their policy is to send a courier, and I am outside their collection zone. Such a shame, I could easily donate 30-50oz a week, and have no reason to build up a stash for myself because I WAH and have no one to leave DS with if I had reason to.

GotMyGoat Thu 27-Sep-12 16:24:51

Yep, i had this problem. Don't have a milkbank in my town, but they said once i built up a stash i could take it to my nearest hospital and they would try and get it on a same day van.

My nearest hospital is still a far way away and i don't drive so they've never received a drop out if me sad

lunar1 Thu 27-Sep-12 16:31:01

When I tried to donate they made it really over complicated too. It also would have cost me a fortune.

lljkk Thu 27-Sep-12 16:35:15

YANBU if you think it's too much hassle, I don't blame you.
But I was thinking about practical solutions:

they will post out the bottles


when I've collected and stored a minimum of 2.5 litres

That's 10-20 days of donations, probably? Not too much if you have a standard size freezer.

I should telephone them for a form then go to my doctor and have the blood sample taken. I should then bring the milk AND the blood in a cool bag to the hospital between the hours of 9-12 on Tuesday or Thursday only.

Could the GP get the sample tested & send the results onto them, I think that's what mine did. Is this supposed to be a fresh or frozen sample?

they also want me to buy a thermometer

Cheap enough, no?

measure and record my freezer temperature every morning and evening

Okay, I'll give you credit for that being utterly pants; you could make up the numbers for all they knew!! And they pasteurise it anyway, as long as it seems to keep things at below 0 temp, that should be good enough, no?

I don't drive and its a £16 round taxi trip to the hospital

Could someone courier it or deliver it for you instead? Friend used to drive my milk to a hospital 1.5 hours away.

everydropcounts Thu 27-Sep-12 23:44:44

Quick additional point - the temperature recording of the freezer isn't because of bacteria multiplying. As long as the milk is frozen that isn't going to happen and you wouldn't need to record the temp to know that the milk was frozen. It's to do with the breakdown of fats that happens naturally in breastmilk but is slowed down the colder the milk is. At minus 18 to minus 20 or below this auto oxidation process is slow enough for the milk to be safely stored for 3 months before it is pasteurised in the milk bank. If the temp is only say minus 10 the fats will break down faster, release free fatty acids and this can cause the milk to start to smell and taste rancid. It happens also for some mums as a result of too much lipase in the milk but this auto oxidation is different and happens in all milk eventually. The nasty taste is not dangerous but it isn't nice for the little babies! Hence the daily temperature checks. And milk banks trust the mothers to give us the correct temperatures because we know they want to help premature babies and not harm them. Milk banks should explain this to their donors....I'm going to go and add it now to the UKAMB Facebook page!

2MumsAreBetterThan1 Fri 28-Sep-12 00:18:30

I am an ex smoker who wants to donate breastmilk. I know you cannot donate if you smoke but no one can tell me how long you have to be a non smoker before donating.

Been trying to find the answer for this 3 months now and the milk bank does not know.

everydropcounts Fri 28-Sep-12 07:26:47

If you've stopped and have no intention of starting again then you can donate now. The only provisos would be that you are not using nicotine replacement. Otherwise good luck with staying stopped (from an ex smoker who knows how hard it is) and good luck with becoming a donor. Any further queries about it - contact me via

IvanaHumpalot Fri 28-Sep-12 07:48:11

Re the transport - is there a voluntary organisation that takes people to and from the hospital, could they drop off the milk? Seems such a shame to let it go to waste.

TheLightPassenger Fri 28-Sep-12 07:53:17

yanbu. they should be collecting the milk, and whoever takes the blood sample should deal with sending it to the lab to be tested.

TheFowlAndThePussycat Fri 28-Sep-12 08:04:22

See, I find this particularly annoying because when my dd and I were both in intensive care after her birth (3 yrs ago), there was not enough donated milk for her to have any. Have things changed so much in 3 years?

I would definately call your local NCT, I know for sure that ours collect and deliver the milk. Also DH bought a thermometer for our freezer (don't ask me why!) for a couple of quid from Lakeland I think, so you could probably get one via their website.

I totally understand why you are put off though. Surely if hospitals carry on like this they'll be back to the opposite problem of no milk again sad.

ontheedgeofwhatever Fri 28-Sep-12 08:10:10

Thank you for all the suggestions and explanations.

I've emailed everydropcounts and look forward to hearing from her. Hopefully we can sort out a way to deal with it. I know people whose babies have had donor milk so I know how much difference it can make - just wish it wasn't such a faff getting it tothem

PeggyCarter Fri 28-Sep-12 08:11:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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