Most mothers of newborns produce enough milk to provide all of the nutrients their babies require. But when a baby arrives early, the mother's milk may be delayed.

When baby's own mothers are ill or absent an alternative source of breast milk is necessary. Donor bank milk provides the answer; healthy breastfeeding mothers can donate their milk to these vulnerable infants.

Premature and sick infants are most at risk in acquiring additional illnesses and compromised immune systems, should they not receive breast milk.

What is a milk bank?

A donor milk bank is a service that screens, collects, processes and distributes human breast milk.

Who can donate?

Any mother who is breastfeeding her baby can donate her breast milk to a milk bank. She will need to undergo an HIV test and complete a health screening form which asks about common lifestyle factors.

Who can receive donated milk?

Vulnerable babies without access to their own mother's breast milk can receive donor breast milk. These vulnerable infants are premature infants, infants who's mothers are too sick, and infants who have been abandoned. They need breast milk because premature infants benefit from the superior nutritional and immunological properties of breast milk. It helps sick and vulnerable babies recover and grow more quickly. Breast milk also reduces the incidence of potentially fatal infections in premature infants.

Importance of breastfeeding

From the start
Spending time skin to skin with your new born baby helps bonding and breastfeeding. The first milk called colostrum is like your baby's first immunisation. The small quantities will increase when you feed your baby often. It should not be painful when your baby latches and suckles. Painful nipples are due to poor latching and can be corrected by a good latch.

Facts about breastfeeding

  • The more you feed your baby the more breast milk you will produce.

  • Breastfeeding is healthy for you and your baby. Your baby is less likely to get diarrhoea, chest, ear and other infections.

  • Your baby will have less allergies and chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

  • Breastfeeding provides your baby with the nutrition for ideal brain development.

  • Painful breastfeeding is not normal, ask for help on how to get your baby to latch properly.

  • Breastfeeding also helps you and your baby to get closer – physically and emotionally. So while your baby is feeding, the bond between you can grow stronger
  • Breast milk is the only food your baby needs for the first 6 months of life. No other food or drink, even water is needed during this time!

  • When your baby is 6 months old you can start to introduce solids, but carry on breastfeeding until your baby is at least 2 years old. Your baby will be strong and healthy.

How to position and latch your baby

  1. Hug your baby towards you, avoid pushing his head towards the breast.

  2. Make sure your baby's head and body are facing you.

  3. Allow the baby’s head to tip slightly backwards so that the chin is tucked into the breast.

  4. When he/she opens his/her mouth, allow him/her to take a large portion of the nipple and breast into his/her mouth.

  5. Allow him/her to feed for as long as he/she wants.

  6. Finally, don't forget that if you are at ease, and comfortable, then your baby will be more relaxed and happy too!

How do I know my baby is getting enough breast milk?

Your baby will be content and satisfied after feeds.

  • Your baby will feed about 8 to 10 times in 24 hours.
Your baby should be healthy and gaining weight.

  • Your breasts and nipples should not be sore.

  • After the first few days, your baby should have at least six wet nappies a day.

Top tips

  • You will always have a good milk supply if your baby is latching well and you are feeding frequently.

  • The more you breastfeed your baby the more milk you will produce. Giving other food or drink will reduce your milk supply.

  • You don't have to stop breastfeeding because you go back to work – you can express and keep your milk in the fridge for at least 24 hours or your freezer for up to 4 months.

  • Breastfeeding can take time to be established. Find help from your local clinic or from the recommended contacts given.

Where can you find a milk bank?

South African Breast Milk Reserve

011 492 1209  -

Milk Matters

021 659 5599  -