Queensland Milk Bank

Breast milk increases the survival rate of premature babies by almost 70 per cent. Some mothers may not be able to breastfeed or express milk to feed their premature or sick newborn due to low supply or maternal illness. The next best thing is breast milk donated by other mothers.

Queensland Milk BankOur service

Queensland Milk Bank is the largest and fastest growing milk bank in the country, providing donated breastmilk to preterm or unwell babies right across Australia. Our service helps reduce the length of hospital stay and improves the survival rates of preterm babies.

We screen, collect, process and distribute pasteurised human milk to meet the specific medical and nutrition needs of seriously-ill newborns.

Since its inception, the Queensland Milk Bank has been donated over 4200 litres of milk from 400 donor mothers. The milk has improved outcomes of over 1400 premature babies.

Mums in the community can donate if:

  • you are breastfeeding or expressing for your own baby and you have an abundant supply of milk which is surplus to your baby’s needs
  • you are in good health.

A simple lifestyle screening tool is completed which looks at your general health. There are some certain medications that may exclude you from donating, but these are few and can be discussed with the milk bank staff.  Blood tests are required to ensure infections or viruses will not pass through the milk.

Frequently asked questions

Queensland Milk Bank is located at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Herston, Brisbane.  We were established in 2012 to provide pasteurised donor human milk to premature babies.  The breast milk is donated by breastfeeding mothers and undergoes screening and pasteurisation before being supplied to some of the tiniest humans around Queensland and interstate.

Breast milk increases the survival rate of premature babies. Some mothers may not be able to breastfeed or express milk to feed their premature or sick newborn babies due to low milk supply or maternal illness.  The next best thing is breast milk donated by other mothers.  Human donor milk is easily digested and empties into the stomach faster than formula.  Breastmilk has over 300 more nutritious ingredients than formula.

Mums in the community or with a baby in special care nursery can donate if:

  • you are breastfeeding or expressing for your own baby and you have an abundant supply of milk which is surplus to your baby’s needs
  • you are in good health

A simple lifestyle screening tool is completed which looks at your general health.  There are some medications that may exclude you from donating, but these are few and can be discussed with the milk bank staff.  Blood tests are required to ensure infection or viruses are not present that can be passed through the milk.

  • whether you have any chronic or acute medical conditions that require medical treatment
  • if you were born in the United Kingdom between 1980-1996 or lived there during this time for longer than six months
  • whether you smoke or use nicotine replacements
  • use illegal drugs
  • drink more than two standard drinks per day
  • drink more than three cups of coffee, tea or cola/stimulant drinks per day

We are grateful for any breastmilk that you can donate.

Breast milk production works on supply and demand.  The more breastmilk removed from your breast the more you will make. We suggest that if feeding your baby, you feed them first before expressing and fit it into your day.  If your baby is in hospital we suggest you speak to the Lactation Consultant or Nurse looking after your baby before donating.

No, there is no financial cost to donate milk. Once you are an approved donor, we will supply disposable equipment for you to use.

Blood tests

Before donating to the Queensland Milk Bank we require you to do a simple screening test, 5 minute phone interview and have blood tests.

The blood test form will be provided by Queensland Milk Bank staff and you are able to have it done at any pathology collection centre. All blood tests are bulk billed.

These diseases can be transferred via breastmilk so prior to donating we test for them.

You blood will be tested for:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 and 2 – this virus is responsible for AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) which is a collection of conditions that develops when the body’s immune system breaks down. It is possible to be positive for HIV without symptoms.
  • Hepatitis B – a virus that causes inflammation of the liver
  • Hepatitis C – another virus that causes inflammation of the liver
  • Human T-cell leukaemia virus (HL TV) I and II – rare viruses that are known to potentially cause rare cancers. These viruses are most common in Southern Japan, Caribbean, South American and south-east USA.
  • Syphilis – a sexually transmitted bacterial infection

If you have a positive result for any of these conditions your GP will be notified to provide support and counselling.

Expressing, storage and transport

Expressing milk

Our breasts are taught how much to make by the regular removal of milk.  The more frequently you remove milk from your breasts, especially in the first few days and weeks, the more milk you will make and the greater benefit your long-term supply will have.

Expressing equipment

  • You can simply use your hands to express but women often rent or buy a pump. Your choice of pump will depend on your reasons for expressing and your circumstances.
  • Regular showering is sufficient cleansing for the breasts when you are expressing milk
  • Hand washing before expressing or handling expressing equipment or milk is important
  • Use clean pump kits and bottles.
  • Equipment is cleaned by rinsing with cold water after use to remove residue milk, washing with hot soapy water and rinsing. Drip dry on a clean paper towel. Alternatively, pieces can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Storage containers for milk

Bottles are ideal for storage and the milk bank will supply bottles on request.  Some mothers may prefer to collect their milk in a breastmilk storage bag.  These bags can decrease the available fat in breastmilk so if possible, we ask you to use the bottles for donation.  We do not accept milk in plastic sandwich bags as they tear easily on handling.

Labelling of milk containers

Containers of breastmilk need to be clearly labelled with your name and date of birth.  We also ask you to put the date that you expressed on the container.  The Queensland Milk Bank will supply labels when required

Storage

Expressed breastmilk can be stored in the fridge for up to 48hours before being moved to the freezer.  You can add fresh breastmilk to a container in the fridge once it has cooled down; fill containers till they are ¾ full.  Expressed breastmilk is best stored in the body of the refrigerator and not in the door as the temperature varies with the door opening and closing.  The freezer temperature should be set to keep ice cream hard.  It may be helpful to store the milk in a box or container with a lid.

Transport

Frozen expressed breastmilk is transported in an insulated bag or esky.  The bag/esky will be packed to limit the empty air spaces.  Extra space can be filled with frozen gel packs and paper towelling.  Avoid using ice cubes as the temperature will be higher than the frozen milk and will increase the rate of thawing.

Further information on expressing

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Contact us

Location: Level 6, Ned Hanlon Building
Phone: (07) 3646 0542
Email:
Open: Monday-Friday 6.45am-3.15pm
Media enquiries: metronorthnews@health.qld.gov.au

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Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons
It was International Day of the Midwife this week! To keep the celebrations rolling, here’s a little shout out to the midwives we work closely with at the QLD Milk Bank.

From #RBWH, #CabooltureHospital, #Redcliffe Hospital and the Gold Coast University Hospital - GCUH, these wonderful midwives make sure our milk gets to the babies who need it most and ensure families who receive our donations are supported in the process. 

Thank you for everything you do. We’d be simply lost without you!

8 May 2020

It was International Day of the Midwife this week! To keep the celebrations rolling, here’s a little shout out to the midwives we work closely with at the QLD Milk Bank.

From #RBWH, #CabooltureHospital, #Redcliffe Hospital and the Gold Coast University Hospital - GCUH, these wonderful midwives make sure our milk gets to the babies who need it most and ensure families who receive our donations are supported in the process.

Thank you for everything you do. We’d be simply lost without you!
... See MoreSee Less

Sadly, due to social distancing restrictions, the annual RBWH Baby Memorial Service for early pregnancy loss and Interment of Ashes will be postponed until we are able to gather together again to remember and honour our little ones. 

All ashes received throughout the year will be in safe keeping until that time and treated with utmost care and respect. We acknowledge the sadness and grief that parents will be experiencing and welcome anyone who requires compassionate support to call the RBWH Chaplaincy Service on 3646 7988. 

We will let you know when a future date is possible.

14 April 2020

Sadly, due to social distancing restrictions, the annual RBWH Baby Memorial Service for early pregnancy loss and Interment of Ashes will be postponed until we are able to gather together again to remember and honour our little ones.

All ashes received throughout the year will be in safe keeping until that time and treated with utmost care and respect. We acknowledge the sadness and grief that parents will be experiencing and welcome anyone who requires compassionate support to call the RBWH Chaplaincy Service on 3646 7988.

We will let you know when a future date is possible.
... See MoreSee Less

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, we’ve been receiving some questions about donating.

Our process remains the same during this time. We are unable to accept milk if you are unwell and if you test positive to COVID-19, until cleared by a medical professional. If you are already one of our amazing donors, please contact us if you become unwell. 

However, if you are in good health AND currently breastfeeding or expressing with an abundant supply of milk, surplus to your babys needs, wed love to hear from you! 

Its particularly important we keep up our supplies during this time. So yes, please keep the donations coming if you meet the criteria for donating. Find out more information here: https://metronorth.health.qld.gov.au/rbwh/healthcare-services/milk-bank

From screening, collecting, pasteurising and distributing, you can be sure our processes are robust and meet the required standards for safe milk and the medical and nutritional needs of our unwell newborns.

19 March 2020

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, we’ve been receiving some questions about donating.

Our process remains the same during this time. We are unable to accept milk if you are unwell and if you test positive to COVID-19, until cleared by a medical professional. If you are already one of our amazing donors, please contact us if you become unwell.

However, if you are in good health AND currently breastfeeding or expressing with an abundant supply of milk, surplus to your baby's needs, we'd love to hear from you!

It's particularly important we keep up our supplies during this time. So yes, please keep the donations coming if you meet the criteria for donating. Find out more information here: metronorth.health.qld.gov.au/rbwh/healthcare-services/milk-bank

From screening, collecting, pasteurising and distributing, you can be sure our processes are robust and meet the required standards for safe milk and the medical and nutritional needs of our unwell newborns.
... See MoreSee Less

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