At the Hearts Milk Bank (HMB) we believe that every bereaved family should be given professional support and accurate information to help them make decisions about lactation and their breastmilk. This includes enabling mothers to choose whether to donate their milk. Some mothers find donating milk after the loss of their baby to be a comfort, representing as it does, a gift from both to other families and their babies. It can be viewed as a life-saving gift in memory of their baby. The impact of this can be very profound.
Donating milk is a very personal decision and this option does not suit everyone. Our team works closely with hospitals to make sure bereaved families are aware of all of their options regarding their stored milk and their lactation, and that they are supported to make the choices that are right for them.
This leaflet has more information about lactation support following the loss of your baby and may help you in making a decision:
Donated milk is delivered to your nearest milk bank, where it is specially heat treated (pasteurised). This milk is then stored in specialist freezers at the milk bank and delivered to neonatal intensive care units to help another family.
This can be a one-off donation of an expressed supply you already have frozen, or you may want to continue to make milk to donate. Milk bank staff will be able to talk you through the process of donating and give you further information on what is involved.
There are a few exclusions to donating milk and each milk bank can discuss these with you. Exclusions may include:
• Smoking or use of nicotine replacement products
• Some medications
If for any reason your milk cannot be used for premature infants, it might be possible to donate for our community programme or for research purposes. The milk bank team can guide you through options and opportunities to use your milk for memory making.
You can find your nearest milk bank on the UK Association for Milk Banking website.
The snowdrop flower – also known as the ‘milk flower’- is the Human Milk Foundation’s emblem. This beautiful flower has been chosen by bereaved mothers as a symbol of hope and love. We honour and thank every one of our bereaved milk donors by planting a snowdrop flower outside the milk bank and in future Milk Woods. Snowdrop donors are at the very heart of our work and our charity.
This section will be updated regularly as more information and support becomes available.
Live chat: via the website
0800 02 888 40
This charity supports bereaved parents and their families, and also operates a helpline:
Their confidential freephone helpline is open every day all year for anyone affected by the death of a child. Their number and opening times are on their website:
0808 164 3332
0808 802 6868
Life After Loss is a charity based in Northern Ireland to help anyone affected by the loss of a baby there and elsewhere in the UK. They provide support and information to those who have been through the death of a baby at any stage of pregnancy, or early in life, for any reason.