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Milk Depot

When mothers are unable to produce enough breast milk for their babies, donor milk can provide the important nutrients for babies to grow and thrive. Astera Health’s new milk depot helps make it possible and convenient for mothers with extra milk to share the gift with infants in need.

What is a Milk Depot?

Human milk is vitally important for premature and sick babies, who are more vulnerable to infections if they are fed formula. However, sometimes a mother can’t produce enough milk to feed her baby. There are a number of reasons why this might be, but when it happens, donor milk can provide the benefits necessary to help babies grow and thrive. It can also help bridge the gap until the mother is capable of producing enough on her own. Research from the United States Food and Drug Administration shows that preterm babies fed human milk from screened donors have fewer infections, less severe complications and shorter hospitalizations, allowing families to be reunited sooner.

Astera recently partnered with the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies to offer a breast milk depot, making it possible for mothers with extra breast milk to share the gift with an infant in need.

Safety comes first when donating milk. That’s why every donating mother is screened by a phone interview, written application and blood tests prior to donation. All tests are free for the mother.

  • To sign up to be a donor, contact the Minnesota Milk Bank for Babies at, email or call 763-546-8051.
  • Complete a verbal screening. You will speak to the donor coordinator and answer some health and lifestyle questions. You will talk about your diet, pump patterns and overall health.
  • Complete a written screening form. All donors will complete a written application that asks for details about their health and household. Once the completed documents are signed and received, MMBB will contact your provider for approval.
  • MMBB will cover the cost of blood testing and arrange this for you. You may have the test done at AH. Call 218-631-3510 to make an appointment. Blood work goes out in same-day mail, so blood draw appointments must be scheduled before 11 a.m., Monday – Thursday.
  • Once approved, you will receive a Donor ID. This means you are ready to drop off milk. Contact Astera’s lactation consultant, Sarah Riedel, RN, IBCLC, at 218-631-8741 to set up an appointment to drop off your frozen milk.

Donor milk is given by prescription primarily to babies born prematurely or who are suffering from illness. Common reasons for prescribing donor milk include premature birth, failure to thrive, formula intolerance, food allergies, malabsorption syndromes, immunologic deficiencies, pre- or post-operative nutrition, and immunologic support.

A milk depot is a convenient place where mothers can bring their extra milk to donate to other babies. That milk is then transported to a milk bank, which then screens, pasteurizes, tests, and then distributes to infants in need.

In addition to mothers being pre-screened before they donate, the frozen donor milk goes through an in-depth pasteurization process to kill bacteria and ensure it is safe for babies to drink.

Sarah Riedel, RN, IBCLC: 218-632-8741