Belfort MB, Drouin K, Riley JF Prevalence and trends in donor milk use in the well-baby nursery: a survey of northeast United States birth hospitals. Breastfeed Med.. 2018; 13:(1)34-41

Bond DM, Shand AW, Gordon A, Bentley JP, Phipps H, Nassar N Breastfeeding patterns and effects of minimal supplementation on breastfeeding exclusivity and duration in term infants: a prospective sub-study of a randomised controlled trial. J Paediatr Child Health.. 2021; 57:(8)1288-1295

Bowatte G, Tham R, Allen KJ, Tan DJ, Lau MXZ, Dai X, Lodge CJ Breastfeeding and childhood acute otitis media: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015; 104:(467)85-95

Chowdhury R, Sinha B, Sankar MJ Breastfeeding and maternal health outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015; 104:(467)96-113

Demirci JR, Glasser M, Himes KP, Sereika SM Structured antenatal milk expression education for nulliparous pregnant people: results of a pilot, randomized controlled trial in the United States. Int Breastfeed J.. 2022; 17:(1)

European Milk Bank Association. United Kingdon. 2021. https//

Forster DA, Moorhead AM, Jacobs SE Advising women with diabetes in pregnancy to express breastmilk in late pregnancy (Diabetes and Antenatal Milk Expressing [DAME]): a multicentre, unblinded, randomised controlled trial. Lancet.. 2017; 389:(10085)2204-2213

Gibbs GOxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic; 1988

Giugliani ERJ, Horta BL, Loret de Mola C, Lisboa BO, Victora CG Effect of breastfeeding promotion interventions on child growth: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015; 104:(467)20-29

Griffin S, Watt J, Wedekind S Establishing a novel community-focussed lactation support service: a descriptive case series. Int Breastfeed J.. 2022; 17:(1)7-7

Health Service Executive. National standards for infant feeding in maternity services. 2022. https//

Horta BL, Loret de Mola C, Victora CG Longterm consequences of breastfeeding on cholesterol, obesity, systolic blood pressure and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review and metaanalysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015a; 104:(467)30-37

Horta BL, Loret de Mola C, Victora CG Breastfeeding and intelligence: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015b; 104:(467)14-19

Human Milk Foundation. Prioritisation Panel. 2023. https//

Kair LR, Flaherman VJ Donor milk or formula: a qualitative study of postpartum mothers of healthy newborns. J Hum Lact.. 2017; 33:(4)710-716

Lodge CJ, Tan DJ, Lau MXZ Breastfeeding and asthma and allergies: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015; 104:(467)38-53

Mantzorou M, Papandreou D, Vasios GK Exclusive breastfeeding for at least four months is associated with a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity in mothers and their children after 2–5 years from delivery. Nutrients.. 2022; 14:(17)

Merjaneh N, Williams P, Inman S The impact on the exclusive breastfeeding rate at 6 months of life of introducing supplementary donor milk into the level 1 newborn nursery. J Perinatol.. 2020; 40:(7)1109-1114

Miliku K, Azad M Breastfeeding and the developmental origins of asthma: current evidence, possible mechanisms, and future research priorities. Nutrients.. 2018; 10:(8)

McGuinness D, Daniel U, O'Brien D, Greene E What are the experiences of antenatal women with diabetes harvesting colostrum?. MIDIRS Midwifery Digest.. 2021; 32:(1)86-91

NorthernStar Mothers Milk Bank. Order milk. 2020. https//

Pollard MNew York: Routledge; 2018

Power BD, O'Dea MI, O'Grady MJ Donor human milk use in neonatal units: practice and opinions in the Republic of Ireland. Irish J Med Sci.. 2019; 188:(2)601-605

Sen S, Benjamin C, Riley J, Heleba A, Drouin K, Gregory K, Belfort MB Donor milk utilization for healthy infants: experience at a single academic center. Breastfeed Med.. 2018; 13:(1)28-33

Shenker N, Brown A, Wedekind S, Griffin S Reduction in anxiety and depression scores in parents whose infants receive donor human milk alongside lactation support. Arch Dis Child. 2022; 107:(Suppl 2)A159-A160

Shenker N, Staff M, Vickers A Maintaining human milk bank services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic: a global response. Matern Child Nutr.. 2021; 17:(3)

Tham R, Bowatte G, Dharmage SC Breastfeeding and the risk of dental caries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Acta Paediatr.. 2015; 104:(467)62-84

Williams T, Nair H, Simpson J, Embleton N Use of donor human milk and maternal breastfeeding rates: a systematic review. J Hum Lact.. 2016; 32:(2)212-220

Wilson E, Edstedt Bonamy AK, Bonet M Room for improvement in breast milk feeding after very preterm birth in Europe: results from the EPICE cohort. Matern Child Nutr.. 2018; 14:(1)

Western Health and Social Care Trust. Human Milk Bank Newsletter. 2023. https//

World Health Organization. Global nutrition targets 2025 – breastfeeding policy brief. 2015. https//

World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund. Implementation guidance: protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding in facilities providing maternity and newborn services: the revised babyfriendly hospital initiative. 2018. https//

Human Donor Milk in Maternity

02 November 2023
Volume 31 · Issue 11


Ines Salmoral and Denise McGuinness reflect on whether human donor milk should be made available for healthy term infants in the maternity setting

The World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and continued breastfeeding with safe and adequate complementary food for up to 2 years and beyond (WHO and UNICEF, 2018).

It is recognised that for term babies, additional milk supplementation may be necessary to support breastfeeding, as a result of medical indications or maternal request during the early postpartum period. Human milk banks provide donor human milk for human babies and operate according to guidelines developed by national bodies or local organisations (Shenker et al, 2021).

Currently, worldwide, donor human milk is reserved primarily for babies in the neonatal setting, preterm babies and critically ill babies (Shenker et al, 2021). Human milk should be offered as first option supplementation for all breastfed babies when additional maternal milk is required (WHO and UNICEF, 2018). The early introduction of commercial formula milk is associated with cessation of breastfeeding (Bond et al, 2021).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting British Journal of Midwifery and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for midwives. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to our clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month