How do I place an order for pick up?

1. Prior to your first order, you must submit an inquiry form and review the consent form on the New Outpatient Family Form. Once completed, completed you may go to step 2.

2. Click "Order Donor Milk Now" below.

3. Increase your order quantity to the desired number of bottles. The order minimum is 6 x 200mL bottles (40oz).

4. At checkout, select "Pick up." Enter your preferred pickup time and date and time.

Pick ups are scheduled M-F, 12-3. Same day orders must be in by 11 AM.

How do I place an order for shipping?

We do not ship to families in San Diego proper.

1. Prior to your first order, you must submit an inquiry form and review the consent form on the New Outpatient Family Form. Once completed, completed you may go to step 2.

2. Click "Order donor milk now" below.

3. Increase the order quantity to the desired number of bottles. The order minimum is 15 x 200mL bottles (100oz). The max is 60 bottles per box.

3. At checkout, select "Ship." Be sure to include the accurate shipping address in your order.

4. Milk is shipped overnight priority on dry ice. We ship Monday through Thursday. The deadline for same day shipping orders is 11 AM.

Do I need to schedule an order pickup/do I need to reschedule if I cannot make my appointment?

Yes, you must schedule an order pickup. The Milk Bank is in a secured area of the facility that customers cannot enter. If the staff does not anticipate a pickup, we cannot ensure that someone will be available to walk your order to your car. Pickups are scheduled 12-3 Monday through Friday.

If you need to reschedule, please call or text (858) 899-4955.

How much does donor milk cost?

As a non-profit milk bank, all of our revenue is invested back into developing the milk bank and to offset expenses such as donor screening and blood testing, milk pasteurization, equipment, and facilities. UC Health Milk Bank donor milk is $4.80/ounce.

Why does donated milk cost money?

Processing donor milk requires staff, facilities, utilities, supplies, blood testing, lab testing, milk pasteurization, and lots and lots of equipment. Milk is sold to hospitals and outpatient families to cover costs. As a non-profit organization, we do not keep revenue to redistribute to shareholders or invest elsewhere. We only use revenue to progress our mission – and we have big goals to increase donor milk accessibility!

See Why Does Donated Milk Cost Money?

How soon before we need donor milk should I order?

If purchasing donor milk before birth, we recommend placing your order 1-2 weeks before baby's due date.

Same day orders must be in by 11 AM.

Is there an order minimum?

Yes. The order minimum for local pickups is 6 x 200mL outpatient bottles (40 ounces). The order minimum for out of area shipments is 15 x 200mL bottles (100 ounces).

Is there an order maximum?

When inventory is low we will implement an order maximum to ensure we are able to service all NICUs and as many outpatient families as possible. We currently do not have an order maximum.

The maximum order for shipping is 60 bottles per box.

Is there a maximum baby age you service?

To ensure we can meet the demand of NICUs, newborns, and babies with a medical necessity for donor milk, we are not able to ensure service to healthy babies over three months. If your baby is over three months and you would like to use donor milk, you may reach out to inquire about our outpatient milk inventory.

Quality and Safety

Is donor milk safe?

Pasteurized donor milk by a HMBANA-accredited milk bank is safe. There has never been a case of a child becoming ill from donor milk pasteurized at an accredited milk bank. Donor milk must be processed at a level of quality and safety that is appropriate for NICU use. This includes extensive screening of donor mothers, pasteurization, and various quality checks.

How do I thaw donor milk? How long is it good for once thawed?

The donor milk is frozen and should be stored in a freezer until you will need to use it.

Here are a Few Ways to Thaw Donor Milk When You are Ready to Feed:⠀

  • Overnight in the refrigerator (12 hours)
  • On the counter (takes a few hours)⠀
  • In a warm water bath (1 hour)⠀
  • In a bottle warmer (varies)⠀
  • Don’t use the microwave (due to hot spots in the milk)⠀

Once Thawed Milk Can:

  • Stay at room temp for 4 hours⠀
  • Stay cold in the refrigerator up to 48 hours⠀
  • Be used within 48 hours⠀

Do you accept returns if we ordered too much donor milk, or my baby rejects the product?

For quality and safety purposes, we cannot bring donor milk back in to the facility once it has been dispensed.

Your baby may reject donor milk due to high lipase. Studies about high lipase milk have confirmed that it is not likely to cause any tummy troubles, but some babies are very sensitive to the free fatty acid taste. We do not have a test for lipase, so the quantity can vary. If a baby rejects milk, but the milk product is safe, we do not issue a refund.

Is a prescription required?

The Human Milk Banking Association of North America no longer requires a prescription for donor milk purchase.

Do you have dairy free / diet specific milk?

We do not create donor pools specific to diet.

What are the macronutrients of donor milk?

Our outpatient donor milk has a similar macronutrient profile as milk produced by mother 6 weeks post-partum. If a child was born low weight or is struggling to gain weight, we will provide a NICU grade product at no additional cost.

Health Milk Bank Products
for macronutrient details.

Is any nutrition lost in the pasteurization process? Do I need to supplement with vitamins?

The majority of biological components are intact post pasteurization. Heat treatment does reduce or abolish some components.

Pasteurized donor milk has much of the biological and many of the beneficial properties of mother’s milk. But some minerals and vitamins like Vitamin C and Zinc can be low.

If your baby is getting donor milk from a milk bank, they may need extra nutrients by giving them a vitamin and mineral supplement. If your baby is also getting mother’s own milk or infant formula, or eating table food this supplement may not be necessary.

Discuss with your provider if your baby needs a supplement and which supplement(s) they recommend.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for infants 0-6 months old:
• Vitamin D: 400 IU/day (10 mcg)
• Vitamin C: 40 mg/day
• Zinc: 2 mg/day
Examples of infant products that supply Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and Zinc
(not a complete list):
• Kiddivit Baby Zinc with elderberry, C & D
• Wellements Baby Immune Support & Vitamins
• Zarabee’s Immune Support and Vitamins

Insurance and Bridge Milk Fund

Is donor milk covered by insurance? If so, what is the process?

If your baby does not have a medical need for donor milk, it is unlikely the insurance would cover it as it is a nutrition. Insurance does not cover nutrition. That being said,
we always encourage families to inquire with their plan.

The first step is to call in to see what your plan’s donor milk coverage/policies are. If the insurer says they will cover the donor milk, you will need:

  • A letter of medical necessity from the referring provider (your pediatrician). This should include their NPI number
  • Prior authorization from your insurance. They can email it to ucmilkbankorders@health.ucsd.edu, or fax it to
    858-732-0870. This should include the diagnosis code, and specified quantity or
    length of service
  • A contact from Contracting at your insurance company so we can quickly get a single family contract signed

If you have questions, please reach out to us at ucmilkbankorders@health.ucsd.edu.

What is considered a medical necessity for donor milk?

Examples of donor milk medical necessity include a history of surgical NEC, small gut syndrome, diagnosed failure to thrive, etc. Although formula tolerance is extremely challenging for baby and family, it is not considered a medical necessity unless the child is diagnosed with failure to thrive. 

Do you have assistance programs for families with a financial need?

The Bridge Milk Fund is available for families in need of donor milk who are unable to purchase it. Families who qualify for WIC and/or Medi-Cal are able to receive 40 ounces at no cost if their case meets one of the following qualifications:

  • Newborn (under 1 month) - Mother's own milk is not in yet. Donor milk is needed to "bridge" until mother's milk comes in.
  • Medical necessity - Families in the process of pursuing insurance coverage for donor milk. Donor milk is needed to "bridge" until potential insurance authorization.

The aim of the fund is to help families keep their child exclusively breastfed, if possible. Unfortunately, we cannot provide more than 40 ounces, or cases outside of "bridging".

The minimum shipping order is 100 ounces. For out of area families who qualify, they are able to purchase 60 ounces and receive the 40 ounces at no cost.

If you qualify for Bridge Milk, please reach out to us at ucmilkbankorders@health.ucsd.edu.