Your Questions Answered...

You're keen to help however you can but you need a little bit more information. Read on to find out more about how donated breastmilk can make a difference. And if you still have a query, please get in touch.

Understanding Breastmilk Banking

Donated Breastmilk (DBM)

Milk that is donated from healthy breastfeeding mothers to help premature or sick infants in need. As supported by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, DBM should be the first alternative where mother's milk is not available.

Mother's Own Milk (MOM)

Breastmilk provided by the infant's birth mother.

Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit (NNICU)

An intensive care unit specializing in the care of ill or premature infant newborns. This is where your donated breastmilk will help save lives.


Placement of an infant with its mother rather than in a nursery after birth. This encourages bonding and helps breastfeeding.

Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC)

A dangerous infection of the intestine, which typically affects premature, formula-fed babies in the third to fourth week of life (source:

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should women donate breastmilk?
To save the lives of the most vulnerable babies. Breastmilk is the perfect first "food". Babies are born with immature immune systems, and breastmilk being rich in antibodies and immune factors helps to "speed" up the development of their immune systems.
How does it work?
The SABR collects frozen breastmilk from suitable donors, which is then tested and pasteurised before being dispatched to NNICUs, in both the public and private sector throughout the country.
Who receives donated breastmilk?
Premature babies, weighing under 1.8kgs at birth and younger than 14 days of age. Without breastmilk during their first two weeks of life, these babies are vulnerable to infections and diseases due to their very immature immune systems. Under our outpatient programme, we treat every request on a case by case basis after discussion with our Medical Advisory Board, but generally our recipients are babies with severe allergies where breastmilk is a medical necessity or mom needs to interrupt breastfeeding due to medical treatment contraindicated to breastfeeding.
Who are the safest donors?
Breastfeeding women who lead a healthy lifestyle and have excess breastmilk
Who qualifies to become a breastmilk donor?
Any healthy, lactating mother who:
  • Has not received a blood transfusion in the last 12 months,
  • Does not smoke,
  • Does not regularly consume alcohol,
  • Is not taking any medication.
Do you randomly test donors?
No, all donors are required to complete a screening questionnaire and undergo the necessary blood tests.
What tests does the SABR use?
Donor mothers are tested for HIV and hepatitis B and microbiological testing is done on the breastmilk.
How often can I donate breastmilk?
As often as what you are able to.
How much breastmilk must I donate at one time?
There is no minimum requirement, every donation is valued.
Will I receive payment for my breastmilk?
No, legally we are not allowed to compensate our donor mothers, as breastmilk is considered a human tissue in South Africa. Breastmilk, like blood, is donated as a charitable exercise to save the lives of premature babies and not for financial gain.
How do I become a breastmilk donor?
  • Fill out our online application form
  • The SABR will contact you telephonically to either book an appointment or refer you to your closest sign up facility.
  • Note that this could take 5 - 7 working days
Can I only donate milk I expressed after becoming registered? / Is any breastmilk acceptable as a donation?
No, we will gladly accept any milk that has been stored correctly and is not older than 6 months, provided you pass our screening process.
What is safe breastmilk?
Breastmilk from a healthy donor that has been screened / tested, pasteurised and stored correctly could be considered safe.
What infections can be transmitted by breastmilk?
HIV, hepatitis B, as well as other viral infections can be transmitted by breastmilk, which is why our donors are screened and the milk is tested before use.
Who should not donate breastmilk?
Amongst others, women who:
  • Smoke
  • Use chronic medications and / or recreational drugs
  • Are at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease
  • Are taking medications or herbal remedies to increase their milk supply
How safe is it to donate breastmilk?
There is no risk in donating breastmilk.