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  1. Wambach, Karen PhD, RN, IBCLC, FILCA, FAAN
  2. Bateson, Tiffany MSN, RN-BC
  3. Matheny, Paige BSN, RN
  4. Easter-Brown, Kristan BSN, RN, IBCLC


Background: The use of pasteurized human donor milk has increased in recent years due to health benefits and rising number of infants who need pasteurized human donor milk. Little is known about milk donors' experiences or what contributes to their motivation to donate.


Purpose: Using existing evidence and the theory of planned behavior as a guide, our purpose was to describe the personal and social aspects of mothers' milk donation to a milk bank in the Midwest United States.


Methods: A convenience sample of 50 current human milk donors enrolled in this cross-sectional descriptive study. The investigator-designed online survey consisted of open and closed questions based upon existing evidence and theory of planned behavior for assessing reasons for donation, beliefs about benefits and barriers, social support for donation, donation history, and current experiences. We used the Iowa Infant Feeding Attitude Survey to characterize general breastfeeding attitudes. Data analysis consisted of content analysis for narrative data and descriptive statistics for continuous and dichotomous variables.


Findings/Results: Six themes represented experiences of discovering donation, reasons and motivations for donating, benefits and barriers to donation, confidence in donating, and support for donation. Practical and altruistic motivations for donation were prevalent. Confidence for donation was instilled by adequate milk supply, growth of the infant, and the milk bank process and professionalism. Support from others was universal.


Implications for Practice: Findings can inform education regarding human milk donation. Human milk banks may benefit from identified donation barriers to improve support for donors.


Implications for Research: Findings are being used for instrument development for research regarding women's intentions and donor behavior.