Mothers' knowledge of and attitudes toward human milk banking in South Australia: A qualitative study

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Background: The beneficial effects of breastfeeding for mothers and babies are well recognized. When maternal breast milk is not available in sufficient quantity, donor breast milk is recommended as an alternate source of nutrition, particularly in preterm and other high-risk infants. Australia lags behind the rest of the developed world in establishing and promoting human milk banks; there is no human milk bank in South Australia and little is known concerning mothers perceptions of using human milk banks in that state. Objective: This study explored mothers knowledge of and attitudes toward human milk banks, to inform the development of human milk banking policies and guidelines in South Australia should a milk bank be established. Methods: In-depth semistructured interviews were conducted with 12 mothers who were breastfeeding and/or had preterm or sick babies. In addition, 2 focus groups were conducted1 with breastfeeding mothers as potential donors (n = 5) and the other with mothers of preterm or high-risk infants (n = 4)to answer questions raised by early analysis of the individual interview data. Results: Breastfeeding mothers, as potential donors, unanimously supported donating their breast milk to a human milk bank, provided it would be easy (especially if required to drop off milk) and not overly time consuming. Mothers of preterm or sick infants would use a human milk bank if they were assured the milk was safe and appropriate for their babies. Conclusion: Study participants would welcome having access to a human milk bank for both donating and receiving milk in South Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-229
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Human Lactation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2013


  • Australia
  • breastfeeding
  • expressed breast milk
  • human milk bank
  • mothers
  • qualitative


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