Baby breastmilk Hope Saldanha
Photo Credit: On File

World Breastmilk Donation Day is tomorrow, and this is how South African mothers with a little extra can give back to babies in need.


South Africa (18 May 2021) – World Breastmilk Donation Day happened annually on the 19th of May. Many mothers don’t know that while a mother’s own milk is essential for the survival of a premature baby, donated breastmilk is often given when a mother’s milk is not available.

Of the annual 1 million births in South Africa, around one in ten babies is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed and are premature. If these babies’ mothers are unable to supply the required volume of milk, additional donated breast milk is essential.

Breastmilk has been called the best nourishment for premature babies, providing nutrients that weren’t transferred during the shortened gestation period.

The South African Breastmilk Reserve (SABR) is a not-for-profit human milk-banking organisation founded in 2003. While the organisation is primarily an altruistic human milk-banking network, it also focuses on breastfeeding advocacy and promotion to grow breastfeeding in South Africa.

The vision is to decrease infant mortality resulting from Necrotising Enterocolitis (NEC) and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV through the formation of numerous community-driven, breastmilk banks and educational programmes, so as to contribute to a South Africa “living with HIV/AIDS”, rather than a South Africa “dying of HIV/AIDS”.

Why Help?

There are many reasons why a mother would donate her milk. From wanting to save lives, to having an excess of supply that would otherwise go to waste or cause illness. Some mothers store their milk in the freezer for emergencies and find they no longer need it.

Mothers who have faced infant loss also use milk donation as a way to use their milk supply while grieving their own loss.

Whatever the reasons, each donation makes a premature baby so much stronger!

The Stats

Since the organisation’s establishment, thousands of mothers have donated their milk to save the lives of premature babies in need. But, sadly, there has been an evident decline in the numbers of donors. This may well be due to a lack of awareness or understanding of the process.

How can you help?

You will be able to search the SABR database here to find a donation centre near to you. In addition, we recommend checking their website for an interactive milk bank list by province.

Should there not be a list for your province, you can reach out via their website here.

You can also call your nearest hospital to check if they have or know of a breastmilk bank in your area.

Sources: SABR / Good Things Guy
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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