UMass Breastmilk Lab

A Quick Overview of the Breastmilk-Donation Process for our Research Program

Getting you started with the breast milk donation process

When you first contact us, we check if you are eligible to participate in one of our studies. If you are; we enroll you via our secure server. Supplies are shipped to you using the USPS, they include a prepaid FedEx mailer for overnight return of the samples. We package everything in a box, please keep the box for the return trip, it will help protect the milk pouches. The box contains a black insulated pouch and collection bags for milk along with a saliva collection device (we make reference DNA from cells in the saliva) and cold packs. Please put the cold packs in a freezer, they provide the main cooling for the milk shipped back to us. There is an instruction sheet in the package.  As a supplement to the description below, two Umass Undergrads recorded a video about the milk-donation shipping system.

Preparing and shipping donated breastmilk samples

We provide two breastmilk storage bags one labeled “Left Breast” and one labeled “Right Breast” these are for the main milk samples, please try and provide 75 ml (2.5 ounces) of milk from each breast. We need you to ship out the samples Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday so that they don’t get stuck in the system for a weekend. There is a second set of breastmilk storage bags in the package. If you can, please provide additional samples and FREEZE THESE A DAY OR SO BEFORE the FedEx mailing (we can use the frozen samples for some research and they provide extra cooling).

On the morning of the day you ship your donated milk to the Arcaro lab:

You need to call FedEx before noon to schedule a pickup that day (its straightforward and details are in the written instructions). Pour or pump your milk into the “Right Breast” and “Left Breast” bags.  Squeeze out all the air from the bags and put them into extra bags (see the instruction sheet in the package). Load these bags, the freezer packs and any frozen milk samples into the black pouch and that original box. Include the paper documents if you used them. Spit, dribble or drool into the saliva collection device! Add that to the package. It has its own instructions. FedEx will stop by.
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