bereavement support

for mothers and families:

The loss of a child is devastating. Our community at the Mothers’ Milk Bank is deeply honored to support mothers and families processing and coping with bereavement. Our hearts are with you, and we will be of help to you in many different ways. It is our aim to be your support, friend and ally at this time in your life.

In the event of the loss of your child, the Mothers' Milk Bank helps you make decisions regarding stored milk and continued lactation. Most mothers find physiological comfort and preventing engorgement. Emotional and physical support are a priority when you are still producing milk and not able to breastfeed. Additionally, we hope to support your peace of mind by ensuring your milk gets to babies whose lives need saving: we are more than happy to make donations in your baby’s name and to provide you feedback about where your milk goes to support babies in need.

Please see our resources below for continued support.

for mothers

If you are a mother, or family member who has recently lost a child, we want to express our deepest condolences for the loss of your child. There is almost nothing one can say to you to make any of this experience softer, though we hope to be of help to you through our Milk Bank, and to honor your child.

First, if you have frozen breast milk, we will gladly accept it.

You may want to continue to express your milk because it allows your body to continue to create Prolactin which can help lessen any symptoms of depression, and may help you through the unimaginable pain and grief of losing your baby.

For some mothers, expressing milk is the evidence and significance of your baby and motherhood. It is a way of honoring yourself and your child. We understand and support you in your decision. You have many choices about what to do with your milk, though we hope you will consider our Milk Bank based on our legacy of excellence. Donating to the Mothers’ Milk Bank gives your milk access to feeding babies in 63% of all NICUs in California and providing for other infants in need.

The giving of your milk is recognition of your little one and a meaningful way to help other babies. Though you are in grief, your milk supports babies in dire need of human milk.

The Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose CA accepts milk from anywhere in the US from a bereaved mother. Our staff is trained to help you through the screening to donate milk and helps your family with the transfer of your precious donation. Any amount is greatly appreciated. If you do not want to complete the screening, the milk will be provided for research. Again, your loss is unimaginable, yet we are here for you. You can help saves lives of babies who will grow in your child’s name Please call our toll free number 877-375-6645 Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm PST.

for physicians

It is essential to give bereaved mothers information about managing their milk production and to support them in the decisions they make about their milk. Although it is painful to keep producing milk, the presence of milk is a reality for most bereaved mothers and continued lactation is often an integral part of their experience of loss (Busta Moore and Catlin, 2003). To acknowledge that lactation is a reality for a bereaved mother validates the bereaved mother's experience, which includes the physiological capacity to produce milk as well as the emotional connection to her baby through lactation. Maintaining physiological comfort and preventing engorgement are a priority when a woman is still producing milk and she is not able to breastfeed.

Some bereaved mothers may want nothing to do with their milk after their baby dies whereas others want to continue to express their milk and eventually donate it to a HMBANA bank. One advantage for a bereaved mother to keep pumping her milk is that the continued presence of prolactin could help lessen the symptoms of depression she may feel while grieving the loss of her baby. Pumping her milk on a regular basis may help her move through the unimaginable pain and grief of losing a baby.

For some bereaved mothers, rituals, such as expressing milk, help them to manage their grief and celebrate their child's life at the same time. It is a way of acknowledging the grief of the loss as well as the significance of that baby's life. Some bereaved mothers are determined to do something meaningful with their milk. She may wish to donate milk as a contribution to other infants, which in turn helps them heal from their own loss.

The Mothers' Milk Bank (MMB) in San Jose California is the only non profit distributing milk bank that gives bereaved mothers the option to donate their milk. The Mothers' Milk Bank English and Spanish coordinators are trained to help and support bereaved mothers who want to donate their milk. The donor coordinators at MMB are committed to making the donation process as smooth as possible for all bereaved mothers. If the mother does not want to do the full screening or fails the screening, the milk will be provided for research. Staff will follow up on referrals from health professionals to expedite the transfer of the milk donation.

HMBANA Publication: Lactation Support for the Bereaved Mother: A Toolkit. This toolkit is a great resource for healthcare providers who work with bereaved mothers. Information about ordering the toolkit can be found at

Contact Information Jessica Welborn PhD is available to speak to groups and individuals who may want to learn more about lactation support for bereaved mothers. Please feel free to email me at or call 415-412-4918 if you have questions or are interested in a presentation/discussion on this important topic

1887 Monterey Road, Suite 105-110, San Jose, CA 95112