Maine Medical Center
Woman with newborn baby

Lactation Services

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies breastfeed only for six months and then continue through the first year along with other foods. The evidence is clear that breast milk is the best nutrition for babies and that there are many other benefits of breastfeeding for both parent and baby. We also understand it isn’t always easy! 

Expert Breastfeeding Education and Guidance

Our International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLCs) are dedicated to helping parents reach their breastfeeding goals. They are vital members of the health care team committed to promoting and practicing evidence-based infant feeding practices. Every day our IBCLCs are here providing expert guidance and calm support for breastfeeding families. Our nurses are also well trained and experienced in breastfeeding support and will help you and your baby get off to a good start. Many are Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs), too. Lactation support is available daily.

Before Your Stay: Prepare by exploring prenatal education including 1:1 consults and Breastfeeding Basics class.

During Your Stay: Lactation consults are available in all areas of the Family Birth Center at MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland.

After Your Stay: Outpatient lactation appointments are also available after you go home with your baby and are covered by most insurance plans. If you didn’t deliver at MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland, you can still use our outpatient lactation services. Call 207-662-4555 for more information. Phone support is available if you just have a question that may not require an appointment. Our Weekly Breastfeeding Group is open to parents and babies!

Breastfeeding Support Group

This free, weekly support group is a great opportunity to meet other new breastfeeding parents in your community, share experiences, and receive postpartum and newborn care information and support.

Breast pump rentals are available through the The Boutique. Ask a care team member for more information. 

MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland offers pasteurized donor breast milk to some babies in the postpartum care unit. Pasteurized donor breast milk, screened and processed by the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast, can be used to supplement feedings while the breastfeeding parent works on increasing their milk supply and/or until the baby improves their breastfeeding ability. Donor breast milk is not meant to replace or substitute breastfeeding.

Can my baby get donor breast milk?

We will supply pasteurized donor breast milk to your baby if all of these requirements are met:

  • Your baby is less than 96 hours (4 days) old
  • You want to exclusively breastfeed (only give your baby breast milk), but are having a hard time producing milk right away
  • There is a medical need to supplement with donor breast milk

What are the medical needs for supplementing with pasteurized donor breast milk?

Your baby might have a medical need for donor breast milk if your baby:

  • Has lost too much weight
  • Was born after 36 weeks gestation and is at risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia)

Your baby might need donor breast milk if the birth parent:

  • Had gestational diabetes
  • Has insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
  • Used beta-blockers medications during the pregnancy
  • Is not able to make enough milk because of:
    • Illness or separation
    • Breast surgery
    • Insufficient glandular tissue

How long can my baby receive donor breast milk from MaineHealth Maine Medical Center?

Your baby can continue to receive donor breast milk until one of the following things happens:

  • You are able to produce enough breast milk to meet your baby’s needs
  • Your baby has been discharged from the hospital
  • Your baby is older than 96 hours of age
  • Your baby no longer has a medical need for supplementation

In order for your baby to receive pasteurized donor breast milk, you must also be actively working on increasing your own breast milk supply by latching, pumping, hand expression, etc. If you need help, please ask to speak with one of our Lactation Consultants.

Can I continue to give my baby donor breast milk after I leave the hospital?

If you are interested in ordering pasteurized donor breast milk to give your baby after being discharged from the hospital, or if you want to give your baby pasteurized donor breast milk and don’t meet the criteria to receive it, you can buy it privately through the Mother’s Milk Bank North East. For more information please visit

MaineHealth Maine Medical Center Portland (MHMMCP) is now a drop-off site for donated breast milk. This donated breast milk is stored in a freezer at MHMMCP before being sent to the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE) where it is pasteurized and given to babies in fragile health throughout the New England area.

Why is this important?

Human milk has been proven to be the gold standard as the most nutritious and beneficial food for babies. It is especially important for preterm and critically ill infants. Research shows sick infants who receive breast milk have fewer days of antibiotics; have markedly lower rates of diarrhea, urinary tract infections, sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and even death. Hospital stays of these infants are significantly shorter as well. Breast milk – the birth parent’s own milk or donor milk – has been proven to fight infection and save the lives of Maine’s most fragile babies.

We are excited to be a part of this opportunity to emphasize the importance of breastfeeding, human milk, and donor milk. Many parents of ill and premature infants are unable to provide enough milk for their babies. The gift of human milk can mean the difference between life and death for these infants. We are proud to make donating milk easier for mothers in the area. Some hospitals buy donated breast milk from milk banks to give to their sick baby patients, and some parents buy this milk directly from the milk bank.

Who is eligible to donate?

Donors are people who are currently lactating and have surplus milk. They must be:

  • In good general health
  • A non-smoker
  • Willing to undergo a blood test (at our expense)
  • Not regularly using medication or herbal supplements (with some exceptions - please contact us)
  • Willing to donate at least 150 ounces of milk

A donor is not suitable if they:

  • Have a positive blood test result for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B or C, or Syphilis
  • Are at risk for HIV, or their partner is
  • Use illegal drugs
  • Smoke or use tobacco products
  • Have received an organ or tissue transplant or a blood transfusion in the last twelve months
  • Regularly have more than two ounces or more of alcohol per day
  • Have been in the United Kingdom for more than three months or in Europe for more than five years since 1980

As part of the screening process milk donors are also required to have their blood drawn and results sent to the MMBNE.

How can I donate my breast milk?

Donors with extra breast milk to donate should contact the Mother’s Milk Bank of Northeast (MMBNE). MMBNE will guide donors through a multiple step process, which includes:

  • A phone health screening, which takes 10-15 minutes, it is modeled after blood donor screening.
  • We will email or mail you information about becoming a donor and forms for you to fill out and send back to us. 
  • We will fax your physician and your baby’s physician to assure that they do not have any concerns about you donating your milk.
  • When we have heard back from both physicians we will send you a blood kit, to have your blood drawn. We test for HIV, HTLV, Hepatitis B and C and Syphilis, all diseases that can pass through human milk. While these are all killed by our pasteurizing, we cannot accept donors who have these diseases.
  • Once we have received the blood test results, we will call you to arrange delivery of your milk.
  • Once MMBNE approves you to be a donor, you may then contact to make an appointment to drop off your milk at MHMMCP. Once the freezer fills up, MHMMCP will safely ship the milk to MMBNE for pasteurization and distribution.

For more specific information about becoming a breast milk donor, please call MMBNE at 617-527-6263 or email