Moms know breast milk is the ultimate superfood for babies. However, there are some who were not lucky enough to produce milk for their babies, they either turn to formula or buy milk from milk banks. Nonetheless, there are few moms who were given the superpower to produce quite an unlimited supply of breast milk.
Just like Elizabeth Anderson-Sierra of Beaverton, Oregon who spent 700 days—a total of 5,000 hours—pumping, washing, packing, and doing other milk-related activities.
And all that hard work has paid off big time: The military vet and mother of two donated 53,535 ounces of breast milk to a milk bank, surpassing the current Guinness World Record of 53,081 ounces of donated breast milk.
People then start calling the 29-year-old mom “breast milk goddess,” but what makes her story very unique is her desire to help save lives goes back to her time in the Coast Guard, when she was trained in search and rescue, and as a longtime blood donor. When she became pregnant and had to stop donating blood, she researched breastmilk donation.
“I had no idea how my body would react,” she said. “I had the mindset that I wanted to do it. Even if I just had one ounce extra a day, I was going to donate it.”
The “milk goddess” donates her supply to milk banks, which are then distributed nationwide. She also supplies it to local moms and families in her community, she says.
Although she gets reimbursed a dollar an ounce for each donation given to milk banks, most of that money goes right back into buying pumps, sanitation kits, and freezers to store the milk, she says, adding that she barely breaks even.
When did she first think about pursuing this project?
After her first daughter, Isabella, was born in late December 2014, Elizabeth nursed and pumped to try to increase her supply so she could donate. Her milk, she said, “seemed to be almost doubling every other day” and she had an oversupply.
She froze the extra milk, and by February 2015, had two freezers full of milk. Elizabeth began donating it directly to families in her Beaverton, Oregon, area.
Elisabeth starts to produce about 17 gallons of breastmilk each day. She spends 10 hours of her day pumping to produce the sustaining supply.
As of June 2018, Elisabeth donated 53,535 ounces of breastmilk to other moms. This means she has unofficially beat the Guinness Book of World Records for the most ounces of breastmilk donated.
In a Facebook post, Elisabeth explained that she finds so much joy in sharing her breastmilk around the world.
“This shipment marks a personal goal of mine and one of the reasons we are celebrating this month! Unofficially breaking the Guinness World Records for breastmilk donation to a milk bank ONLY. The current standing record is 53,081 oz. This shipment will put me at approximately 53,535 oz. To clarify, this is my personal donation count to a milk bank ONLY and doesn’t include any other donations.”
The boxes in the photo are filled with frozen breast milk. She writes:
“Pictured is over 2,500 ounces going to Prolacta Bioscience in California for Micropreemies, and 800 ounces going to Puerto Rico for baby Joaquin to supply him for another month! I’ve also had 2 of my local families pick up 1,000 ounces each this afternoon. My freezer has breathing room again, and I have less anxiety about running out of room for a few weeks.”
Although she loves donating her breastmilk to help babies in need, it takes a lot of work.
“Everything revolves around the ball-and-chain pump,” she said. “There have been so many times I’ve broken down and hated everything about it. Wanting to quit and get my life back.”
Eventually, Elisabeth saw her doctor to make sure her overproduction was not linked to a health problem, perhaps with her thyroid or pituitary gland. “I was found to be completely normal and I just have hyperlactation syndrome,” she said.
Hyperlactation, or an oversupply of breastmilk, is when someone produces excessive amounts of breastmilk, more than their baby would need, said Dr. Lori Feldman-Winter, a pediatrician and breastfeeding expert. There’s no agreed-upon amount that defines the condition, she added.
A breastfeeding mom to a 6-month-old baby would typically produce just under 1 liter a day, or around 25 to 30 ounces, she said.
Watch the video below for more details: