Over in Oregon, in the United States, a 30-year-old mom is making waves for donating an insane amount of breast milk — a total of 3,549 liters — to milk banks and private individuals.
Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra, a military veteran and a mom of two, shared this personal achievement on her Facebook page, "One Ounce at a Time," where she chronicles her breastfeeding and pumping journey.
In her post, Elisabeth uploaded a photo of seven boxes, which contained 97 liters of breast milk. It was on its way to a milk bank for micro preemies and a baby named Joaquin who was living in Puerto Rico. “This shipment marks a personal goal of mine and one of the reasons we are celebrating this month,” she writes. “Unofficially breaking the Guinness World Records for breast milk donation to a milk bank ONLY!”
The Guinness current record is at 53,081 oz or around 1,570 liters. Elisabeth's milk bank donation alone amounts to 1,583 liters, beating the world record by 13 liters. Besides, she still donated 1,966 liters to moms.
“This [Guinness] goal represents approximately 700 days and 5,000 hours of pumping, washing, packing, and all things strictly milk related,” she writes.
In an interview with Babble, Elisabeth shares that she has been donating her breast milk a little over three and a half years ago. Both her daughters, Isabella, 3, and Sophia, 1, benefit from her abundant supply, of course.
Elisabeth, who used to work in the U.S. Coast Guard, has always been “very involved” with giving back, reports Babble. When she became pregnant with her first baby, she already knew that milk donation was something she would want to try “in order to continue to help others.”
But she didn’t know then that she had hyperlactation syndrome, a condition where the body produces an excessive amount of breast milk. Thanks to this condition, her breast milk donations have helped hundreds of babies throughout the years.
The baby she mentioned in her post, Joaquin, was considered dead for eight minutes after his mother died in childbirth. He spent a month in NICU and has thankfully gotten healthy due to breast milk donations from Prolacta, an organization that supplies breast milk to babies in critical need. (Elisabeth donates her breast milk to this organization.)
Pumping milk and saving lives have become, in essence, Elisabeth's full-time job. She relies on company sponsors and donations to support the estimated US$3,500 dollars (around Php185,500) it costs to maintain and donate her supply. And it takes a toll on her family and friends. “Everything revolves around the ball-and-chain pump,” she tells Babble, adding that she hasn’t had as much as half a day off in almost four years.
“There have been so many times I’ve broken down and hated everything about it. Wanting to quit and get my life back,” she admits. It is thanks to the support of her followers and the knowledge that she is making a difference in the world that keeps her going.
And while she knows she already broke the Guinness Book of World Records for breast milk donations to a milk bank, Elisabeth is not in a hurry to make it official. (She needs to request her donation total from the milk bank and submit it to Guinness). She is still actively donating and continuing to break the record.
“The mindset I have is not to chase down and break records, but to strive to be an example in the milk-sharing world and break the stigma,” she tells Babble.
Like Elisabeth, many Filipino mamas who are blessed with an abundant supply also donate their breast milk. One example is celebrity mom Saab Magalona, who donated 100 bags of breast milk to the Human Milk Bank back in March. We’ve also previously written about mom Rodessa Villanueva-Reyes, who chronicled how to properly prepare breast milk for donation and where to donate.
Interested in donating? The Philippine Human Milk Bank is accepting donations via milk banks across the country. Moms who wish to donate their excess breast milk can visit the website for guidelines.