A mother who produces excess breast milk has donated more than 2,000 litres of breast milk to babies in need.
Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra, 29, from Beaverton, Oregon, in the US was diagnosed with hyper-lactation in February, and can pump a whopping six litres of breast milk per day more in addition to nursing her then six-month-old daughter, Sophia, who was born in 2014. She has thus far pumped around 2,600 litres.
Ms Anderson-Sierra has posted on the Facebook community, Breastfeeding Mama Talk that she sends half of her milk to a milk bank, while the other half goes to local mothers in need.
“This is my way of being active in my community and giving back to humanity,” she told People.
She first donated some of her breast milk while feeding Sophia, but didn’t do it ‘full-time’ until she had her second daughter, Isabella in December last year.
Ms Anderson-Sierra, who described her endeavour as a ‘labour of love’, said that her decision to donate was because of her experience when she gave birth to Isabella.
She said that she was already exhausted to breastfeed her daughter for the first 24 hours after a very long 30 hours of labour. “[Isabella] had to have donor milk for the first couple of feedings,” she said.
She explained that the milk bank where she donates provides bags for donations – and pays her $1 per 30 millilitres. “These funds are taxed,” she writes. She also said that she loses around 50 per cent. “Donating to a milk bank has helped offset costs of donating locally, and pumping in general,” she adds.
Although Ms Anderson-Sierra admits that pumping is also expensive. She has “burned through” around 10 pumps, milk bags for all breast milk donated locally – using around 20 -40 per day, pumping bras for good support and compression, breast pads, nipple creams and pump parts – and the cost of running three freezers.
“I spend a lot of time washing and sterilising my pump parts (water, distilled water, de-scaling powder, soap, bottle brushes, pump part brushes, sterilisers and vinegar are some of the costs there) in order to donate to micro-preemies,” she says. “Their tiny systems cannot have any bad bacteria strains introduced to them. I keep 3 sterilisers and 10 sets of pump parts in rotation.”
However, Ms Anderson-Sierra says the most expensive aspect of the process is her time. “My time spent washing and sterilising, setup and breakdown to pump, actual pumping, bagging milk, weighing the milk, labelling, laying out to freeze, organising, and storing the milk,” she writes. “Time spent keeping up with my milk bank qualification, and organising local donations.”
Yet, despite all the sacrifices, Ms Anderson-Sierra says she loves what she’s doing, saying she’s ‘not complaining’ and this is her choice.