A mother of two is being called a “milk goddess” after two and a half years of donating her extra breast milk to families in need — 600 gallons of it, to be exact.
Oregon-based Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra, 29, first started donating excess breast milk to other mothers after her first daughter was born in 2014. She told People, however, that she hadn’t considered doing it “full-time” until she had her second daughter in December 2016. For the first 24 hours after this birth, which took 30 hours, Anderson-Sierra was too tired to breastfeed her new daughter and appreciated the donor milk she received.
Then, in February of this year, she diagnosed with hyper lactation syndrome, meaning she overproduces breast milk, which usually occurs in women who have an unusually high number of milk-producing glands in their breasts. In a recent Facebook post on the Breastfeeding Mama Talk page, Anderson-Sierra opened up about what it’s like to be a seriously committed breast milk donor. She has to adhere to strict quality control standards from her local milk bank, and she estimated that she pumps around 1.75 gallons per day. She also told People that she spends roughly four to five hours a day pumping, as well as additional time to make sure the milk is packaged and stored correctly.
In the Breastfeeding Mama Talk Facebook post, Anderson-Sierra also highlighted just how expensive breastfeeding and donating milk can be; she wrote that she needs to invest in pumps, pumping bras, breast pads, nipple creams, bottles, cleaning supplies for her pumps, groceries to keep herself fueled, and electricity for the three freezers in which she stores her milk in. In return, she says she receives one dollar for every qualified ounce of milk, as well as the knowledge that she’s helping families in need.
Anderson-Sierra does mention that she deals with people asking her to give them milk for no charge: “I’m not complaining, this is my choice and I truly love what I do,” she wrote. “Many mothers want me to just give my milk freely to them when they cannot provide enough simply because I have so much. Yes I do have a lot to give, but I can’t freely feed all the babies.”
But despite the obstacles, Anderson-Sierra said she’s passionate about what she does. “This is my way of being active in my community and giving back to humanity, and so it’s my labor of love,” she told People. “If everybody had this kind of mentality, the world would be a better place. I feel like I am doing my part, one ounce at a time.”
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