Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra, a 29-year-old mother-of-two from Beaverton, Oregon, suffers from a rare condition known as Hyperlactation Syndrome. She produces about 1.7 gallons of breast milk per day, almost 10 times as much as most lactating women, and spends around 10 hours every day nursing and pumping her milk. She has so far donated 600 gallons (2.5 tonnes) of breast milk to milk banks and families in need of it.
Ever since falling pregnant with her older daughter, Isabella, who is now two and a half years old, Elisabeth estimates that she has fed thousands of babies with her breast milk. She virtually spends her whole day pumping the liquid gold, which she then stores in four large freezers in her home, for local mothers who cannot breastfeed their newborns, and breast milk banks for premature babies. Despite the huge amount of time and the discomfort that goes into pumping the milk, the 29-year-old considers it a “labor of love”.
“I pump five times a day – as soon as I wake up, after breakfast, after lunch, after dinner and again at midnight. I produce up to 0.625 gallons of milk during my first pump alone,” the super-producer says. “In total I will spend around five hours a day just pumping and then with storing, labelling, sterilizing etcetera, I easily spent eight to ten hours. Pumping is not fun – it is uncomfortable and it hurts – but it is my labor of love.”
“It is instant gratification when I donate locally because I see the babies and I see them thriving. It will have helped thousands of children. The milk at the milk bank goes to micro pre-emies, so just 1 fl oz can feed three or four babies,” Elisabeth adds. I don’t discriminate – I have donated to gay couples and to mothers who are on medication or had their breast removed due to breast cancer. It’s an amazing feeling.”