Got milk? As a new mother, Alicia Richman of Granbury, Texas, had lots of milk, and she now holds the new Guinness World Record for “Most Breastmilk Donated.” Richman pumped, stored and donated 11,115 ounces of breastmilk to The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas between June 2011 and March 2012. Last month Guinness World Records™ certified that she broke the previous record held by another American woman by more than 3,000 ounces.
The recipient of Richman’s milk, The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, is a nonprofit human milk bank that provides donor breastmilk to neonatal intensive care units to feed premature and critically ill babies. The Milk Bank honored Richman at their annual luncheon in September.
Richman, whose son was born in March 2011, began pumping her milk shortly after he was born. By the time she returned to work when he was 10 weeks old, she realized she had more than enough to feed her son. “I was so blessed to have more milk than I needed,” says Richman, whose son is now 19 months old. “I pumped at work, on vacations, in the car. And I never had to buy formula.”
When she had filled two freezers with pumped milk in plastic bags and bottles, she realized that she needed to put it to use or she would have to throw it away. “I started searching the Internet to find out what I could do with these freezers full of milk, and that’s when I learned about The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas.”
For the first year of her son’s life, Richman regularly donated her stored breastmilk. When she passed the 7,000 ounce mark, Simone Summerlin, who handles donor relations for the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, told her that she was on her way to being one of their largest volume milk donors. Her Guinness World Record donation of 11,115 ounces is equivalent to 86.8 gallons.
“Alicia’s generous gift of human milk has fed hundreds, and more likely, thousands of premature babies across the United States,” explains Amy Vickers, executive director of The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas. “Three ounces of donor human milk could be as much as nine feedings for a premature baby. We know that she’s changed lives all over Texas and beyond, and we are proud to see her earn this recognition from Guinness World Records. ”
Richman decided to pursue a Guinness World Record designation to bring awareness to the cause of nonprofit, community milk banks such as the one in North Texas. “I encourage everyone to beat me,” she says, adding “though I’m planning to beat my own record when we have a second baby.”
The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas accepts donated milk from fully screened, healthy, breastfeeding mothers whose infants are under one year old. The donated milk is processed, tested for bacteria and frozen until ordered by a physician.
“We depend on donors like Alicia to sustain and grow our fragile infants whose mothers cannot provide them with their own milk,” says Erin Hamilton Spence, MD, a Fort Worth neonatologist and former milk donor. “Her ‘extra’ milk saves lives.”
About The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas
The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas (MMBNT) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 to provide premature and critically ill infants with donor human milk when their own mother’s milk is not available. To donate breastmilk, please email moms(at)texasmilkbank(dot)org or call 817.810.0071 or toll-free 1.866.810.0071. Learn more about milk banking at http://www.texasmilkbank.org.
Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra was diagnosed with Hyperlactation syndrome and at 29 years, produces about 200 ounces of milk daily. Yes, daily. This is akin to producing 25 standard sized cups of breast milk everyday. More than enough to feed her two babies, ages two and a half and six months. She talks to a mothers blogging site, What To Expect, about her experience and the drive to begin donating her excess milk to babies in need.
I had an oversupply with my first-born, but I wasn’t officially diagnosed with Hyperlactation syndrome until after the birth of my second daughter, when I started producing even more milk.
When I was pregnant with Isabella, I started researching milk donation and pumping. I had no idea how much milk my body would produce, and I had zero experience with it. I just knew milk donation was something I wanted to do. I’ve donated blood for years because my blood type is rare, so I wanted to continue donating something while breastfeeding. I started pumping a week after giving birth and connected with other donor mamas to get tips and information on pumping and donating. I’ve been donating for more than two years now.
I’m now 6 months postpartum with Sophia, my second daughter, and I’m pumping an average of 225 ounces — about 1.75 gallons — per day on top of breastfeeding my baby. To date, I’ve donated over 78,000 ounces — that’s more than 600 gallons of milk.
I send half to the milk bank and I donate the other half to local families I find via Facebook, mom groups, support groups and friends.
I signed up with Tiny Treasures Milk Bank. I love their mission. They use donor breast milk to produce fortifiers that they sell to hospitals nationwide. The hospitals then give it to micropreemies, or babies who are born weighing less than 1 pound, 12 ounces, or who are born before 26 weeks. Because the milk fortifier is deemed a medical necessity, the hospitals don’t charge the families; instead they charge the patient’s insurance company. No patient’s insurance is rejected. Tiny Treasures provides bags for the donations and pays me $1 per ounce of milk.
Any milk bank tests both the donor and all the milk that comes in. My blood is drawn every 123 days, and it is sent to Tiny Treasure’s labs for testing. This ensures that there’s no outside tampering. They test my blood for all communicable diseases as well as drugs. Milk is also DNA-matched to me, so I could never send in another mom’s milk with mine and have it pass. If I were to be found in violation of any of the rules – if there were drugs in my system, some kind of infection or if I were to have tampered with the milk, for example — I’d be dropped as a donor.
I lose about 50 percent of the money I make to taxes. Donating to a milk bank has helped offset costs of donating locally. When you produce as much as I do, the costs are definitely a roadblock. But I’m not really making any money off this — the money I get from donating to the milk bank just goes back into donating locally.
Breast pumps are not cheap. I have burned through more than 10 breast pumps. I buy milk bags for the milk I donate locally; I estimate I use 20 to 40 bags per day, depending on how much milk I put in them. I need pumping bras for good support and compression, one at each pumping station and I wash them every day or every other day to maintain cleanliness.
Breast pads, changed out at every pump, add up quick. I use the disposable pads because cloth can harbor bacteria. Nipple creams are another expense. I replace my pump parts and bottles approximately every three months or whenever they start wearing out so that I stay compliant with the donation standards. I spend a lot of time washing and sterilizing my pump parts (water, distilled water, de-scaling powder, soap, bottle brushes, pump part brushes, sterilizers and vinegar are some of the costs there) in order to donate to micropreemies. Their tiny systems cannot have any bad bacteria strains introduced to them. I keep three sterilizers and 10 sets of pump parts in rotation.
I also have three freezers I use to store the milk until it is donated or shipped out. I pay for the space they take up and the electricity it takes to keep them at the coldest settings possible. [Also], food! All those extra calories I need and bottled water with added electrolytes…the grocery bill is a little outrageous at times — probably $400 a week. I can write off some of the expenses, like some of the breast pump equipment, but I can’t write off the groceries.
Probably the most expensive price I pay in order to donate milk is my time. I spend four to five hours a day pumping and probably eight to 10 hours a day in total doing everything else that goes with it: washing and sterilizing, setting up and breaking down the equipment to pump, actually pumping, bagging milk, weighing the milk, labeling, laying [everything] out to freeze, organizing and storing the milk. That’s on top of time spent keeping up with my milk bank qualification and organizing local donations. This is time away from my family, my kids. I also can’t just take a day off…I can’t even take a pump off! Luckily, I am married to an amazing husband, David Sierra. He is my number one supporter, and he knows this is really important to me and supports me fully.
A young mother, from Exeter, Great Britain, is selling her breast milk online, to earn extra cash, while on maternity leave.26-year-old Toni Ebdon gave birth to a boy, earlier this year, and was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the amount of breast milk she was producing. One of her friends even joked that she should start a dairy, with the extra milk, and cash-strapped Toni took the idea seriously. Using a breast pump she drained the excess milk and stored it in the freezer. Next she went online and put an ad for breast milk, on Gumtree.
Although she was expecting some replies from new mothers who couldn’t produce enough breast milk for their babies, Toni Ebdon was surprised to find that most of the interested clients were men. It might sound weird, but many adults use breast milk to maintain good health, or cure illnesses such as cancer, diarrhea, or diabetes. Toni charges $26 for 113 grams of her precious milk, and sells it both fresh and stored in the fridge.
The young mother says she hasn’t made loads pf money from selling her breast milk, but since she doesn’t receive full maternity pay, and the baby’s father isn’t able to support them, the extra income is more than welcome. Toni will continue selling breast milk until she dries up, and she’ll definitely do it again, if she has another baby.
Amelia Boomker has just set the Guinness World Record for pumping and donating 16,321 fluid ounces of breast milk to the Indiana Mothers’ Milk Bank in Indianapolis between 2008 and 2013. That equals more than 127 gallons (yes, gallons) of breast milk!