Super Producer is Saving Lives, One Ounce at a Time
Updated: Apr 29, 2019
We believe that all moms are superheroes. But what would you do if given a truly extraordinary superpower?
Spiderman taught us that: “with great power comes great responsibility.” Yet how many of us would be able to use that power as selflessly and altruistically as Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra, an Oregon mom of two who has Hyperlactation Syndrome - a condition that causes her to over produce breastmilk. And “overproduce” is a definite understatement! Elisabeth produces an abundance of milk that most moms simply cannot imagine: 230 ounces per day. That's nearly 2 gallons of breastmilk! In honor of National Superhero Day, we’ve given her the superhero name: Super Producer! And let’s be honest, she’s not just a super producer, she is THE Super Producer!
Elisabeth’s superpower first became apparent when she was just six months pregnant with her first child and her breasts began to leak large quantities of milk. Following the birth of her first child, she regularly produced up to 180 ounces of breastmilk per day. Two years later, after having her second daughter, her supply grew to her current output.
While a typical breastfeeding woman’s milk supply is determined by her baby’s demand, Elisabeth’s condition enables – insists! – that her body produce an abundance of milk without any of the normal cues from her baby. If you are a breastfeeding mom, you might think: “I wish I was a hyperlactor! It would be awesome to make all that FREE milk!” But a deeper look at the day-to-day realities of Elisabeth’s situation reveal a much more complex picture. From health-related issues to financial factors, managing Hyperlactation Syndrome has some significant costs, especially as Elisabeth has dedicated herself to giving back to those both in and out of her community.
Here are some of the challenges Elisabeth has learned to manage over the past 5 years of her superhero status:
Time: Elisabeth spends 8 to 10 hours a day managing her milk. That includes pumping, cleaning parts, bagging and labeling milk, coordinating with donors, preparing shipments for donation, etc.
Health: With such a large supply, Elisabeth’s milk ducts can get clogged quickly, so it is imperative that she never miss a pumping session. She is also prone to dehydration and must be vigilant about this, as well.
Money: Buying and maintaining four freezers for storing milk, coolers for transporting donations, pumps and parts, storage bags, cleaning supplies, increased electric and grocery bills all add up quickly.
Schedule: When we consider this as a full time job, it quickly becomes apparent that Elisabeth never gets a day off, a sick day, a mental health day, or a vacation.
In order to navigate the obstacles in her path, Elisabeth has thoughtfully developed a system for pumping and storing her excess milk and remains committed to using her superpower to help countless families. It is her self-proclaimed, “labor of love.” Since 2014, Elisabeth has donated more than 200,000 ounces of her liquid gold to milk banks and families both near and far. Along the way, she has crushed the Guinness World Record for breastmilk donated four times over. Her milk has helped NICU babies, mothers with supply troubles, and one special baby in Puerto Rico whose mother died during childbirth.
Elisabeth’s breastfeeding journey is uniquely her own and we are in complete awe of all that she does. She has made the truly exceptional a part of her daily life and - from the outside at least - makes it look easy. We marvel at her dedication and her generosity of time and spirit. Elisabeth serves as an example of the capacity for good in others and reminds us to look for ways to help those in our own breastfeeding communities (even without this particular superpower).
We hope Elisabeth has inspired you, too!
Here are some ways YOU can help:
Donate your extra milk
Donate money, time, or supplies to your local milk bank
Support breastfeeding moms with sisterhood, kind words, and laughs… lots of laughs!
Tit For Tot
For more about Elisabeth: https://oneounceatatime.com/welcome/
Follow her on social: https://www.facebook.com/1ounceatatime/
All photos courtesy of Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra