We here at BabyBuddha are incredibly proud and inspired by Elisabeth! She’s an incredible super-mom who has been instrumental in the world of BabyBuddha and has done some pretty amazing and unique things. It's not everyday that someone becomes an icon, a beacon of hope for mothers across the globe. Her passionate endeavor to give, to share, and to support others has made history! We are honored to be her pump of choice for the last 5 years out of her 9 year breastfeeding journey (we know she’s tried them all).
Elisabeth is a dynamic force in the world of lactation and an embodiment of love, courage, altruism, and expertise in the breastfeeding community. Keep reading to learn all about her and what makes her situation so valuable to mothers and families all around the world.
Who Is Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra?
Elisabeth Anderson-Sierra serves as our Director of Lactation Services here at BabyBuddha Products. She is a mom of three from Beaverton, Oregon. She and her husband of 10 years, David Sierra, have two daughters and most recently welcomed a son into the world. Elisabeth’s unique experience living with this condition for the last nine years serves as a catalyst for profound knowledge, expertise, and innovation in her role at BabyBuddha. Fueled by her personal and professional mastery, she has helped transform BabyBuddha's flagship product - the BabyBuddha Electric Breast Pump - into the most efficient, customizable, hands-free option available today.
When Elisabeth was pregnant with her firstborn, she discovered that her body had given her a bit of a unique situation. When she was just 13 weeks pregnant, she began to leak breast milk. This is far earlier than expecting moms typically leak breast milk. But because there’s such a lack of education around lactating, Elisabeth felt embarrassed to bring it up or ask anyone about what was happening.
Eventually, she brought it up to her midwife, who misunderstood her when she said she was hand-pumping 40 to 50 ounces of breast milk a day by the end of her pregnancy. Her midwife thought she was talking about milliliters.
After Elisabeth’s first daughter was born, her midwife made a house visit and realized her mistake and just how much milk Elisabeth had been already producing — enough to fill two freezers! Her midwife immediately knew something was up, and at about three months postpartum, Elisabeth was diagnosed with an incredibly rare condition known as Hyperlactation Syndrome. The unique journey of Elisabeth transcends the ordinary boundaries of motherhood as Elisabeth navigates a personal world that's both fascinating and inspirational—
What Is Hyperlactation Syndrome and How Is It Different From Having an Oversupply?
While Hyperlactation Syndrome and having a simple oversupply of breastmilk may seem like similar circumstances, there are a few differences.
Oversupply is typically self-created with a supply and demand cycle. It can be any amount of milk your body makes that surpasses the needs of your baby. Oversupply can also be slightly hormone-driven, but that usually happens due to intentional demands on the body to produce more milk. A mom with oversupply can hyper lactate without having Hyperlactation Syndrome.
Hyperlactation Syndrome is when milk-making hormones, mainly prolactin, are produced in alarming excess without the intentional demands to do so. While pumping or expressing the milk may provide relief, it only aggravates the condition by causing the body to create even more prolactin.
There isn’t necessarily a certain amount of ounces per day you need to be pumping to be diagnosed with hyperlactation syndrome, though typically it is found that in most cases at least 150 ounces are produced each day. A more accurate indicator is to measure prolactin levels for off the chart abnormalities or assess for a pituitary tumor or enlarged pituitary gland.
This condition is considered rare and impacts less than 1% of breast-feeding mothers. Unfortunately very little is known about the type of extreme hyperlactation syndrome that Elisabeth experiences. Currently, she pumps around 200 oz of breast milk daily, which is 10 times the daily amount an average mom pumps.
In Elisabeth’s case, her body produces an off-the-chart amount of prolactin, a hormone produced by the pituitary gland. Prolactin is vital for breast milk production but can be a sign of a problem when produced in excess. Excessive amounts of prolactin could be caused by a tumor in the pituitary gland, but that is not the case for Elisabeth. She has an enlarged pituitary gland which developed during her first pregnancy and has not resumed its normal size. Subsequent pregnancies have continued to add to the enlargement.
The toll on body and mind is profound - needing to maintain hydration and nutrition that could rival an Olympic athlete, and the mental acrobatic circus just to meet life's basic demands. Her days are consumed by a routine as meticulous as clockwork — pumping, hydrating, nourishing, resting, motherhood, running a household, working… It’s a whirlwind of endless tasks, leaving her weary yet filled with a strangely empowering satisfaction.
Then there's the medical minefield: plummeting blood sugar and insufferable headaches, combatting clogged ducts to avoid mastitis at all costs, but when those battles win countless ER trips then become familiar as a daily commute. IV fluids, numerous doctors' appointments – things reserved for ER sitcom drama become a glaring reality. Not to mention the financial burden of medical needs, supplements, pumping equipment, freezers, milk bags, and ceaseless grocery runs as if experiencing puberty as a teen boy - an unimpeded drain on the wallet.
Excessive levels of prolactin can also cause infertility, which Elisabeth and David experienced after their second daughter was born. They sadly had several early pregnancy losses. Eventually, it was discovered that Elisabeth’s progesterone levels were too low to sustain a pregnancy, and she was put on a prescription to counteract the hormone imbalance in order to sustain a viable pregnancy. She and her family recently welcomed a beautiful rainbow baby boy into the world!
In short, hyperlactation is different from a standard oversupply. Oversupply is typically created by supply and demand of the natural hormone-driven feedback loop, whereas hyperlactation is aggressively hormone-driven and further aggravated by demand.
She is the first to say “This condition is not the norm, or something to compare to- or strive for, it is a very serious medical condition.”
How Many Gallons of Breast Milk Has Elisabeth Donated?
Elisabeth was recently named in the Guinness Book of World Records for Most Breast Milk Donated by an Individual. This record reflects her donations to a specific milk bank over the course of three years and totals over 54,000 ounces!
Turning adversity into opportunity, Elisabeth's astounding production capacity has empowered a grand act of benevolence. That being said, she has made hundreds of other donations that are not recorded in that single milk bank record, and she has calculated that she has donated over 350,000 ounces of breast milk in total. She donates to a milk bank for micropreemies and is a huge supporter of safe family-to-family milk sharing. The tears, the anxiety, the helplessness, all turned around by the gift of Breast Milk Donation. One can't help but be in awe of this universal bond of motherhood transcending families through milk donation.
Dubbing her condition her 'Labor of Love,' Elisabeth aspires to assist countless mothers in her community and beyond. Extending beyond milk donation, she hopes to inspire others in the community to normalize breastfeeding and normalize milk sharing. Redefining the term 'failure to thrive' into 'strength to conquer'!
World Record Donations: Sending Breast Milk Around the Globe
Elisabeth has also helped families globally by shipping her breast milk to areas in need. One donation that she is especially joyful to talk about is the story of a little boy in Puerto Rico.
After Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, Elisabeth and David visited the island to celebrate family cultural holidays, and rather than flying home with thousands of ounces of milk, she left behind a milk donation with a relative. Through a local pediatrician, her breast milk made its way to a widower and his three-month-old son, Joaquin.
Joaquin’s mother had passed away during childbirth shortly after Hurricane Maria hit the island, and he wasn’t thriving with any type of formula. Enter our super mom Elisabeth. For over a year, she sent her breast milk to Puerto Rico for Joaquin, who began to thrive and grow and is now a healthy little boy. Elisabeth helped save his life, and she recently shared on a podcast that she’s grateful she gets to see him when they visit her husband’s family in Puerto Rico.
One Ounce At A Time (OOAAT): A Labor of Love
One of Elisabeth’s biggest passions is educating women on all things breastfeeding, pumping, and especially flange sizing. This is why Elisabeth started her social media platforms, One Ounce At A Time. She offers education, answers questions, and does live streams on her social media to help support women everywhere. She understands that she has a unique perspective to offer, taking great care to ensure that comparisons are not made to her condition.
OOAAT supports thousands of mamas and encourages every individual to love their journey no matter what it looks like, knowing that their worth is not measured in ounces or drops. Because of her passionate experience with all things breastfeeding and pumping, Elisabeth is able to support thousands of mamas in many different ways.
While Elisabeth admits that she has at times felt resentful towards her hyperlactation, she tries really hard to see it as a labor of love and focuses on all of the women, babies, and families she’s been able to help. She’s donated to families who have done surrogacy, same-sex couples as well as mom-to-mom community milk sharing.
While having an excess of breast milk may seem like a dream to some women who struggle to produce, Elisabeth cautions that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. She has been hospitalized several times for severe dehydration, mastitis, and malnutrition because of how hard her body works to create the breast milk. She has to take several supplements a day to keep up with her body’s essential needs.
In terms of slowing down her production, she’s tried all the standard ways to do this to no avail. Currently, her doctors believe that without severe medical intervention, production will continue: This means that to stop her breast milk from producing, she will either have to take a drastic medication route with several adverse side effects or have a double mastectomy.
In the meantime, she’s in no rush to make that decision and is happy to focus on all the good she is able to do, as well as support the current breastfeeding journey she has with her new little one.
While her condition is far from normal, it is her normal.
How Elisabeth Makes Pumping Work for Her
Elisabeth talks very openly about how she has tried just about every pump on the market. She has likened standard pumps to a ball and chain because of how restrictive they can feel. She understandably had a hard time constantly being tied down to something the size of a soccer ball with how demanding her pumping schedule is.
Her rigorous pumping schedule, milk storage routine, and daily cleaning/sterilization of equipment were beginning to affect every area of her life, and she was desperate for something different. She longed for something that would allow her to be mobile, but there were no good portable pumps on the market. When BabyBuddha reached out and asked Elisabeth to try BabyBuddha's Portable Electric Breast Pump, she was blown away and so relieved to have her freedom back.
Now that she has the ability to move around while she is pumping, she pumps whenever and wherever. Whether she is driving her kids to school, in the airport, washing her pump parts, or sitting in the comfort of her own home, she can pump easily and discreetly when she needs to.
Elisabeth’s Partnership With BabyBuddha
Elisabeth initially joined BabyBuddha as an independent contractor to help with our lactation consultant services, but her role quickly morphed into so much more. Now she’s a full-on employee at BabyBuddha; she has a vital role in several areas of our company. Whether it’s lactation services, serving as our spokeswoman, designing graphics, leading our Social Media, consulting on product development and design, or managing other Top Secret projects, Elisabeth is a key piece to the BabyBuddha team.
Check out this blurb from Elisabeth on “WHY this pump is an absolute life-changer”
“First, it's incredibly small and lightweight, smaller than my cellphone and the design doesn’t scream ‘I’m a Breast Pump’ It has a full range of suction options to accommodate both very gentle expression and those stronger levels that are needed by some, like me!
The pump also has a unique suction pattern in the stimulation mode that maximizes the potential for oxytocin release- which stimulates the milk ejection reflex- aka the letdown. This helps with the stimulation response in the milk-making hormone feedback loop and subsequent letdowns are achieved easier and quicker. Demand = Supply
But here's what truly sets BabyBuddha apart: The ability to customize this pump to use exactly the right flange size and ANY component out there that you need or want to use. I call it the Dynamic Duo- pairing a perfect fit with a powerhouse pump… you are literally unstoppable. Tailored to your own body and needs, the balance of comfort, mobility, empowerment, and efficiency is unmatched. You won't find this in a plug-in option, a wearable option, or the latest amazon cheapie made in unethical conditions.
It is designed around YOU and your needs.
Because I understand that your comfort & convenience matter just as much as your baby's nutrition.
Because you deserve the freedom to be present without compromise.
Not only has it profoundly impacted my life, but I'm so honored to have been actively helping behind the scenes for the last 5 years to make it even more incredible and supportive of our Breastfeeding Goals
With continued insights from real moms like you and me, we're creating new ways to support, nourish and empower each breastfeeding mom. We deserve the best in our breastfeeding experiences and BabyBuddha has been just that for me and thousands of mamas worldwide- feeding our little ones One Ounce At A Time.”
As mentioned previously, something that Elisabeth is very passionate about is proper flange sizing. When you don’t have a properly sized flange, it can break your whole feeding journey. This is why Elisabeth was so instrumental in spearheading BabyBuddha’s wide range of available flange sizes.
Before we widened the range of flange sizes, not every pumping person could find a match. Now, they can! She also helped break through this field, helping pumping mamas use the equipment that best served their bodies with our powerhouse pump.
As our director of lactation services, she’s here to ensure that all BabyBuddha clients have the best care and access to lactation consultants so they can feel comfortable and confident in their breastfeeding and pumping journey.
Elisabeth, you've sparked a fire within us all to change a global conversation. Thank you for your inspiring efforts. Together, we reshape our world one breastfeeding, or bottle-feeding, or milk-sharing experience at a time.
Here at BabyBuddha, we are thrilled to have Elisabeth as part of our team. She is an invaluable resource not only to our company but to the many women who purchase our products. Her situation isn’t the normal or the ideal, but she uses it to help and bless others. While some call her a “milk goddess,” she understands she’s been given a gift, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
Each journey commences with a single step, or in our case as pumping mamas, a single drop. Elisabeth is embarking on an incredible mission - breaking the world record for ‘Most Breast Milk Donated by an Individual” - not to set records - but to spark conversations, ignite compassion, and inspire others worldwide!
To every mother out there, Elisabeth echoes:
“YOU are doing an amazing job. Remember that your worth is not measured in ounces. Whether it's a single drop or an entire bottle, every drop given to your baby or shared with others is monumental. Every drop makes a difference!”
Our aim is to normalize milksharing, to unite us in a common purpose of giving, sharing, and caring for those innocents who need it the most. It’s about embracing motherhood in all its joy, sacrifices, and blessings, as we let our love flow - One Ounce At A Time.
But this isn't a sob story. It's a saga of strength, a narrative where sleepless nights molds perseverance and hardship hones heroism. Every pumping session, every bag of milk frozen, every sleepless night, they shape my story.
A final statement from Elisabeth:
“While my hands may always be full, so is my heart. Every pumping session is a manifestation of my love, my dedication, and my unwavering determination. Yes, it is tiresome, yet it is equally rewarding, because every drop is precious and every drop counts.
This is my journey. It's rigorous, it's unrelenting, and it's overwhelming at times on many levels. But more importantly, it's empowering, it’s inspiring, it's making a difference, and it's mine.”
Thank you, Elisabeth, for all you do within this community, you have made a huge impact in the lives of hundreds of families and recipients worldwide.
Do you have a donation or recipient story to share? Please share with us on Instagram or email email@example.com