A woman in Rhinelander, Wis. is making headlines this week for donating a whopping 29 gallons of breast milk to her local milk bank, and dropping it off like a total boss. That's right — 29 gallons. (And that's not even the largest donation total on record, if you can believe it.) As Amy Bormann told ABC News recently, she'd been in the middle of breastfeeding her then 6-month-old when she realized just how much milk she'd stored away: two deep freezers full.
Knowing that most of the breast milk would probably go to waste before her baby would even be able to drink it, Bromann decided to pack it all up and put it to some good use. ("I worked in a NICU," Bormann later told ABC News, "and know how important breast milk is for premature babies.") In fact, according to a recent Daily News report, many local hospitals are now routinely offering donated breast milk for preemies, as an alternative to formula when their moms can't produce enough milk.
But Bromann also knows how important breast milk can be for babies of all ages — and just how badly local milk banks are in need of more donations. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breast milk has been found to protect against everything from respiratory infections to childhood obesity
, and most recently was even linked lowered leukemia risks
. But that's that's not all. On its website, the APP states that it "continues to support the unequivocal evidence that breastfeeding protects against a variety of diseases and conditions in the infant," including:
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Otitis media
- Urinary tract infection
- Late-onset sepsis in preterm infants
- Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- Lymphoma and Hodgkins disease
Of course, how you choose to feed your child is every parent's personal decision, and there have been studies to suggest that some breastfeeding benefits may have been overstated in the past. But for moms who can't produce milk themselves and are looking for an alternative to formula, relying on milk banks may be their only option. And according to Susan Lindekugel, a lactation consultant at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, milk banks could always use more. "We're always looking for milk," Lindekugel said in an interview with ABC. "It comes from all around the nation, the same way a blood bank works."
Naturally, the typical donation doesn't even come close to Bromann's, but the point is, every little bit counts. And in this case, Bromann's stash counts for a lot. "Most women get between 2-5 ounces every time they pump and pump 8-10 times per day. You do the math," she said. For the record, I totally just did. And if my calculations are correct, with her 3,702 ounces, Bromann could fill 411 baby bottles, or feed 17 babies for one week straight. However you slice it, that's pretty impressive, and that fact hasn't been lost on women everywhere.
Needless to say, Bromann's story has been inspiring. Particularly because... well, we all either know from experience or heard through friends just how much pumping can totally suck. And let's be honest, the sheer time Bromann put in just pumping and storing her donation deserves a round of applause all on its own.
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Thinking of donating your own breast milk? Check out Human Milk Banking of North America — a quick search will help you find your nearest milk bank
, and get any added info you may need. And if you're on the fence, Bormann just wants you to know this: despite all the time she spent behind a pump, and the care it took to store and safely transport the breast milk, the whole thing "was an amazing experience." She also pointed out that the actual approval process of dropping off the milk wasn't the pain in the butt you might think it was. Yes, there were lab tests, a little paperwork, and a note needed from her baby's pediatrician stating that he that wouldn't be needing the extra milk; but other than that, Bromann describes the experience as a piece of cake — and totally rewarding.
"It's such an easy process and I would hope that if other moms had extra milk they would donate too," she told ABC News. "It's totally worth it to keep at it a little longer. Every little bit goes a long way."
As for who beat out Bromann for the largest breast milk donation ever, that title belongs Amelia Boomker, who donated 127 gallons of breast milk. The mom of four donated her milk over a seven year period to the Mother's Milk Bank of Indianapolis and made it into the Guinness Book of World Records just last year. (So there you have it — a new record to beat.)
Image: Getty Images