Is it something in the water? Because according to Guinness World Records, several North Texas women are among the most prolific producers of breastmilk in the world.
Until July 24th, Brittani Goodson was the world record holder for Most Breastmilk Donated.
"My Guinness World Record is 33,410 U.S. fluid ounces," she says. That's more than 261 gallons.
Goodson took donation seriously.
“To keep it from getting chaotic, I pumped everywhere,” she says. “It just became a part of life. We never left the house without a pump.”
Goodson pumped six to eight times a day – when she was sick in the hospital, even while driving. Her original goal was to produce enough milk for the first year of her son’s life. But she says her body just wouldn’t slow down production.
“I took what felt like bad news and turned it into great news for everyone else,” Goodson says. “I just wanted to help them.”
Milk as medicine
“Human milk is an essential medication for use in the preterm infant,” says neonatologist David Weisoly, medical director for Pediatrix Medical Group. “It is really the only thing we know of that can improve long term development in premature infants.”
That’s why hospitals across the country are turning to milk banks for supplies.
Amy Vickers, the executive director of the Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas, says the building resembles both a blood bank and a dairy processing plant. The organization counts six of its donors among the recent Guinness World Record holders for most breast milk donated.
“The need for human donor milk right after we opened just skyrocketed,” Vickers says.
Ten years ago, the milk bank dispensed 5,000 ounces.
Now, the bank dispenses 400,000 ounces annually.
About 23,000 of those ounces came from Katy Edgington of Fort Worth. She held the world record for milk donated between June 30 and July 15.
“[Nurses] started calling me Elsie because I was producing so much!” she says.
Edgington’s youngest child, Riley, was born with a condition called Laryngomalacia where the larynx doesn’t form properly. He’s been hospitalized several times. When he was young, he wasn’t eating much, so she had extra milk.
When Edgington learned it could save lives, she says she saw an opportunity to give back.
“I feel like it was me and Riley in it together because it was his milk,” she says. “He was sharing his milk. If he wouldn’t have been sick, I don’t think I would have been able to donate near as much.”
All donors wanted
At the milk bank, women who donate large quantities are called super producers. Dr. Weisoly says that may not be a medical term, but some women do super produce.
“What is normal for one, sometimes could be double or triple that is still normal in another mother,” he says. “And some of the hormones may be at higher levels in the mothers who are these super producers of breast milk.”
Everything from stress levels to whether a mom is able to have physical contact with her baby can influence milk production. But in general, Weisoly says, within a few weeks of birth, moms may pump a few ounces every three hours. And the more you pump, the more you produce.
At the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas, Vickers says her organization expects to screen and approve more than 800 women this year as donors.
“Whether a mom donates 100 or 1,000 ounces, it’s very, very valuable,” she says. “And we like to mix as many moms together in a batch because it broadens the immunological properties, it just makes the milk better. So we need small donors, medium donors, large-volume donors. We need them all.”
Meet the record holders
The Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas counts six of its donors among recent and current Guinness World Record holders for most breast milk donated:
Alyse Ogletree of Argyle — donated 53,081 ounces
Brittani Goodson of Fort Worth — donated 33,410 ounces
Katy Edgington of Fort Worth — donated 23,251 ounces
Karen Merheb of Dallas — donated 14,243 ounces
Sara Pascale of Fairview — donated 11,200 ounces
Alicia Richman of Granbury — donated 11,115 ounces
Source: Mothers’ Milk Bank of North Texas