The Boomker family, Amelia and Jim and their sons, Daniel (9), Liam (6), Ryan (4) and Connor, 18 months. / Submitted photo
Only one of her four sons actually breastfed - and he did so for only a few weeks. But that didn't stop Amelia Boomker from setting the Guinness World Record for breast milk donation.
The Illinois woman has donated 16,321 ounces of breast milk - the equivalent of 816 Venti Starbucks cup or 241 two-liter soda bottles - to the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank over the past seven years.
That does not include the 7,000 ounces Boomker, 36, pumped after her first son was born nine years ago. That milk was shipped off to a North Carolina breast milk bank. Nor does it include the milk she fed to her own children, each of whom drank breast milk exclusively for more than a year.
"I have never really successfully breastfed, but I have produced a whole lot of milk," she said.
Milk banks rely on donated milk to help sick or premature infants whose own mothers are unable to provide them with human milk. Experts believe pasteurized donor milk provides these most vulnerable infants with a raft of benefits, including protecting against disease and allergies and helping a baby grow.
Boomker, who lives in Bolingbrook, Ill., started pumping a few days after her oldest child, Danny was born. He had a heart condition that required multiple surgeries, and the doctors told her breast milk might aid in his recoveries. Four days after his birth, he was wheeled to the operating room for the first surgery.
"I started pumping since he was not there. That was all I could do," she said.
Danny didn't have the strength to latch. Boomker's next child had a high palate and couldn't breastfeed either. She had a difficult recovery after her third child's c-section birth and opted to pump rather than breastfeed.
Her baby Connor, now 18 months old, tried for a few weeks but then opted for the bottle.
Boomker had an alternative: Pumping.
With each child, she would pump between eight and 10 times a day for about 20 minutes each time. In all, she'd spend about three hours a day pumping. She'd set the alarm so she could pump every few hours throughout the night. After the first eight weeks, when she returned to work, she'd drop to eight pumps a day.
Boomker would pump more than enough to feed her sons, and she'd donate the rest.
The office where she works in corporate IT proved incredibly understanding, allowing her to take conference calls from the lactation room.
When her first child was born, the Indiana Mother's Milk Bank had not opened. It had opened by the time Liam, now 6, was born. Boomker started donating through the Indiana bank from from February 2008 through September 2013.
She used to have to ship her milk but in the past year or so she took advantage of one of the depots, which will accept donations and then ship them to Indianapolis for processing. The bank distributes milk in Indiana and throughout the Midwest.
When her youngest child turned 1, the bank only accepted donations from mothers for up to a year post-partum. Although the bank recently changed that policy, Boomker's supply has diminished enough so that she's no longer donating.
Still, she hopes her setting the record will shine light on milk donation and bring more donors to the milk bank.
And the certificate she got for her efforts has certainly been nice, she said.
"I went into work and showed the people this is why I have been sitting in the pump room for all those hours," she said.
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