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Ep. 63- The Badass Working Mom Behind Ceres Chill: interview with inventor Lisa Myers, Breastmilk Storage Guidelines, and more

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This is Maureen Farrell and Heather O’Neal, and this is The Milk Minute. We’re midwives and lactation professionals bringing you the most up-to-date evidence for all things lactation. So you can feel more confident about feeding your baby, body positivity, relationships, and mental health. Plus, we laugh a little or a lot along the way.

Heather O’Neal: So join us for another episode. All right, everybody. We have a very special guest today. Lisa Myers with Ceres Chill. But first, before we get into this interview, we’re going to take a listener question and today’s might get you a little fired up because it definitely spoke to my little midwife heart. So this question is from Shakira O. She says I’m currently breastfeeding my almost two-year-old son and I’m 32 weeks pregnant. My aunt is telling me to cut my son off cold turkey because he is taking all the nutrients from the baby. Is that even possible? What do you have to say to that?

Maureen Farrell: First I have to say, wow. Second, I have to say, please, don’t listen to that advice because it’s not accurate. And that’s the nicest way I can say it. Yeah, here’s the thing. You are both growing a baby and you’re growing a baby in your uterus and you’re feeding your baby at your breast from your body. Your body is supplying nutrients for both of those humans and they’re not stealing it from each other. What?

Heather O’Neal: This is also kind of along the same lines of you need to eat more when you’re pregnant. I mean, you might you don’t need to eat. I mean, sometimes, but you don’t really need to eat more. You can eat more because your metabolism is higher and you’re burning more calories because you are making a human, but you know, it’s not a hard and fast rule. It’s not like if you don’t eat more, your baby won’t grow. Your baby will grow. Your body will prioritize your baby and you’ll just get skinnier. So yeah, you’re, if anyone’s going to be affected, it’s going to be you.

Maureen Farrell: Right. Well, we’re going to tell you is if you want to keep breastfeeding, keep breastfeeding. And you know, it is a great idea to maybe be taking some extra multivitamins or, you know, nourishing your body in the best way that you can, because both of those lovely little humans are going to be stealing your nutrients.

Heather O’Neal: Right. From you, not from each other.

Maureen Farrell: No, that’s not. This is not twin to twin transfusion somehow. That is not what’s happening.

Heather O’Neal: That’s not what’s happening. So anyways, hope that helps. And also, just as an aside, I wouldn’t probably take that aunt’s advice on anything breastfeeding related from this point on.

Maureen Farrell: No, we’re not, we’re not going to do that.

Heather O’Neal: You guys, just pick and choose who you decide to care to listen to. You can do a lot of smiling and nodding as you move through this process.

Maureen Farrell: Oh, goodness. Well, good luck with all of that. And why don’t we go chat with Lisa?

Heather O’Neal: Yes, let’s do it.

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Heather O’Neal: Today, we have a very special guest, Lisa Myers. She is the inventor of the Ceres Chill. And if you don’t know what that is already, you’re about to find out. And it’s going to be a game changer, especially if you’re a busy mom. I mean, who isn’t a busy mom? But if you’re one that has to pump at work all the time, this is truly a game changer and we’re going to learn about the product, but we’re also going to learn about this incredible woman behind the product. So Lisa, welcome to The Milk Minute. We appreciate you coming here today.

Lisa Myers: Thanks so much! I am so excited to be on your guys’ podcast cause I love it. I love it so much. I never thought I would be such a participant in this space and like the breastfeeding space, but it’s become my passion. And I it’s, it’s what I think I’m now called to do is to advocate for breastfeeding parents.

And it’s just, I love what you guys do. And I love the space that you’ve created because it is it’s, it’s a place where all women can, and men can feel comfortable and, and pursue their breastfeeding goals, whatever those are. And not, there’s just no shame. And like the expectations are that you look after yourself and you do what’s best for your baby.

And that’s like, that’s what I’m all about now. So, yeah. And then Ceres Chill, that’s part of it. That’s, that’s why I’m really here in this world, in this space and able to speak to you guys because I really quick, how I got there. With my daughter, I quote, failed and I was not able to exclusively breastfeed her for, I don’t know, a million reasons that I won’t probably ever truly understand what happened.

I was in labor for, I always get it mixed up, whether it was 54 or 56, but once you get past like a couple of days and a couple nights, like the hours really become less and less meaningful. And so at the end of the ordeal, I had an emergency C-section. And after they plucked my daughter from my belly, after several hours, I, I nursed her, but I didn’t know anything about breastfeeding, nor did she. We were both learning like all moms and babies do when they meet each other.

And she started crying and she wouldn’t stop crying. And I was sure it’s because I didn’t have enough milk. I was like, I’m not like, there’s no milk flowing from my breast. So I clearly don’t have enough milk. And I begged and pleaded with my husband to go get someone to help us because she was starving, and I was failing her, and we needed to figure it out.

And the nurse resisted, resisted, resisted, and then slipped me some like little, the little Similac, you know, bottles, like it was crack cocaine. Right. And she was like, don’t tell anyone I gave this to you. And as soon as they gave it to my daughter, Teagan, she was better. Right. So she probably just because she had something to distract her or being able to like suck on something.

But my lactation consultant that I ended up getting help from with my son, years later said, Lisa, she probably had a headache. Like anything could have been going on for her. Imagine, like it’s been 54, 56 hours of labor. They with like surgical intervention and you know, maybe her head hurt or, or like anything could have been going on and it wasn’t your fault, and you didn’t necessarily need to feed her formula.

So of course from that moment on, my supply, wasn’t there. And I don’t blame that woman. I have to say, and then I will, I will stop with this part of the story, but I came to after surgery because I was so exhausted, I just passed right out. Right. And I came to, and I look up on the board, you know, at the hospital and it’s, they list your goals for the day.

And the goal was exclusively breastfeed. And I was like, oh, oh, I guess that’s what I’m going to try to do. Like, no one consulted me. I, I, I do want to do that, but it was just kind of like, that’s your goal. That’s what you’re going to do today. And I was like, can I also try to keep myself and the baby alive in whatever way that looks?

So yeah, and then I had my son years later after having a miscarriage, I got, we got pregnant and then had my son and I went back to work after three months. And this is how we get to Ceres Chill at long, last. And I worked with all men, and I was so proud of myself.

I had all the pump parts. I’m like, I’m doing it. This is happening. And I pumped the milk and there was like quite a bit of milk. And I was really pleased with myself. And I’m like, oh no. There’s just these little bottles, all lined up on my, my desk, like right next to, you know, my legal files and my computer. And I’m like, when these guys come in, it’s going to be awkward.

Not that they aren’t supportive, but they’re like, Ooh, so you’re lactating. Like that milk came from, like. I was going to talk to you about a case but now I think I might, I’ll be back in a couple of months, like, is that when we do this? So yeah, so I, oh my gosh. So I couldn’t figure it out. So I tucked the bottles in my suit pockets.

I went to the communal fridge. I put them on the little shelf in the fridge. I’m like, that’s not right. So then I went to office services, and I got a paper bag and I put them in the paper bag and then I put them in the fridge and then I hustled them home. And I just I’m like, geez, I got to get this piece figured out.

Like, this is where I really dropped the ball. And so I go to look for, you know, the, the breast milk, the convenient bottle to chill your breast milk and keep it safe. And no, it’s not there. Like coolers, lots, and lots and lots of coolers. Variations from $14 awful ones up to $250 awful ones. And I was like, so I’m not doing that.

I don’t need another bag. Like that is definitely not what I’m doing. And my friends at work were like, Lisa, that is what there is. I’m like impossible, impossible. That is so atrocious. It’s like plastic, chemical freeze pack, impossible. And they’re like, get over it. And finally, my friend who’s in labor employment department, different department, bought me my first cooler.

Cause she, I refused and she’s like, you have to do something. And this is the only thing you can do. Damn it I’m making this bottle happen because this is the worst thing ever. Like the fact that moms have zero choice and breast milk storage technology is stuck in like the stone ages. I mean, everything else in the world is advanced, including breast pumps, thank God, and we’re still stuck with like a chemical freeze pack, and I will stop in one second.

I’m just so excited to talk with you guys. But if you forget that freeze pack, you’re double screwed. Right? So I would wake up in the morning, like so many moms, just exhausted, barely functioning. Got to get to work. And I would be like, get the cooler together. And I would like get the bottle. And then I’d like be looking for the cooler.

And like, I left it in my work bag. Cause you know, you walk through the door and the baby’s crying or dinner’s ready or any number of good or bad things are happening to you and you set it down and then you don’t put it away. And you, so now your milk’s bad, cause it’s been overnight, and you don’t have the freeze pack because you probably don’t have a spare one.

And now, so you’re like double screwed. You lost all that milk and you’re not ready for today. And it’s like, that’s the last thing in the world you need. So Ceres Chill is just a few cubes of ice and you put them in wherever you are, whenever is most convenient. It will keep your milk cold. It’ll bring it down from body temperature to refrigerated temperature in like a couple of minutes, a few minutes, much faster than the cooler.

And then it’ll keep it there for 20 hours. And if you need more time, you just add more ice, and you don’t have to remember to freeze anything overnight and you don’t have to feel like a horrible person if you forget it in your work bag. I’ve had moms who were stationed at Fort Hood in Texas reach out to me with emails, say, it was two moms that said they had left their chillers in their car in the afternoon and then like run out to get it the next morning and like Claudia, she’s just the coolest person. And she said, I almost started crying when I realized what I had done. And she said, and I picked the chiller up out of the car and I she’s, like, I heard the ice clink around and she’s like, and I did start crying cause it was totally fine.

My milk was fine. And so yeah, now I’m just like, I’m on a mission to make the bottle as affordable and accessible as possible. And then also like there’s a bunch of other stuff I’m doing in this space. I mean, I’ve talked to you guys a little bit, but there’s a bunch of like arbitrary rules about breast milk storage that makes zero sense. And I’m, I’m done with that.

Heather O’Neal: Yeah. Oh, we’re getting into that. Trust me.

Maureen Farrell: I’m so excited to talk about that because we get questions about it all the time and we’re like, you know what? These are the guidelines, and I don’t actually know if there’s real evidence behind it. Like yeah, it’s, it’s frustrating for sure. But I, I just, I love that story. I love hearing from you and how excited you are about this because I think you know; your challenge is just such a common one. And we hear from this all the time, people who, even if they have a great place to pump, they’re like, yeah, but I have this fridge, that’s one floor down and it’s shared with every other employee. And it’s super weird to put my boob juice in there.

Heather O’Neal: This is, I’m totally showing all my cards here and it, you guys are gonna like kick me out of my position of power for sure when you hear this. But when I was in nursing school, I would actually, so I’m at the hospital, but taking classes like three quarters of a mile away in a connected building, but it’s like super far. And so I would have to leave class and walk to the only pumping room in the hospital, like three quarters of a mile away, wait my turn, pump, and then walk all the way back, carrying my backpack and my pumping bag and all my extra stuff. Cause some of it’s wet now cause you have to wash it out.

And so eventually I was just so tired, postpartum and being in nursing school, I would literally bring like a plastic garbage bag, you know, like a grocery bag. And I just throw everything in there and be like, screw it. Like this is what’s happening. And people would be like, Heather, why are you always carrying around a little bag of garbage?

Yeah, I, when I saw the Ceres Chill, I was like, hmm, that would have been helpful because I could have just put that cute little thermos in the side pocket of my north face backpack to walk my quarter mile and people wouldn’t be like wondering what it is. And when you’re telling me that you had all those little bottles of breast milk on your desk and all the men coming in and looking at it, they’re seeing body fluid.

You know, there, you might as well have little tiny cups of urine on your desk as far as they’re concerned. And of course we don’t see it that way, but I think a lot of people do. Like body fluid. That’s how you get diseases. And she just has it there on top of her files. And so it’s a nice to have it like a little discreet, not because it is dirty or gross, but because you’re busy at work and you don’t want to have to explain to people what it is. Like just, you don’t need one more thing to separate you from being a normal person in the office.

You know, you’re just a pumping mom who’s at work. You don’t need to be like that person that’s always like taking up the space in the lunchroom refrigerator. I don’t know. I feel like this is almost a great equalizer for high powered working women. And can I just say sometimes when people get impassioned, like you did, they’ll like, you know, start a support group, or donate some money to some kind of organization. You went like full tilt and invented an entire product while working as a lawyer.

Maureen Farrell: That’s what I want to know about like, okay, great. I totally understand the history and why you decided this was needed, but oh my God. So then you went from that to actually making a product and starting a business. What the heck? That’s incredible. How did that happen?

Lisa Myers: Okay. So this is the part where I have to like, resist like crying because it’s so it’s, it’s not about it’s happy tears, happy tears. It’s the only way I did it was with the insanely awesome community around me. I am like, kind of by nature, a lone wolf. I’m the eldest child.

I grew up on a farm. I learned, you know, you just work really hard and wake up and do it again. And I, and my husband was a medivac pilot at the time. He is now serving in the U S Army, and he’s deployed, but I just, you know, you just do it and you just, and I, I typically would do it, whatever it was by myself.

And so when I had this idea, and I saw how much of a need there was for it. And I was so outraged it didn’t exist, I, you know, went to a couple people that I knew in the office. I’m lucky I’m not an IP attorney. I could never even touch that level of awesome law. I’m a litigator. So I’m just like the Perry Mason types that, you know, the ha like, I have a question for you. But at the time we had the idea, I spoke with a couple of my IP attorney friends.

I’m lucky enough to have those people in my life. And they said, okay, we’ll look, and we’ll see if it exists. Cause I looked I’m like, I can’t find it anywhere. I can’t find it, Google shop. I can’t find it Amazon. I can’t find it anywhere. They looked, couldn’t find it. Said, well, there’s a reason why it probably doesn’t exist.

It doesn’t exist because there isn’t a need, but they’re like we have babies in our lives. We understand the need certainly makes sense. But also there’s probably. He’s like and they’re like, you might be the first person to ever have this idea. But they’re like, that’s unlikely too. Like, all ideas have been had by many, many people over and over.

They’re like, or there’s an incentive in the industry for it not to exist. And that’s, I think what probably made me really angry and got me going is that, and this is not to knock any specific companies, but you know, this guy, Frank, this, this older super awesome, you know, his kids are grown up, IP attorney said, well, you had mentioned all of the plastic bags that are disposable and all of the plastic bottles that most moms throw away.

Cause you know, there’s just a certain personal factor. I don’t want to say a scheme factor, but like a personal, those bottles become yours. They become your breast milk bottles. You don’t give to any people, unless they’re like your best friend or your sister, your breast milk bottles. They usually just go away because there’s no future use for them.

Nobody is like canning jam with their Medela bottles. So they’re just, they become garbage. And then those companies sell more plastic bags that they say, you must throw away. You can’t sterilize, they’re garbage. And more plastic bottles. So there is an incentive in the industry not to have something like Ceres Chill, which is reusable and is intended to replace all of that plastic.

So that I was like, okay, well I’m doing this. And he’s like, oh no, so you’re not doing this because at the time I had just opened my firm’s main office. And he’s like, I’m going to be totally up front, Lisa. There is a ton to this. I’m not saying you can’t do it. He said, I’m saying I won’t be responsible for shutting down the firm’s Vancouver office.

He’s like, cause you cannot do both. And I’m like, watch me. So I, so this is where we get to this phenomenal community around me. I looked for help and had help come to me and ask for help in a way that I never had in my entire life, because if I wanted to make this happen, I had to do that. And there was just like, I think buckets of talent around me and all of these people were so happy to be able to contribute.

And it meant so much to me, and it was nothing that I ever had in my life. And then the other key thing I think, is my daughter Teagan got seizures randomly. My son was three months old and right when I went back to work, I had a lot of guilt around that too. I’m like, oh, it’s because she’s under so much stress that she’s having these seizures. And the neurologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital were like, so no.

So she, the, the tricky part is, she got the seizures at night. And so I then stopped sleeping for a couple of months because I was so scared that she was having, I didn’t want to make it weird where she then started sleeping with us. She was five. Right. So I don’t want to make her life more strange.

So I moved the baby monitor into her room. Like any mom that just kind of like summing it up. I’m like, I’m not getting a second baby monitor, but you seem fine, sir. You three months old, baby. I don’t think you are going to face plant. And you, daughter have seizures in the middle of the night. I moved baby monitor there and I would just lay in my bed, watching my daughter sleep like a crazy person and plotting world domination and helping women with Ceres Chill.

Like that was my, that was like the way I filled that time and used that energy rather than just like obsessing and worrying. I had all of these hours at night where I could like think through problems with manufacturing and all of that stuff. So, yeah. So again, a very long answer, you guys have to be really careful with your questions to me.

Heather O’Neal: Well, no, like we’re, we’re just now getting, we’re scratching the surface. But can I just quickly point out that all of those challenges and hesitations that people put on you during the initial phase of this brainstorming, I would say most people would be like, “oh, really smart person that told me that this wasn’t going to work, you’re probably right.” whereas you were like, okay, perfect. So when do we start? And they’re like Lisa, I don’t think you heard me right. And you’re like, oh no, no, no. I did.

Maureen Farrell: I think, yeah, you’re our kind of person. This is what drives us too.

Heather O’Neal: You’re wired backwards. And I think we are too. And there’s just something, hilarious about people like that. And you know, you, you must have been chosen by the universe to do this because when things start falling into place like that, and it seems like a runaway train that all systems go, I’m so into that. And when we first discovered Ceres Chill, both of us had that moment where we were like, why didn’t this exist before? Like we’re both lactation consultants and we’re like, I’m sorry, why didn’t I think of this? I’m so pissed. We weren’t chosen.

Lisa Myers: I, I love it. I mean, you guys know, I love it. I’m really proud of it.

Heather O’Neal: You should be. And they’re beautiful by the way. They’re absolutely gorgeous. But my, my question is, and I don’t mean to like, turn this into a negative direction or anything, but I think it’s important to address some of the objections that you’ve had from people.

Because no doubt, anytime you’re innovating and bringing something new to the market, there’s going to be people that give you some pushback. So what are some of the things that people have been saying to you about this product that might not be as like awesome as you would have hoped?

Lisa Myers: Yeah, so I had no idea the level of hate that was out there. I mean, I had seen like the, the really polarizing, like political environment and I knew, you know, Taylor Swift, like haters gonna hate. Like I saw it happening in other places and I never thought I would be that lightning rod because I’m just little old me. Right. Like I really, I have strong opinions, but I just don’t I just I’m, I’m a five foot, nothing girl that generally smiles like a happy puppy.

Like I just didn’t think I would ever offend anyone that much. And it was really upsetting. I would, I would obsess about it, wake up. So when we started running ads on Facebook and Instagram, people would say, would talk about the price, which I can understand that it’s not for everyone.

It’s $69.95 right now. The thing is, is like, it is the absolute best materials in the entire world. Like there are cheaper ways to make this bottle. You could make it with a led seal rather than a business seal. And that’s the vacuum part of it. And it would be safe enough. This is about babies. This is about moms deserving the absolute best.

If it’s going to cost a little bit more to do a bismuth seal, dammit, I’m doing a bismuth seal. Like, and it’s copper lined and it lasts forever. My husband has his outside of Baghdad and he sent me a picture of it on one of the Humvees. He said it was 117 degrees. It had been out there with him for five hours and it still had ice in it.

He was like, that’s just a kick ass bottle. He’s like, I am just so proud of you. So I wanted it to be super high quality, which means that it has to be a little more expensive, but it’s actually the same price, a slightly less, than like a Yeti or a Hydro flask that’s the same size.

Maureen Farrell: I was just going to say that I’m really with you on the price point. Like, I am super cheap. We don’t have a lot of money, but honestly, when I do spend money, I’m like, okay, this thing better last. You know, if I’m going to buy shoes they’re the $150 shoes I’m going to wear for five years. Like if I’m going to buy a thermos for my breast milk, this thing better out last me. It’s going to go in the coffin with me guys.

Heather O’Neal: Yeah. It better be safe, you know, I don’t want it, you know, for the first year, it’s great. After the first year it starts leaking lead into your baby. Like, no, I don’t want that. You know.

Maureen Farrell: And you know, Heather. Yeah. Heather knows I’m super paranoid about microplastics for my baby. Like I basically, if I can avoid it, I don’t use any plastics. Like we do silicone storage bags, like glass bottles, you know?

Lisa Myers: So the other thing that came at me was the whole discreet thing, which you guys brought up. I used to talk about that as an advantage of the chiller, because it was an advantage for me. But the level of hate that came my way, like the, the violent response of, “how dare you, shame breastfeeding moms! Like that is something to be proud of.” So I now don’t say it’s discreet, hoof no. What I realized is everybody understands that when they look at it. They’re like, oh, it looks like a water bottle, not like a cooler of breast milk. I understand it’s discreet. So I just don’t tell people and that’s fine.

And then the last thing. What I need to talk to you guys about, and I know that’s part of the reason why I’m here. This is still like religion for women and it bothers me. Cause I think it’s something that women do to each other too. I am constantly accused, not in so many words, but of being a horrible, disgusting manufacturer, actively trying to kill babies by misleading moms about whether or not it’s safe to add warm breast milk to already chilled breast milk.

Maureen Farrell: Yeah. We’ve been dying to talk to you about this because of course, you know, we get this question all the time, every day. Do I really have to chill my breast milk before I add it to other cold milk? And like, you know, we have also been looking for the answer cause ever since Heather and I heard that we were like, really? Is that really true? Do we really have to?

Heather O’Neal: So it kind of, for me, in a normal, healthy baby, I do not worry so much about the guidelines that they put out there for milk storage and the timing. So, you know, there’s different recommendations, we get this all the time. Like when freshly pumped milk is sitting out, how long is it good for?

And it’s like somewhere between like four and eight hours. And they’re like, that’s such a wide gap. If it’s closer to eight, will they die? No, probably not.

Maureen Farrell: Probably it’s fine for much longer than that.

Heather O’Neal: Exactly. Oh, wait, it got left out for 12 hours and we’re like, what did it smell like? Like you want me to smell it? And I’m like, yeah. I mean, if my, if I have, if I have milk sitting out and I’m not sure if it’s good, I’m going to smell it and taste it. And if it’s smells funky, then don’t give it to your baby. If it smells fine, it’s probably fine. But you know, the thing for me that the research does show is that every time you transfer milk, you lose some of the good stuff on the sides.

Especially in those plastic bags, the glass is better. I didn’t see anything about like aluminum. I’m talking about strictly like the plastic bags versus glass because that’s what’s traditionally available. Not, not anymore. Thanks to you. But every time you transfer, you lose more and more of the vitamins, fat, cream, all that stuff on the side.

So I like to say, if you have a medically healthy baby that is term and doing fine, the least amount of transfers is better.

Maureen Farrell: And we know when you use more containers, you’re just increasing the amount of bacteria in there. Like, it doesn’t matter how well you cleaned it, you know, like just the more amount of stuff is going to have more surface bacteria.

Heather O’Neal: So when we saw your product, we were like, oh, this is great. Like finally, yeah, we were all about it, but I can see how, like what, what are they saying is happening when you pour the warm milk into cold milk? What could happen? Tell us.

Maureen Farrell: Tell us about it. Yeah.

Lisa Myers: So whether or not the. People realize that they’re referencing protocol eight for human milk storage that’s put out by the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. Great group of people that overall have a phenomenal bank of research and have put together guidelines that are very conservative but are to help moms better understand how to like pump and feed their babies. This part of protocol eight is found in section six or seven of the human milk storage guidelines and it is, it has no cite to any research whatsoever. So throughout the body of the protocol, you see cites all over the place like any you know, journal article, any published medical research, almost every sentence is cited, right? This piece is this random kind of offhanded comment and it doesn’t mention that there’s any danger.

It says, you guys can find it. I can pull it up. You can reference it in the notes. It says something along the lines of, “when combining breast milk from different pumping sessions, it’s best to chill the warm milk before combining it with the already chilled milk.” I don’t think in the first version they mentioned bacteria.

I don’t know if they mentioned bacteria at all. What happens is it snowballs. Right? It’s like the telephone game or whisper down the lane where one person says something like, I think you should probably consider chilling it before combining it. Why? Just do it. And then that person turns the next person and says, it’s really important that you chill before combining.

And the person’s like, really? Yeah. They then say, it’s dangerous if you don’t chill your milk before combining it. And the person’s like why it’s like, cause bacteria will build up. Like, and then they make up an answer. Right? So now you have all of these like blogs and different folks who want to be an expert in this space.

And even you have the CDC and the Mayo clinic, and they’re all saying it’s best to chill at first. Some of them say it’s because it risks increasing bacteria. They’re all citing to each other, right? Like if there’s a cite which typically there isn’t. But when there is, it’s like the CDC cite the Mayo clinic and the Mayo clinic cites the CDC, and sometimes they cite back to protocol eight, but no one cites to any actual study or any data that reflects that.

So what’s so hard is that we’re trying to prove a negative now. Right? So when I asked doctors, where did this come from? Dr. Stellwagen, who is the coolest woman. And if you can have her on this podcast, she is such a neat person. And her whole, like what it will say on her epitaph is breast milk is not fragile.

Like she just is so done with this perception that breast milk is fragile. That we have to like, carefully, carefully, like care for it. It is so powerful. And this is again, I could go on and on forever, but I feel like it’s another way that traditional medicine has stolen our power as women. Like heaven forbid the world know what insane properties are in breast milk and the things that it does just all by itself.

And we’re learning that now again, cause I think there’s more women in the space, particularly with COVID there’s more interest overall in like the immunity properties and that, but it is antibacterial and antimicrobial and it actively fights bad bacteria. It has tons of bacteria in it. It’s not to say that it’s missing bacteria.

There’s tons. It’s just all the good kind that fights all the bad kind. So, Dr. Stellwagen her nickname is Dr. Milk Wagon. She is the head of pediatrics at the University of San Diego, I think. She started the UC Milk Bank. She is sits on the like the American Board of Pediatrics, like breastfeeding division.

She’s just in this space. Her published research found that there was actually I think to Maureen’s point earlier, less bacteria when women pooled their breast milk. And that has a lot to do with fewer containers. And what’s interesting is that research was for the advantages of pooling breast milk.

Well, that was the finding is that there were advantages to pooling breast milk and it was for preterm babies. So it was for women who are going back and forth to the NICU. So I always say similar to what you said, Heather. I always say, you know, this is, you know, for healthy, you know, full-term babies, all of that, but so Dr. Stellwagen’s research, which is you guys can put in the, in the notes. And it’s on our website. Her research found that there were incredible advantages to pooling breast milk. All the ones that you’ve spoken about, and there was no increase in bacteria. In fact, this wasn’t part of the finding, the decreased bacteria.

Cause she didn’t study that specifically for longer, but it’s kind of a comment. Oh, and by the way, we actually found less bacteria. Which is probably has to do with fewer containers and fewer like just open and close and stuff gets in and stuff comes out. Dr. Townsend at Vanderbilt University is like another incredible person in this space.

His research is insane and I have been in contact with him with Ceres Chill. I am going to start collecting more breast milk for his research because the protocol eight is up to be revised in 2022. It gets revised like every five or six years and I’m dying a slow death waiting for it to get changed.

I sent all the research to the head of protocols and she is also a brilliant woman, Dr. Young. Really, really smart person. And I think a really independent thinker. And she said, wow, you’ve given us a lot to think about when the protocols up for revision next year. You know, we’ll certainly take this all into consideration.

I’m like, cool, cool. No, take your time. I mean, whatever, but just throwing out ounces of breast milk. What I was told by all of these doctors, I’ll just say real quick, supposedly this is based on, I’m going to say it I’m like really going off here, I hope I don’t like create a lot of problems for you and me, but like, I just think it was like, and no, no knock on the guy, but I just think it was probably some old white guy, 30 years ago, because everybody is saying it’s, it’s based on observations with food.

Heather O’Neal: I was just going to say that!

Maureen Farrell: It’s from food safety guidelines for restaurants. That’s what it’s for. For soup. So like anybody, anybody who’s worked in a restaurant like I have, you look at the guidelines on the wall and it says, “don’t add warm food to cold food.” Great. I’m not going to do that with my leftover chickpeas salad, but my leftover chick pea salad doesn’t have active immune properties that are going to fight off bad bacteria.

Heather O’Neal: It’s not alive!

Maureen Farrell: No. Also my breast milk is not a leftover food that somebody already touched, you know. Like it’s coming directly from my body. It’s, it’s full of these alive immunological components. It has its own active microbiome. You know, it’s much more similar to an active fermented food. You know, it has this whole happy little culture in there that keeps it all very safe and lovely.

Heather O’Neal: Yeah. This whole time, I’ve just been sitting here thinking about that food safety class I took about soup and how the middle of the soup is in the danger zone. So it’s, you know, really, if they were going to go full on, they’d make you pump into a more flat container. So it would, it would cool evenly so the middle didn’t become a festering pool of bacteria.

Like how far do you want to take it? You know what I mean? I just think, thank God that you’re bringing this to light and thank you for fixing that because you are right. Women are dumping out thousands of ounces of breast milk every year, because they think it’s bad. And it’s probably not.

Lisa Myers: Yeah, and I had a friend who right, and kind of to your guys’ point about the, about all the containers and that. I had a friend who had trouble with production and sometimes she would only pump an ounce, but she’d be like it’s such a big deal to cool it first.

Like I’ll just throw it away. I’ll wait until I can pump more later. Like I don’t have access to a fridge, so that’s just garbage because it can’t be combined with the chilled bottle I have here. It’ll ruin it all. So we’ll just throw that out then. Yeah, no crazy. Don’t do that. We’re the only, we’re the only country.

We’re the only country that does this. Like talk, talking to Dr. Townsend he’s. I mean, and talking to my friends in the UK, I would invite all of your listeners to like poll their foreign friends and the level of confusion that you’re met with like, I mean, my, my friend in London was like, I don’t understand what you’re saying.

I’m like, you know, the advice that you can’t add the warm milk to the chilled. She’s like, say it again. And I’m like adding, like pumping milk into, and she’s like, I don’t know what you’re talking about. And I’m like, add in two different milks that she’s like, I do it all the time. Like all the time. Like I, everybody here is doing that right now. Like nobody’s died and they’re like, Sweden, Germany, Norway.

Maureen Farrell: Yeah. I often encourage people when they look at a United States breastfeeding guideline that seems weird. I tell them to look at the guidelines from countries with better breastfeeding rates than us, which are many, and see what they say. Australia is a great one. They have phenomenal breastfeeding rates.

They also produce a large amount of studies about lactation. So that’s usually my second stop. I’m like cool. CDC says something whack, big surprise. Let me just, let me just check out this one, just to see if that’s consistent or not. And you know, like Heather and I are constantly reiterating this to our listeners, to our Facebook group, that these are just guidelines.

A guideline is not a hard and fast rule that you have to follow it. It is a suggestion. And really what these guidelines tell us is the parameters in which your breast milk is for sure going to be safe. Like four hours at room temp, you’re definitely good. Outside of that also you’re probably okay. But that’s kind of when, like, you know, the CDC says, well, that was our money back guarantee now you’re on your own.

Heather O’Neal: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s true. And can we just touch on another one really quick? Shaken or swirled? You know, so many people are like can I shake my breast milk? I’m going to rip apart the proteins and I’m like, are you a crazy centrifuge? Because I don’t think you could produce that level of force to rip apart a microscopic protein. Super cool. But yeah. Tell us about that. Shaken or swirled?

Lisa Myers: If you do have that power, your breast milk is also probably super girl style. And so it’s probably, you’re probably not ripping it apart. That’s like adamantium there. That’s like, I that’s another one. It’s and I don’t even know where that one comes from because that I haven’t dedicated my life necessarily, but that one, I think that’s I don’t, I haven’t seen that in the protocols.

I don’t know where it comes from. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s back to this. I think the fundamental, I think where it comes from is just, you start at a place that breast milk is fragile and then you just create fiction and myth out from there. And it’s like, you know, unless it’s served in a chalice, like of the precise property is, and at the precise temperature, it’s now dangerous and garbage and, you know, make some more. Hurry, mama, make some more and take care of it the right way.

This is what I’m struggling with. I just want the information out there and then moms can make whatever decision is best for them. But really my whole thing is like, if you’re really committed about adding warm to chill, I totally get it. Use a cooler or use two chillers, use one chiller to chill and use the other to keep it cold.

But you do, you. I’ve never said you’re an idiot for following that protocol. Not at all. Like that protocol, you know, is out there. And it’s, it’s people who have, you know, who have a concern and an interest in moms and baby’s health, put it out there. So I would never say that women should under no circumstances follow that protocol.

I’m just saying, when you look at all of the data, it says something very different. And when you realize how powerful breast milk is, it doesn’t make any sense. And then the last point I want to make is to your point, where you were like talking about see what other countries do and look at what they do. You know what bugs me?

Medela has one set of like advice and rules for the rest of the world and for the UK. And they have another set for us, because heaven forbid any of these people take on this rule. And the one for the UK doesn’t talk about the warm to chilled, but the one in the US does. And so it’s not that there aren’t big players in the space that know this and have the information. It’s that they either didn’t care enough, which is, which is mean, or they were scared.

And I get being scared because I ran away from it for a long time. And finally, I just saw how important it was. And I’m like, dammit, we’re putting a page on the website. It’s called adding warm to chilled. And we’re collecting all of the information there. You can click on the links. And I just, and now I’m doing podcasts now.

I’m like, I’m done hiding from this and pretending it’s not a big deal because for so many moms, it’s a really scary, big deal. And it shouldn’t be. And I’m done. Done.

Heather O’Neal: Girl, good.

Maureen Farrell: We love this. You, you are resilient. Our milk is resilient.

Heather O’Neal:  And unfortunately, wait. So unfortunately you have to be on the chopping block in order for this to get the traction it needs to change. So you’re kind of becoming a martyr for this milk storage system. And there truly is no such thing as bad press. And it’s going to take this amount of people, questioning it, asking their friends, Hey, what do you think about the milk store? Like, do you combine? You’re going to start these conversations and yeah, you’re going to be taking some shit for it, for sure.

But you have advocates in us, definitely. And our listeners after this are going to be like, oh my God, what have I been doing? Like, anytime we can make someone’s life easier, it’s going to be a win.

Maureen Farrell: We’re for it. Absolutely. And I, and I want to say to you, like, Hey, I’m over here, Ceres Chill convert. You know, you very kindly sent us one to try. And, you know, I live really rurally. I live in a farm in the middle of nowhere. So a grocery store trip is like five hours because that’s how that shit goes. And if I’m not bringing my baby, yeah, I have to pump. So, you know, I’ve been like, oh, wow, this is amazing because I fucking hate coolers.

I hate using all those stupid ice packs. Cause you know, my husband takes him to work. He never remembers to put them back in the freezer and there I am then in the morning, like, what am I going to do for this stupid grocery trip if I don’t want to bring my infant? It’s been amazing. I love using it.

And I also totally left it on the counter overnight last time and it was still cold in the morning. So there, cause that’s great. Totally works with my lifestyle. So we are huge fans. And I wanna, I wanna kind of take us out on a high note and maybe like, see if you can talk to us about the next big thing for your company.

I saw on your website, soon to be for sale, The Milkstache. Do you think you could tell us a little bit about that?

Lisa Myers: Yes. Yes. So I’m really excited about it. I’m really excited to have it out in the world and to get feedback from moms and to continue to like improve their experience. I think it’s really great, but I have to be honest, I think it’s really great because of the struggle I saw with other women. I never had a huge stash. I just wasn’t. I was ‘pump for today for tomorrow mom’. I was always like just doing that kind of like hamster wheel and that worked for me. But for women that have a stash, my friends, who were buying chest freezers just for their stash and all of these bags, and then being in the space, seeing all of the waste, all of the plastic waste, like thousands of bags and that they get snagged and then you thaw them, and then the milk is in the bowl and it’s not in the bottle and it’s been diluted.

And what do I do now? And I just, it’s just a mess. And I, similar to the coolers, I’m like, there has to be a better way. So since, and because the women get back with their Ceres Chill back home, I knew that was the one place I was failing them. That they’ve got the super cool bottle and no plastic waste and now they’re home and they’re going to store milk. Or it’s sitting on their nightstand because they’re pumping at night or they’re exclusive pumpers. And so now they’ve got this cool bottle, no plastic waste. But I’ve created a condition where if you want to store it, your options are the really cool silicone storage bags, which I love, but they can be expensive to buy tons of them.

And then the other problem is I wanted women to only have to thaw as much as they needed and also make it easy for like daycares and dads and other caregivers to just put exactly what’s needed in the bottle and thaw it on that basis. So that’s how I came up with The Milkstache. So The Milkstache allows moms, it’s a super pretty little treasure chest box.

I’m proud of how beautiful it is. It is silicone and then, you know, BPA free, classic, shatterproof. And you can store, I want to do all the testing and I hate to over promise, but right now the prototype is you can store up to 34 ounces of milk in half ounce cubes. So you have, you have two trays of two silicone flexible silicone trays.

And you would imagine you would bring your Ceres Chill bottle home. You would pour your milk into the trays. And then it has bands to keep it safe and you put it in your freezer and then you pop all the cubes out and now, oh, and you can write on it. It has a pretty silver acrylic pen that comes with it.

And then you can just rub that off with a bit of olive oil and a sponge, but yeah. So you now have half ounce cubes that fit into narrow neck and wide neck bottles. And so you just put in as many cubes as you need per feeding. So you’re not trying to figure out, do I thaw the two-ounce bag of milk or do I like thaw the five-ounce bag or do I break some off and then jam it in there?

Like it’s just it’s the prior solutions were messy, problematic. You had the bag pulling out or you had to buy the storage systems, but yeah, this is about convenience, about being able to thaw exactly what you need when you need it. So you’re not wasting money and then you don’t have to keep it all in that box.

You can put it in Ziplocs. Whatever’s best for you. Larger containers, write whatever you want on it. And then you have much less plastic waste and as with everything Ceres Chill, this is intended to be used forever. So you can use it for, if you’re a fancy pants, pureed, baby food. Or jello shots. I’m just saying. So many uses!

Maureen Farrell: Oh, I’m so excited for this. Cause I, in a change from the last time I breastfed, I have more milk than I need. I have a stash and I’m like, what the fuck do I do with this now? But I, but I am actually like right now, I’m like, okay, this stuff in the plastic bags, maybe I’ll just donate to a milk bank.

Cause I don’t know what I’m doing with that. So I’m excited to try it out whenever it’s ready for sale. I’m really excited.

Heather O’Neal:  That’s so funny to me because I, I feel personally attacked by your story because I was definitely that mom that would drop my daughter off at daycare and be like, sorry, it’s the two-and-a-half-ounce bag today. So good luck. She made it. She’s two and a half and she’s giant.

Maureen Farrell: Heidi is doing great.

Heather O’Neal: We all made it. Well, Lisa, thank you so much for coming on. Oh, go ahead. Sorry.

Lisa Myers: Yeah, I wanted to know since you have a little bit of extra milk, if I could talk you into donating some for science, for Dr. Townsend’s research? He said all he needs is like an ounce.

Maureen Farrell:  Oh hell yeah.

Lisa Myers: Every mom who has milk, like I’m like hitting them up and they it’s all, I mean, he has like, he’s a chemist. He has such an amazing lab. He has a bunch of research fellows and they’re going to help like dispel, like so many of these myths, you will be a piece of like powerful woman history.

Maureen Farrell: That sounds great. I would love to do that. Yeah. I have, I have plenty of milk to spare. Also kind of running out of room in the tiny place in my freezer that I allocated for that.

Heather O’Neal: What if we have listeners that want to donate? Where can they email you or how do they get in contact with you to donate their milk?

Lisa Myers: Yeah. So if they want to email me directly, I think that would be best. And then I know to put them in touch with Dr. Townsend and with the pediatric clinic that is managing the donations and making sure that it’s all HIPAA compliant.

So yeah, if women want to donate their milk, then they can reach out to me at and I will get them in touch with Dr. Townsend and we will figure out if we can get them a chiller to send their milk and make sure it’s safe cause our chillers are being used for other research. And because it can keep milk safe when it’s being transported. So a lot of women ship their breast milk that way. So yeah. So that’s, that’s that for that.

Heather O’Neal: That’s awesome. Awesome. All right. Well, yeah, what’s the one thing you want our listeners to take away from this?

Lisa Myers: This is the one thing I want them to take away. That it’s absolutely key to have a tribe of people. It doesn’t have to be a tribe of women. My lactation consultant gave me permission to look after myself in my breastfeeding journey, that it wasn’t all about my son. And when she saw I was in pain and he had a tongue tie and a lip tie, we got it sorted out, but I was really scared I was gonna fail him. Like I felt that I failed my daughter. And as much as I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, I thought I was going to screw the whole thing up. And she told me, you have to look after yourself and even one ounce a day works miracles for him. So if you can do one ounce a day, like, let’s see how far we can get with that.

And because of her support and giving myself permission to just do the best I could, I breastfed him exclusively for six months and then supplemented off and on, but breastfed him for two years. And I’m really proud of that. And it was just such a different way to look at it than I had with my daughter.

Maureen Farrell: Well, thank you so much. Thank you so much, Lisa, for taking time out of your day and, and managing, you know, children while doing this. We understand that completely. And I just, I had a lot of fun today. I really appreciate what you do and the product you sell and like the kind of very relatable stories that you’ve shared with us today.

Heather O’Neal: Agreed to all of that. Thank you so much. And I appreciate your passion and for all of the sacrifices you’ve made with your family to make this happen for the greater good for all of us. So if you’re pumping in a dirty mop closet right now, know that Lisa’s here on the case for you.

Lisa Myers: I want to thank you guys too. Oh, come on buddy. Do you see that baby? That baby is getting milk! Isn’t that awesome? I want to thank you guys for everything you do. I mean the opportunity to speak with you and to have this laugh, like I don’t, I don’t get you know, with my husband deployed, I don’t get a lot of these fun moments on the weekend. And this has just been a really beautiful conversation.

And I just want to thank you for being such rock stars for breastfeeding moms, because we all, we need it.

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Maureen Farrell: That was an awesome interview. Heather.

Heather O’Neal:  I am blown away.

Maureen Farrell: Yes. She’s very innovative and brave. And clearly, somehow has managed to inject like 10 extra hours into every day. I don’t know how she did it.

Heather O’Neal: Why don’t you do a quick little review of how you feel about using it personally? Cause we were so busy talking about, you know, her journey and the awesome product, but we haven’t really heard from you about what your experience has been.

Maureen Farrell: Yeah. So Lisa was kind enough to send us a free chiller, which was amazing. And first of all, I opened it and I was like, wow, this is a nice thing. This is a very nice thing. It looks nice. It feels nice. It’s high quality. So anyway, impressive. And I decided to use it like the next day I went out for like five or six hours without my baby.

And I brought my pump in style, which screws directly onto it. And yeah, I pumped right into it. I just like sat in the car by the river and listened to some music and it was really convenient. It was super nice, you know, and I put like five ice cubes in there. And I put some ice in and at first, I couldn’t get the ice and the inside insert to fit.

And that I was like, oh duh, if I add a little bit of water, it’ll make the ice cubes floaty, and then it’ll work. So put a little bit of water in with my five ice cubes, put the insert in and it stayed super cold the whole time, even though I left it in like a car on a 90-degree day.

Heather O’Neal: Wow. That’s really impressive. And I’m glad that you mentioned that it screws right onto your pump. Cause we forgot to say that, but it screws on to all of the major pump’s flanges.

Maureen Farrell: Yeah. They, so they sent me a bag that had like adapters, it screws right onto the Medela pump and then any other that has a compatible bottle. And then things like the Spectra, you just have an adapter you use.

But I think the new pump in style doesn’t quite screw. Like usually you can double pump with the metal bottle on one and the top to the thermos on the other, but the way they redesigned the pump in style, doesn’t quite work with the top part. I don’t know. But the old pump in style does. So I have lots of thoughts on the new pump in style anyway, but we’re talking about Ceres Chill and I love it.

And the other day I pumped while I was out and I came home and I threw my shit on the counter and then totally forgot about it. Right. And that was like 6:00 PM. In the morning I got up and I was like, oh crap. That’s my breast milk sitting on the counter. And it was still cold.

Heather O’Neal: That’s so relieving. Oh my gosh. Like if that can just, that alone is worth the money.

Maureen Farrell: Yeah. And you know, I, we, we’ve been talking about it a lot in our Facebook group and on our social media and I’ve definitely heard some people say it’s too expensive. I can just kind of mimic the same thing with the cheaper one. And that’s awesome. And it, you know, you can totally do that, but if you want to purchase something that has done all the work for you and you don’t have to figure it out and you do have the money for something that’s really well made and it’s going to last a while, then you should consider this.

Heather O’Neal: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I can imagine that you could do it cheaper, but you’d be jerry-rigging things and it’s not going to be easy, convenient, or pretty.

Maureen Farrell:  And, and whatever, you know, if that’s what you want to do. Great. If you’re the kind of person like me that usually just doesn’t have time to do that then, then you can buy this and Lisa already figured it out for you. And I’m excited too like, we use thermoses like this all the time, right? Like my husband is a matcha drinker. And that’s the kind of this tea that you just like keep pouring hot water over.

And he just like sits there with a little hot thermos for an hour every morning, pouring hot water over it. Like he can use it for that later. I can use it for a bottle of Rose, which is my favorite. Sometime when I want to go out with it, you know, it it’s, it’s nice. We use them for a lot of stuff.

Heather O’Neal: I can totally see you sneaking that into some festivals with your wine and be like, ma’am, what’s in there? Oh, breast milk. My breast milk and then they watch your drink directly out of it for the next four hours. They’re like that chick is drinking her own breast milk. What an actual hippie. All right, guys. Well, thank you so much for tuning into another episode of The Milk Minute Podcast. We will see you next week.

Thanks for listening to The Milk Minute. If you haven’t already, please like, subscribe, and review our podcast wherever you listen. If you’d like to support our podcast, you can find us on Patreon at To send us feedback, personal stories, or just to chat, you can send us an email at


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