TAMPA, Fla. — As moms continue to deal with the baby formula shortage, one argument some moms are hearing is to simply turn to breastfeeding, but some say that’s easier said than done.
Kathryn Heller knows the joys of being a mom and the challenges that can come along with it.
“Randomly, my supply dried up after about two weeks of pumping,” Heller said.
Heller had difficulty breastfeeding, switching her son to formula, and then discovered he had an allergy, instead needing a very specific formula.
“Those formulas are extremely, extremely difficult to come by,” she said.
The nationwide baby formula shortage is also not making things any easier.
“It’s just discouraging when you go in there, and it’s not there, and you just think in your head, you go, what do you do?” Heller said.
Still, one argument some moms are hearing is to just breastfeed as a solution, but Heller said it’s not that simple.
“It’s pretty frustrating because you don’t know everyone’s situation,” Heller said. “Also, just the number one thing of if they just don’t want to, they don’t want to. You have to respect people’s choices.”
Experts at All Children's said mothers sometimes struggle with supply issues, either too much or too little milk, infants can have trouble latching, and they could latch well but have trouble transferring the milk from the breast to the stomach.
“If it’s not something that was already going on and they weren’t already breastfeeding, just go breastfeed doesn’t solve our problem,” Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital lactation consultant Michelle Carter said. “It’s a more in-depth problem than that, and we need to support our moms and find the best solution for them possible.”
Carter said moms might have certain conditions that could impede milk production or might be on a medication that’s not safe for breastfeeding, but says that there are resources available for moms.
“There are outpatient lactation consultants, there are warmlines that they can call, there are virtual lactation consultants,” Carter said. “And also a lot of mom to mom support groups as well.”
It’s an argument for some people that’s adding to an already stressful situation, while moms hope they’re not left scrambling for solutions much longer.
“You see moms just wandering in the formula aisle, and they’re just standing there, and it’s just blank stares because we all have the same thought, what do we do now?” said Heller.