By Sara Church, certified nurse-midwife, Nuvance Health Medical Practice
The theme of the recent formula shortage has been prevalent in our local social media parenting groups recently, and I’m so glad to see people helping each other in this way.
A patient at my midwifery office recently asked, “Did you ever think a formula shortage could happen?” Honestly, it was the first time I had ever thought about it. But, in light of everything that has been going on with the supply chain, unfilled labor positions and the unstable geopolitical climate, I am not surprised. We need to remain aware and ready to respond.
One thing we should not overlook is increasing support for our breastfeeding families and expecting parents. Many pregnant people initiate parenthood with the expectation of exclusive breastfeeding. When they run into difficulty, they often end up supplementing with formula or giving up breastfeeding altogether.
For these families, here are some resources and tips:
- Reach out to your birth and pediatric providers to see what they offer to support breastfeeding soon after birth. Inquire about lactation consultant availability. At Norwalk Hospital, lactation consultant Michelle Ferguson recently launched some helpful new breastfeeding and childbirth classes. That information is available online.
- Check with your insurance regarding lactation consultant coverage for visits.
- Take a prenatal breastfeeding class.
- Schedule an appointment with a lactation consultant for a postpartum visit within the first week of birth, even if you think you don’t need one.
- Check out your local breastfeeding support group and attend a meeting, maybe even before your baby is born.
You may also want to investigate options like human-milk sharing. Screened and pasteurized breast milk is typically only available by prescription once a baby is discharged from the hospital. However, there are breast milk donor communities with local chapters.
If you are considering this, the La Leche League website about milk donation and sharing offers good advice on risks versus benefits. The key is to read the information offered carefully and check regulations to ensure that the milk you receive is safe and you feel comfortable with all aspects of the process.
Finally, know that even a small amount of breast milk is beneficial to baby — breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If there is a reason your breastfed baby needs formula supplementation, you can continue to give both.
Whatever your family’s unique journey, remember that parenting is hard. You are not alone, and you are doing a good job. We will get through this together.
Sara Church is a certified nurse-midwife practicing at Norwalk Hospital since 2009. She sees patients at Nuvance Health Medical Practice’s midwifery office on Stevens St. in Norwalk. Sara was born at Norwalk Hospital and also gave birth to her two sons there under the care of her midwifery colleagues.