By Sarah ChurchCertified Nurse Midwife, Nuvance Health Medical Practice
The topic of the recent shortage of infant formula has been rumored in our parent groups on local social media recently, and I’m thrilled to see people helping each other in this way.
A patient in my midwifery office recently asked me, “Have you ever thought that a formula shortage might happen? Honestly, it was the first time I thought of it. But, in light of everything that’s happened with the supply chain, the vacancies, and the unstable geopolitical climate, I’m not surprised. We must remain aware and ready to react.
One thing we must not neglect is to increase support for our breastfeeding families and future parents. Many pregnant women begin to become parents with the expectation of exclusive breastfeeding. When they run into difficulties, they often end up supplementing with formula or giving up breastfeeding altogether.
For those families, here are some resources and tips:
- Contact your birth and pediatric care providers to see what they offer to support breastfeeding soon after birth. Find out about the availability of lactation consultants. To Norwalk Hospitallactation consultant Michael Ferguson recently launched helpful new courses on breastfeeding and childbirth. This information is available online.
- Ask your insurance about coverage for visits by a lactation consultant.
- Take a prenatal course on breastfeeding.
- Make an appointment with a lactation consultant for a postpartum visit within the first week after birth, even if you don’t think you 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 explore options like sharing human milk. Filtered and pasteurized breast milk is usually only available by prescription once the baby is discharged from the hospital. However, there are breast milk donor communities with local chapters.
If you consider this, the La Leche League milk donation and sharing website offers good advice on risks versus benefits. The key is to carefully read the information provided and check the regulations to ensure that the milk you receive is safe and that you feel comfortable with all aspects of the process.
Finally, know that even a small amount of breastmilk is good for the baby — breastfeeding isn’t necessarily all or nothing. If there’s a reason your breastfed baby needs formula supplementation, you can continue to give both.
Whatever your family’s unique journey, remember that parenthood is difficult. You are not alone and you are doing a good job. We will get through this together.
Sarah Church is a certified nurse midwife practicing at Norwalk Hospital since 2009. She sees patients at Medical office Nuvance HealthStevens St. Midwifery Office in Norwalk. Sara was born at Norwalk Hospital and also gave birth to her two sons there under the care of her fellow midwives.