Lactation education

Lactation expert on breastmilk donation

NEW BRAUFNELS, Texas — Shawna Baker is a working mom. For her, breastfeeding was no small feat.

“I didn’t have the lactation support that I would have liked for myself,” Baker said.. “And I didn’t feel as supported and I certainly didn’t have the knowledge.”

Baker’s first child was a NICU baby. Not wanting to rely on formula milk, she found it difficult to breastfeed.

“It was just the hustle and bustle of being a new parent,” she said.. “I’m not sure what I’m doing. I don’t know how to get my milk supply in.

Fifteen years ago, Baker became a lactation consultant to help other moms. Working at Chistrus Health in New Braunfels, she meets mothers who are determined to breastfeed due to ongoing formula shortages.

“They’re more motivated to keep it going for longer,” Baker said.. “And finding that once they get through those first two weeks, it’s not as hard as they thought.

Shawna says 80% of her new moms continue to breastfeed. But lately, she has been getting a lot of calls about sharing breast milk.

“Milk sharing is not something we would encourage or promote,” Baker said.. “Just for the security risk.”

Nationally, stock-out rates for infant formula have soared to 74%. This rate exceeds 90% in 10 states.

“Some moms have said they never planned to breastfeed, but that’s only because of the shortage,” Baker said..

The hospital collects milk from donors, but this milk is stored and transported to a milk bank in Austin, then given to babies in the NICU.

Baker says the shortage isn’t convincing more mothers to donate. But she said it was an experience she would never forget.

“If I have oversupply, might as well help other babies and moms,” Baker said.. “I gave with my first. And with the second one, I thought it was such a rewarding experience. I want to move on and start over.