Breastfeeding seminars

why breastfeeding is not an easy alternative

BOISE, Idaho — In light of the national formula shortage, many people have made remarks suggesting parents “just breastfeed their babies instead.” In short, it’s not that simple, especially for families with food allergies.

“These families often can’t choose another formula,” said Free to Feed co-founder Trillyte Paullin. “They only have one formula, or a few formulas, that don’t specifically cause an allergic reaction in their children.”

Paullin works closely with parents across the country whose young children have severe allergies. Her company, Free to Feed, offers parents online courses and a mobile app to help track diet and allergic reactions.

Related: Formula Shortage Affecting People With Rare Metabolic Diseases

Paullin said many families with allergies also face breastfeeding challenges, as these allergens are passed from parents’ diets into breast milk. Paullin faced these difficulties with his two children.

“There ends up being a balance. If the child reacts to very many foods and we have to remove too many things from the mother’s diet, it is often better for the parent not to breastfeed because we are not in able to get good nutrition,” Paullin said. “It’s very, very mentally and physically taxing on the parent — as I can tell you firsthand; so it’s very naive to make these statements to parents and honestly it doesn’t help in the current climate.”

The molecular biologist turned entrepreneur co-founded Free to Feed while living in Boise, advancing her research at Boise State. They recently moved to a lab space in North Carolina.

The company’s long-term goal is to create home test strips that will allow parents to test their breast milk for particular proteins before feeding. They plan to bring the test kits to market in early 2023.

However, in recent weeks, Free to Feed has focused on connecting families across the country looking for specific formula or breastmilk donations from families with dietary restrictions.

Related: ‘It’s Awful You Can’t Feed Your Child’: Treasure Valley Moms Hit By Baby Formula Shortage

“We have families in Treasure Valley who have used it and donated their own breast milk or formula they have access to, but we ship nationwide,” Paullin said.

In less than a week, the team of volunteers coordinated overnight shipments across the country of infant formula and frozen donor milk, shipped to and from more than 35 states.

“It’s certainly worth it, but it’s heartbreaking to know that we’re only scratching the surface,” Paullin said.

To learn more about their efforts, Click here.