Breastfeeding interest on the rise as formula shortage persists

Breastfeeding education
Breastfeeding education(WITN)
Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 7:22 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Health officials are still battling a shortage of baby formula in this country, and that’s causing more moms to consider breastfeeding instead. Friday WITN talked to experts in that field about how they’re handling the growing interest.

“They’re calling and they’re asking, hey it’s hard to find this formula, is there any way you can help me re-lactate,” explained Wayne County Health Department Breastfeeding Coordinator Elizabeth Hill. A formula shortage that has been happening for months is something healthcare experts said is increasing interest in breastfeeding.

Friday, a mixture of nurses, WIC employees, and lactation consultants met in Greenville to talk about how to educate new mothers. The event was part of an annual conference, but participants there shared information about the formula and how it’s impacted their day-to-day.

“I’ve had a number of families that I’ve worked with mention that they really weren’t gonna breastfeed, but they think they’ll give it a try now because of the shortage,” explained Regional Lactation Coordinator Hannah Edens. She said the benefits of breastfeeding are nearly endless. “The babies that are breastfed have lower risk of ear infection, allergies, asthma, diabetes and a lot more.”

They extend to mothers, too. “Lower rates of cardiovascular disease, quicker return to pre-pregnancy weight, reduced risk of ovarian and uterine cancer or breast cancer,” she continued.

But it’s not always a simple process, which is why WIC leaders offer mentorship. “Babies are born with the instinct to breastfeed, not necessarily born great at it. So that’s where the support comes in, so we spend a lot of time educating our pregnant moms,” explained Hill.

Tyjuana Atkinson works in Lenoir County’s WIC office. She said they want to learn everything they can to support healthy babies.

“Breastfeeding is constantly changing. They’re constantly doing research on breastfeeding, and any time there’s research, it is our duty to keep our participants updated,” explained Lenoir County Health Breastfeeding Coordinator Tyjuana Atkinson.

Some mothers have donated breastmilk to help other moms during the shortage. But WIC directors we talked to said there’s always a need for more moms to do the same.

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