In these uncertain times, it feels as though we keep getting hit with one curve ball after another.  What’s a mother to do?  The following is advice from the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine (ABM) — ABM Statement on Shortage of Breastmilk Substitutes (bfmed.org).

To summarize –

For those parents currently pregnant or expecting a baby: 

  • Consider the formula shortage when deciding about how to feed your baby. Seek a prenatal breastfeeding class to obtain basic management information to get breastfeeding off to a god start.  Choose health care providers and hospitals that are supportive of breastfeeding.  Start getting your tribe together now!

For those parents not producing any breast milk:

  • Consider relactating – it is a thing! Seek the guidance of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).  Note that relactating is a challenging process, especially the further out one gets from birth.
  • Consider donor milk. Your options consist of pasteurized human milk or informal milk sharing.  Of course, you will need to trust the source, & you can do flash pasteurization, if it makes you feel more comfortable.
  • With the formula you have, DO NOT add more water than the instructions call for, as it can disrupt the electrolyte balance in the baby, which can be fatal!
  • You can switch formula brands; however, check out the formula company if it is not well known before you commit. If you are currently using a special formula, speak with your health care provider first.
  • DO NOT make any homemade formula without speaking with your health care provider first.
  • If your child is 6 months to 1 year, you may use cow’s milk in an emergency for a short (days) period of time. But speak with your health care provider, so the baby’s iron stores can be monitored.
  • Talk to your health care provider about the appropriateness of incorporating solids to the baby’s diet to replace bottles (no more than 2-3 times per day).
  • At no time, give water, tea or juice to a baby less than 6 months of age! Again, the extra water disrupts the electrolyte balance in the baby.

For those parents partially breastfeeding:

  • Consider increasing your milk supply with the help of an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC).
  • Read the previous section.

For those parents exclusively breastfeeding:

  • Consider donating breast milk informally or to a local milk bank certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA). You can obtain more information from a local La Leche League (LLL) group or lactation consultant.