California mothers share breast milk amid formula shortage
Over the weekend, the CEO of Abbott Laboratories apologized for his company’s role in the nationwide baby formula shortage. An Abbot plant shutdown because of quality control issues, is one of the major factors contributing to the shortage. Meanwhile, the first plane load of formula from Germany landed in the U.S. on Sunday and the Defense Production Act has been mobilized to give priority to baby formula manufacturers.
But families with hungry infants who can’t find formula don’t have time to wait and the old-time practice of breast milk sharing is having a resurgence. Los Angeles Times reporter Sonja Sharp says concerned mothers who are lactating are donating milk, mostly to families reaching out for help on the internet. Sharp spoke with mothers like Diana Granados, who saw messages on Instagram from parents searching for baby formula and decided to offer her stored breast milk.
She is one of thousands of lactating mothers in California trying to help families scrambling to feed their infants.
The history of sharing breast milk has a long and ancient past. In Muslim tradition, nursing a child that is not your own creates a lifetime connection and obligation. But Sharp explains that the practice has also been abused as poor women and slaves were often coerced into becoming wet nurses to the privileged, sometimes to the detriment of their own infants.
Sharp suggests that before parents search out breast milk donors on the internet, they contact their pediatrician or the federal nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, for guidance.
She joined Midday Edition on Monday with more on how parents are coping with the shortage.