For some time consumers have been finding the prices of products increasing, and also finding that some products are difficult to find. This is now the case with baby formula, and it is wreaking havoc for many families.
There are many underlying reasons for the current situation. At Birth Beautifully, we always encourage and support breast/chest feeding, but of course also recognize that for various reasons birthing people may need or choose to feed their babies with formula.
Here are a few ideas on how you can support and help your clients who are scared and struggling due to the formula shortage.
- Encourage breast/chest feeding. If any of your clients are already bodyfeeding, keep encouraging and supporting them in that. If they are supplementing with formula for convenience, not need, you might gently encourage them to continue bodyfeeding exclusively, or to pump and freeze their milk to be given via bottle. By doing this, it leaves more formula available for those who have no other option at this point.
- Refer to donor milk banks. Some areas have large networks of donor milk banks. Many people are not aware this is even an option, especially if they are first time parents. You can encourage clients who are breast/chest feeding and have an abundant supply to consider donation. For clients who cannot find enough formula, they might consider contacting a milk bank, though the milk bank will likely require a prescription from the pediatrician, since most donor milk goes to premature or adopted babies, or babies in a NICU or foster care.
- Provide information. If you have clients who can’t find formula, give them information about local resources such as:
–local health departments
Sometimes these places have formula samples available or can help with other resources.
- Refer to their pediatrician. Always encourage your clients to talk with their baby’s pediatrician if they even suspect their baby is not getting enough nutrition. Some pediatricians may suggest introducing solids earlier than they would under normal circumstances, or may have formula samples available.
- Refer to their OB/GYN or midwife. Some providers may have formula samples to give to patients.
- Listen. As doulas we can’t solve every problem that might arise, but we can listen to our clients, and encourage and support them to the best of our ability.
If you have other suggestions for doulas or parents regarding the formula crisis, please share with us on Facebook – you never know who you might help!