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Another way to feed your baby during the formula shortage

Breastfeeding specialists say, while not everybody can breastfeed, there are more options than most people know about.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — There is another way to feed your baby during the formula shortage. Breastfeeding specialists say, while not everybody can breastfeed, there are more options than most people know about. Those options range from sharing breast milk to medically inducing lactation in some people.

Dr. Jess Tucker is a family medicine physician and breastfeeding specialist for OhioHealth. She opened her lactation consulting clinic on Wednesday. 

She said some mothers may want to go back to breastfeeding after using formula.

“It's not that simple at all,” Dr. Tucker said. “Breastfeeding begins with pregnancy, and then really is initiated and sustained immediately after pregnancy. For somebody who's been formula feeding their baby for even just a couple of weeks, it would be very difficult to bring in realistically any meaningful supply, even just a couple of weeks postpartum.”

But it's not impossible. 

Dr. Tucker said some people can be induced to lactate using medication and a breast pump. She said it does not happen overnight, however, it can be done even for people who have never previously lactated, or for transgender people.

But there are still more options for those unable to lactate on their own. Dr. Tucker recommends mothers look to older traditions.

“Generations of mothers through the years have banded together to provide food for other mothers’ babies, and this crisis really is no different,” Dr. Tucker said.

Dr. Tucker recommends that mothers who produce a lot of milk reach out to their family, friends and neighbors with babies. Breast milk can also be donated to milk banks or can frozen to last longer.

The baby formula shortage has led to panic among many parents who are worried about feeding their children. 

Dr. Tucker said the pressures of breastfeeding existed before the pandemic, but the shortage has made them worse for some families.

“A lot of mothers and parents just feel really nervous about admitting to someone that they're having a problem,” Dr. Tucker said. “And so really, my message to those people is that you are not alone.”

Parents who need to receive lactation support can call 740-645-4942 or visit the following locations: 

  • 1638 North Memorial Drive in Lancaster
  • 290 East Town Street in Columbus

Head over to the Ohio Health website for other support options.

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