Shortage of infant formula is hurting parents at the worst possible time

Placeholder while loading article actions

Maria Murillo had planned to breastfeed her baby. He was born early, at 38 weeks, because the amniotic fluid that kept him alive was so low. “I strongly believe that my body could have produced milk or kept Caleb alive,” she said. “He couldn’t do both.”

After two and a half months of trying to breastfeed and a long search for a formula that didn’t irritate Caleb’s stomach, Murillo and her husband now face a daunting new task: trying to find enough Similac Pro formula. -Total Comfort to keep their hungry 5 month old boy fed. It’s not on shelves in and around Rockville, Md., where she lives; it’s not online. Murillo turned to Facebook Marketplace and “found a woman who stocked it in New York. I bought 40 bottles from her. Knowing Caleb would go through this quickly, she bought more from a stranger in Tennessee. She and her husband reached out to family and friends across the United States, asking them to research the formula as well.

“It just brings me back to that dark place where I felt so inadequate,” Murillo said, tearing up. “My job as a mum is to feed him, and I couldn’t. And now we’re back to that place where we can’t get him formula.

Pandemic-related supply chain issues and a February recall by manufacturer Abbott, which makes Similac and other brands of formulas, led to dwindling inventory on the shelves for months. Last week, the supply of infant formula across the country was 43% below normal.

The shortage of infant formula in the United States worries parents. Here’s what you need to know.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 4 parents exclusively breastfeed their babies until they are 6 months old, which means most babies are at least partially fed formula. For many infants, formula is their only source of food. The empty shelves struck terror and despair among parents, who had to travel miles, pay exorbitant prices and seek help from online community groups.

Many parents feel abandoned — there are senators who did not know their constituents’ babies had no food until a reporter asked for it – at a time of enormous pressure and little support. Women are invited tojust breastfeedas if there was a switch to turn on the milk. Alongside the regular indignities of parents in the United States, where there is no mandatory paid leave and child care is out of reach, recent events have provided new ones: there is still no no coronavirus vaccine for children under 5, and new laws restricting abortion could threaten the treatment of miscarriage.

A shortage of formula milk is heavy for many mothers, in part because breastfeeding is heavy. Many mothers want to breastfeed, or feel obligated to breastfeed, or feel that they are not “mother” enough if they don’t breastfeed. But there are plenty of reasons why that doesn’t work, including a society that doesn’t give mothers enough time at home after birth before returning to work. The needle has moved a bit from “Breast is better” to “Fed is better”, but neither of those mundane sayings, now that this formula isn’t readily available. , is not easy.

“You have huge responsibilities that come with being a new parent, and now you have the inability to feed your child,” Murillo said. “It just seems like it’s all piling up.”

What It’s Like To Have A Baby In States Most Likely To Ban Abortion

For Jamie Lee Marks, “it looks like a coordinated attack” on new parents.

Marks gave birth under a mask during the pandemic. She didn’t have paid leave because her son was born in late August instead of October 1, the one-year mark that would allow the leave to go into effect at the federal agency where she worked. Instead, she used most of her sick leave to stay home with her newborn baby for 12 weeks. And then Marks quit her job for another, because she was so angry.

Now, despite driving 40 minutes each way so she and her husband could put their son in a small, safe daycare center, her son has been sick on and off for seven weeks since people stopped wearing masks in public, Marks said. She now hopes she won’t have to return to the office until he is vaccinated. Her son is now 20 months old and he no longer has the formula he needed to survive. She donates her leftover unopened cans to anyone who can use them. “I can’t imagine” adding a shortage of formula on top of everything, she said. “I feel like parents [of children] the under 5s have been forgotten by all.

Mac Jaehnert’s daughter, MacKenzie, was born just six months after his wife’s pregnancy. She was airlifted from their home in eastern Washington to Seattle, where she remained in the NICU for four months. MacKenzie could only have one type of formula when she returned home on March 21, and she was nowhere to be found. “Last week, I visited six grocery stores in one day,” Jaehnert said. “You shouldn’t have to play the game of basically calling every store like you’re trying to get a new PS5, when you’re just trying to get food for your kid.”

Jaehnert and his wife spent hours looking for formula in Seattle, where their daughter always has dates. His wife is on a Facebook page for local moms, and she received formula donations from another parent whose child was transitioning to solid foods. They also recruited family members from other parts of the country to search for him. Jaehnert’s father recently showed up with a Mother’s Day gift: six boxes of Neosure formula he brought from Milwaukee.

“We have this kind of medically fragile child,” he said. “And I spent more of my paternity leave than I care to think about running around the shops looking for formula milk, rather than spending time with my child. My wife feels guilty for not being able to breastfeed and provide for our child. This is a very emotional question for us.

Murillo said she was still “luckier than most”. She has a friend who only had three weeks off after the birth of her baby, but Murillo was able to get five months and one week off from her full-time job as chief paralegal. And yet, she still feels like she’s not doing enough. “Some people choose to give formula milk right off the bat. It wasn’t what I wanted,” Murillo said. “You have these dark thoughts that you’re a bad parent. And now you fail him again.

Amy Mello tried to help her sister find formula milk where she lives in North Texas. Mello is due to have her second child “any day” and also realizes she might be in trouble. Her first son, now 3, had severe allergies and needed the Puramino formula. She recently looked online to see if he was available in case her second child had the same needs, but he’s sold out. She found four cans on a resale site for $500. (It’s usually about $45 per container.) Depending on the baby’s age, this will last two to three weeks.

After raising their first child in a pandemic, “we waited to have another one, and we thought things were getting back to normal. And now it’s like we really don’t have any formula,” Mello said. “I don’t remember there being problem after problem when my mother had children. It’s not like there’s any better support from the rest of the country – no parental leave or anything. But at least they had no shortage of formula.

Mello said she has friends who say they don’t want to have kids at all. “I’m just as good, don’t do it unless you really want to,” she said. “Because parenthood is great, but the systems in place to help raise the kids currently feel broken, making it even harder for parents than it needs to be.”

Do you have a question about parenthood? Ask for La Poste.

Comments are closed.