Local moms step up to donate breast milk amid national baby formula shortage

Mothers’ Milk Northeast has a freezer full of breast milk in store, ready to help moms who need it.

Mothers’ Milk Northeast accepts donations from moms who produce more milk than their babies need to thrive. After multiple screenings, testing and pasteurization, the milk is sent out– mostly to babies in neonatal intensive care units at over 100 hospitals, but also to anxious parents amid a national baby formula shortage.

“When our supply allows, (we’ve) been able to support parents with small amounts of donor milk who are coming forward and we want to be helpful and supportive in that way,” said Deborah Youngblood, executive director of Mothers’ Milk Northeast. “We’ve heard from parents who are so concerned, rightfully so, and looking for additional resources to help feed their babies.”

The nationwide formula shortage stems from a safety recall over the winter, with a major plant operated by formula-maker Abbott still shut down, other manufacturers have said they’re producing at full capacity, but it’s still not enough to meet demand.

As stores impose limits on formula purchases and parents face empty shelves at stores, more breastfeeding moms have stepped up to fill in the gaps.

Youngblood said the immediate focus now must be on solving the shortage, but going forward, the crisis has shined a light on the need for additional resources for new moms.

“One of the things we don’t talk about enough in this country is how we can better support moms who might be willing, able, and it works for their baby to breastfeed,” she said.

She said that includes investments in lactation consultants, better workplace practices and family support for whatever feeding method a mother chooses.

“We don’t need more stigma,” she said. “We need more options and choices for parents that work for them to take care of their babies.”

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