SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — As the formula shortage persists, many people are asking the same question online: Why not breastfeed? For two expecting mothers in the Sioux Falls area, that question is pushing them to alter their feeding plans before their babies arrive this July.
Jenna Cook is the mother of a 2-year-old boy and is expecting her second child this summer. With her son, she exclusively breastfed for the first 13 months. But despite having relied on breastmilk in the past, Cook was hoping to rely on formula this time around.
Cook explained that it was hard on her relationships and social life to be pumping so much with her first child.
“Always having to be away and not being able to spend time with my family or my kid,” was difficult, according to Cook.
Time is just one of many reasons why a mother may choose not to breastfeed according to Sanford physician, Dr. Michael Naegle.
“Depending on your work situation you might not be able to pump or breastfeed and keep that supply up,” Naegle said.
In addition to the amount of time needed to breastfeed, Naegle said that milk supply and pain may also affect whether a woman is able to breastfeed their child.
“There’s a whole list of factors that affect milk supply,” Naegle said. “Not everyone has milk come in and some people try to feed their baby and are successful at it and then their supply dries up while they’re still breastfeeding.”
For first-time mom Jacqueline Bergeson, she’s just hoping that she is able to produce enough milk for her child to rely on.
Bergeson is also due in July and initially was planning to breastfeed and supplement with formula if needed. Now, she’s preparing to rely exclusively on breastfeeding.
“Now with the formula shortage and seeing how much they are when they do have them in stock it’s like, no we are going to exhaust all efforts to breastfeed before we have to switch to formula,” Bergeson said.
Bergeson works at a daycare and says she’s watched parents struggle to find formula for their children and says it’s been scary thinking about her own child.
“I have to feed my kid. It’s not like I can’t just be like ‘I didn’t get much today but maybe tomorrow will be better,’” Bergeson said.
Bergeson is following the advice of her midwife to find natural remedies to boost her supply of breastmilk for when the baby arrives. While it’s not guaranteed, she said that she’s willing to try to boost production to avoid struggling with supply in the future.
For now, Bergeson has some formula samples from companies and is keeping an eye out for extra formula on Facebook for the future.
“I don’t want to take it away from any parents that have babies right now but if nobody claims it, we might need it,” Bergeson said.
Dr. Naegle said that each parent should work with their OB/GYN and pediatrician to determine what is best for them. Whether they choose to breastfeed or use formula, Naegle suggests preparing in advance to find resources that support your decision. That could include researching formula brands, learning how to mix different ones, or looking into lactation consultants and breastmilk donation centers.
“Fed is really what’s best,” Naegle said.
For Cook, after seeing the shortage of formula on the shelves, she immediately made the decision to breastfeed to help other moms find the formula they need to feed their children right now. As she awaits her newborn’s arrival, she’s hoping that her supply matches what she had with her first child so that she can start nursing right away.
“I can always start to breastfeed and change my mind later but if I just formula-feed off the bat it’s going to be hard to get that milk supply to come later down the road, if necessary,” Cook said.
Both Sanford Health and Avera Medical Group offer breastfeeding and lactation consultants for mothers who choose to breastfeed. Sanford also has resources on breastfeeding within different communities through their FindHelp service.
Dr. Naegle also suggests using the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website to find resources for formula and breastmilk in your area.