‘We live in a society that pushes formula, only to fail us by not having it available.’: Mom reacts to national formula shortage

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“The formula shortage is a prime example of how the United States is failing mothers.

There is a deep-rooted problem here, and it comes down to more than formula. Have you heard the ‘just breastfeed then’ comment thrown around? I have. As a breastfeeding mother myself, as well as an obstetrical RN, this comment is naïve and hurtful.

Our country has failed us. There is an unspoken expectation for American mothers to care for their children without proper support, and with few (and often expensive or hard sought after) resources. This has become normal, and our country has turned a blind eye.

Have you ever looked at the exclusive breastfeeding rates in the United States in comparison to other developed countries? It would astonish you, and not in a good way.

There is no denying that breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for an infant. There have been countless studies and heaps of research into this fact. So why don’t all women breastfeed? That’s an extremely loaded question, but it comes down to two critical things this country doesn’t acknowledge: lack of support and resources.

There are, of course, exceptions here:

The women who simply can’t breastfeed.

Strong as hell mamas who had mastectomies after battling breast cancer.

The heroic mama who has health problems which require her to take medications incompatible with breastfeeding.

The mama who fought through infertility for years and was blessed with her rainbow baby through a surrogate.

The determined mama who did everything possible, with all the resources in the world, and still her body doesn’t make enough milk.

Just to name a few. Those women are kick-ass moms. Those women are the reason formula is necessary.

However, most mamas don’t fit into this category. Most women have the ability to breastfeed successfully, but they were failed by our system. Our system which forces women back to work and deprives them of resources and support to feed their child in a way that is proven beneficial for both their health and that of their child.

In case you didn’t know this, breastfeeding is hard as hell. It takes an unbelievable amount of sacrifice and time. It takes hard work and dedication. It takes fighting through bad latches, newborn weight loss, clusterfeeding, and teething. It takes being the only one able to feed your baby at 3 a.m., and dealing with the lingering sleep deprivation as a result.

It takes a huge commitment of time and work. Time most mothers don’t have because they are forced far too soon to go back to work for fear of losing their career or not financially supporting their family. Work many moms simply can’t put in because they have no support or anyone to tell them their concerns are valid and help them troubleshoot solutions.

Moms are bombarded by ‘Breast is Best’ messages, but the moment they ask for help, they are met with, ‘I’m sorry, here’s some formula.’

Your baby lost weight? Formula.

You’re not producing enough? Formula.

You have to go back to work? Formula.

You feel like you don’t have any help? Just give your baby formula.


Where is the support? Where is the protected, paid maternity leave? Where is the universal and easily accessed lactation support after you leave the hospital? Where is the society that kindly allows you to feed your hungry child in public without looming eyes of judgement? Where is the workplace that allows a mom to pump without guilt, and in an appropriate place?

We live in a society that pushes formula, that has made women and children dependent on formula, only to fail us by not having it available. Families are suffering, mothers are struggling, and women and children are hurting.

To you it may just seem like formula, but I promise you, the issue is far deeper than that.”

Woman breastfeeds her baby while her toddler attempts to steal her hat
Courtesy of Heather Maldonado

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Heather Maldonado of Florida.  Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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