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BABY FORMULA SHORTAGE: Moms and experts share resources, options

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – It’s a problem many mothers and families are facing across the nation - where is my baby’s next meal coming from? It’s a question new mother Tosha Anderson had to ask herself just this week.

“What we use is sold out everywhere,” Anderson said. “As of yesterday, we had a week and a half, two weeks left.”

Luckily, after some searching, Anderson was able to find some formula at a neighboring CVS. Not all parents are that lucky. It was that realization that prompted her to start Formula Finder - Minnesota; a Facebook group aimed to help parents with the search.

Tosha Anderson started a Facebook group to help connect families looking for formula in...
Tosha Anderson started a Facebook group to help connect families looking for formula in Minnesota.(FREE TO USE)

“I think a lot of people are really excited just to have some help in this,” she said. “They don’t have to drive all over and across state lines to get what they need.”

Anderson said the group is open to anyone - whether they are parents or just someone who wants to help parents in need. In just 24 hours, the group now shares with members all over the state, from Dayton, to Brainerd, Rochester, Kasson and more.

At Olmsted Medical Center, about 90 percent of moms opt to breastfeed. Tonya Koehler, an OMC lactation consultant, expects that number to skyrocket this summer.

“The shortages are definitely making them seek other options or plans,” Koehler said. “Some of them just want knowledge. Maybe they weren’t considering that, and they want a better understanding of how it can fit in their life.”

Koehler said one of the myths moms have about breastfeeding is that it’s all or nothing. She said it’s actually quite customizable.

The shortage is prompting some mothers to try relactation - something Koehler said herself and her team at OMC are happy to help with. The first two weeks after childbirth is critical to ensure a full milk supply, but moms can attempt relactation up to a month after childbirth, too.

“How the milk supply works is, you have about a month to really build a supply and tell the brain and hormones that breastfeeding is an option the mom is looking for, even 25 percent, 10 percent is something.”

Koehler adds that supplementing formula with partial breastfeeding can help take some of the stress off parents on the hunt for formula during this shortage. Even so, it’s still not an option for everyone.

“Breastfeeding isn’t always a choice,” Mayo Clinic Mother Baby and Patient Nurse Manager Rebecca Ashbeck said. “We have a lot of moms who try it. It’s something that they try and for some families it doesn’t go as expected.”

Anderson is one of them - while she said she wishes she could, breastfeeding isn’t an option for her 12 week old.

“There have been formula shortages previously,” Ashbeck said. “This isn’t something new. Anytime you have something you purchase in a store, there’s protentional for a recall just like we had. It’s kind of a perfect storm to put us in this space.”

Ashbeck encourages mothers with a healthy milk supply to donate.

“It’s a great solution,” she said. “But just like formula, there’s limitations as well. We definitely always need more donors. It’s something we use at our NICUs and Mother-Baby units. We definitely support the use of it, but just like formula, we always need more donors.”

Milk isn’t free, and some milk banks do require a prescription. Moms can donate, after a screening process, at a depot location in Rochester. It’s located at Mayo Family Clinic Southeast, 4544 Canal Place SE, Rochester, MN 55904. Mothers can donate Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Parents cannot purchase donated milk at the Rochester location, but the Mother’s Milk Bank of Iowa does offer shipping.

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