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Mother breastfeeding her baby boy at home

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A nationwide baby formula shortage is calling for mothers to consider breastfeeding. New data shows 43 percent of baby formula is out of stock and the numbers are increasing. There was also a recall of baby formulas manufactured at Abbott Laboratories, including Similac, Alimentum and EleCare, due to infants suffering from a serious bacterial infection after consuming formulas from that location.

While this seems like a no brainer, breastfeeding isn’t an easy task.

Many mothers start out breastfeeding but later switch to formula due to reasons like clogged milk ducts, which is painful, breast tissue becoming infected, latching issues, not producing enough milk or suffering from cracked and bleeding nipples. Breastfeeding can be a challenge for working mothers, as well, who must spend a significant amount of time away from their baby. According to The New York Times, 84 percent of babies start out being breastfed but less than 50 percent are exclusively breastfed through three months.

Once a breastfeeding individual discontinues, their breasts stop producing milk. Trying to re-lactate is difficult and for some breastfeeders it’s impossible. Dr. Casey Rosen-Carole, director of the breastfeeding and lactation medicine program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, told the Times that “the physiology of breastfeeding is not especially resilient, in that once it’s over it’s very hard to build it back.”

Breastfeeding is also linked to postpartum depression in new moms. Studies show mothers who have a difficult time breastfeeding are more likely to experience postpartum depression.

“I can’t tell you how many women walk through our doors and say, ‘It started with breastfeeding,’” Paige Bellenbaum, founding director of The Motherhood Center, told the Times. 

Dr. Alison Stuebe, an OB-GYN and professor at the University North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, said the assumption that mothers can produce all the breast milk necessary for their baby “is not predicated on reality. Every person can’t make all the insulin they need. That’s why there’s a disease called type 1 diabetes — and we don’t say, ‘Well, if you just tried harder, you wouldn’t need that medicine.’”


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