Breastfeeding as option amid formula shortage

Can you restart breastfeeding after quitting?

Lactation expert Suzanne Juel of Bayou City Breastfeeding offers her insights into breastfeeding as the nation faces a shortage of baby formula.

The formula shortage has plenty of mothers thinking about breastfeeding. Many families have questions about breastfeeding. [See full details on the formula shortage here.] Lactation Consultant Suzanne Juel, IBCLC RLC, from Bayou City Breastfeeding answered questions from KPRC 2 Anchors Lauren Freeman and Keith Garvin. You can watch the interview in the video player above or read the questions and answers below.


Question: You are seeing a surge of new mothers trying to start lactating again due to the formula shortage? And is that possible?

Answer: It is possible and we are getting some requests for moms to learn how to relax. Even if you haven’t breastfed you can induce lactation. But it’s difficult. But definitely, relaxation is something that we’re interested in right now.

As well as just increasing the milk supply. What a lot of people don’t realize is that a large percentage of women who are breastfeeding, almost 36% of breastfeeding babies also receive formula. I looked at the rates for Texas and for the United States, and roughly around that amount are a little bit more things who are breastfeeding also received formula.


Question: You said that restarting lactation it’s a difficult process. But what is the process that is entailed? What can a mother do to restart that process?

Answer: So if she’s still producing breast milk increasing stimulation is the biggest thing that will increase milk supply. There are supplements and things that you can take. Ultimately, breast milk supply is supply and demand. A newborn baby is going to typically breastfeed eight to 12 times every 24-hour period. So if your baby is no longer feeding the breast, then we put a breast pump in place, and you have to come about every three hours to stimulate that milk supply.


Question: What about what are your thoughts on mothers sharing, donating, or selling their milk to help out other moms?

Answer: Informal milk sharing is not a new thing. We’ve had high wet nurses for a long, long time. It’s been went kind of out of vogue in recent years, but there still has been remote sharing going on this whole time. It’s just now becoming more prevalent. There is a group called eatsgeeks.org. They have established what we call the four pillars of safe precedent sharing. These are kind of the standards that you want to go through if you want to use somebody or if you want to share breast milk with somebody else. And those standards are informed choices understanding that there is some risk to it.

Doing donor screening can include labs or blood tests. You’ll also want to make sure it’s being handled properly.


Question: What is the concern about selling breastmilk?

Answer: There’s some concern about selling, just because when you start putting money into the equation, then there’s the possibility that there might be adulterated like it might they might add milk to the breast milk to make it look like there’s more out there.

It’s a little bit of a gray area when we start talking about selling breast milk. Most of the moms that I know who have donated or that have shared press will do it from a donation standpoint. They’re doing it from an altruistic standpoint. They’re wanting to help babies. And so they’re not looking for making money from it. They’re really just if there’s any exchange of money to replace the supplies or storage bags.


RELATED: This is how Houstonians and Texans can get help during the formula shortage

The team at Bayou City Breastfeeding (BCB) has offices in Houston, Kingwood, Conroe, Cypress, Jones Road, Katy, and Webster. They also offer home and virtual visits. BCB is taking donations to help offset the visit fees for families who do not have insurance coverage for lactation services. You can find details on the grant fund here.


About the Author:

News anchor, Mrs. and happy mommy of four boys.