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Info and Resources for the Formula Shortage

I have a colleague who's a recently retired IBCLC (International Board of Certified Lactation Consultants).  When she was practicing, each time she would test for her certification, she would always get the highest scores in the country.  She's extremely knowledgeable and very experienced.  I am blessed to know and work with many extremely experienced and knowledgeable lactation consultants.  

She wrote a piece yesterday about the formula shortage and what moms can do.  She's given me permission to share it with you.  Here's what she wrote:  (Please note that I have also reached out to some of my other equally qualified and experienced IBCLC's for their input, information and advice that they may have.  I will add these below when I hear back from them, in different colors to make new information easy to see.  Please check back for any new information.  Anyway, here's the first one for you:

So far, ALL of the advice I’ve read in response to the commercial infant formula shortage is wrong. Most of this unhelpful and incorrect advice boils down to “if you can’t feed commercial infant formula, don’t feed at all,” or “beg formula from people who can’t give you any,” or “feed inappropriate foods.” I hope these incorrect articles disappear soon.
 
Here is an actual plan from me, someone with two university degrees in nutrition and decades of clinical experience in infant nutrition. 
 
1) Contact an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) in your area to find out what your options are regarding re-lactation. Your options are usually better than you think. This is by far the most sensible and safe course of action. Don’t delay. Start working on re-lactating/increasing your personal breastmilk production immediately. Every hour counts, and every day counts. Hospitals and WIC offices should be pressed to give you phone numbers of IBCLCs in your area, or use your favorite search engine. Accept no substitutes.
 
2) Consider donor milk. Someone you know and trust may already be breastfeeding. Also, consider asking family members if anyone is willing to lactate or re-lactate. This is the second safest option to supplementing your own supply, assuming donors are screened. Home pasteurization further reduces risk.
 
3) In the absence of sufficient breastmilk or commercial infant formula to feed your baby, DO make homemade infant formula in order to meet your baby’s daily needs. The risk of any formula, homemade or commercial, is greater for newborns than for older infants. Most brand new moms will respond to an individualized action plan created with an IBCLC quickly enough not to need this. Moms of babies outside the neonatal period may need more time to re-lactate.
 
You must have access to canned evaporated milk (NOT condensed milk), a fresh jar of corn syrup, clean water, and a cook stove.
 
Don’t invent your own recipe; follow the same simple recipe they used in the 1950s and 1960s.  Is this risky?  YES, IT IS.  But LESS risky than withholding food from a baby.
 
We’ve accepted the risk of formula feeding for decades. Homemade formula, made correctly, is somewhat riskier, but in the absence of human milk, it is the next best thing when commercial formula is not available. With guidance from an IBCLC, most moms will be able to quickly reduce the amount of formula as their own supply increases.  There will be a very small minority for whom increase will happen more slowly, or not at all. An IBCLC can help maximize everyone’s chances.
 
4) ANY amount of breastmilk will offer some protection against the risks of homemade or commercial infant formula. As the volume of breastmilk increases, the risk decreases.
 
5) Cleanliness absolutely matters. Water source matters. Be careful.
 
Here is the basic formula, found in the baby books of most senior citizens. Some pediatricians and dietitians, and all nutrition professors, have enough education to help guide you in making volume adjustments:  
 
(Please note that we here at Herb Lore do NOT endorse or encourage anyone to use any homemade recipe for an infant formula, especially in light of the fact that many infants may have special dietary needs and health situations that would make any homemade formula potentially dangerous.  Please check with your pediatrician or an IBCLC for a recipe specific for your baby.  Here is the basic formula mentioned by our IBCLC colleague only to finish her quoted material.  Again, please use caution and seek assistance from your health care provider before using any sort of homemade infant formula.) 
 
So sorry but we had to remove the recipe due to liability issues.  Her quote continues below.
 
DO NOT:
  • water down commercial infant formula
  • feed developmentally inappropriate foods
  • depend on random people to give you formula. When or if it happens, great, but don’t *depend* on a steady flow from random sources.
  • feed less often, or feed contaminated bottles when commercial infant formula is scarce

End quote.

As mentioned previously, we strongly encourage you to speak to your pediatrician, nutritionist or lactation consultant for homemade formulas that are specifically tailored for your particular baby and his/her nutritional needs.  

~~~~~

We've also had many people write in asking about goat's milk - saying that they've heard that it's the closest to human milk than the rest.  Here's what she said about that:

Fresh goat’s milk has a lower curd tension than fresh cow’s milk, which is the origin of that saying (that goat's milk is better than cow's milk for infant feeding). That is why canned cow’s milk is stipulated, because canning lowers curd tension.

Curd tension of animal milk causes micro bleeds in infants—the younger the infant, the more impact. Goat and cow milks are both nutritious, with one important exception - goat’s milk is missing folic acid for central nervous system development. If goat’s milk were fortified with folacin to the level of human milk, I think it would be a good choice. Without that, no, it’s not worth the price paid in missed opportunities for brain development. 

Goat milk requires the correct amount of folacin for an infant to be added in order to lower the risk of goat milk feeds. This is not a minor issue. It’s important to respect the folacin (folic acid) content, even for short term supplementation.  

Although I enjoy raw goat milk from carefully selected local providers, I would pasteurize any animal milk given to an infant. My tolerance for risk is automatically higher than any infant’s.

~~~~~

FROM ANOTHER TRUSTED IBCLC

This is such a complex topic to navigate but a vital one. I will say, another point to add, is there is a very true risk of goats milk in that without proper dilution, the protein load can cause kidney injury.  Unmodified/undiluted goats milk can cause (and has caused) kidney failure in some newborns.

Also, many homemade options are best with additions of multivitamins, proper fats, etc. This is why a tailored recipe, based on the individual is important.  

We do not intend to inspire fear here, but we do want to share information that would be helpful to people to keep their babies healthy, safe and fed.

~~~~~

The second part of this is what we can help you with 

1). We work with moms who are wishing to re-lactate all the time.  It can be done.  

HERE is information on the various herbs and herbal products that can help increase breastmilk production (including re-lactating).  This is found in our Articles & Information section of our website.

The ones that I would recommend would be Goat's Rue, Shatavari, or Fenugreek. 

Fenugreek is the most well-known of the herbs used to increase milk supply, but it must be used with consistency - and for some people, can cause gas in either mom or baby.  Please read THIS INFORMATION to know how to use it correctly for best results.  Using it incorrectly can possibly negatively impact your milk supply.  

Nursing Tincture Moringa Blend and Goat's Rue are recommended for moms with newborns.

The link given above will tell you about each herb or product and how it works.  (HERE'S the link again.)  You may decide to choose something else which better suits your situation, which is fine!  Use what works for you!

If you're an All-Access Member, there is an even more comprehensive article in the Premium Articles area that speaks to increasing and establishing your breastmilk supply.  

Nipple stimulation is critical factor of increasing milk production - by either putting your baby to the breast or by pumping.  Using the herbs along with this is a powerful and effective combination.


2). We're putting all of our herbs to increase breastmilk supply on sale.  The coupon code is FEEDMYBABY2022 and is a 20% discount.  Go to THIS LINK to see what all is on sale.  You'll see the May sale items there as well, but the sale descriptions at the top of the page will tell you which product is included under which coupon code.  We'll keep this sale active until the formula crisis has been resolved.


And again, if you're not lactating, please feel free to forward this on to anyone you think could use the help and information.  We have to do everything that we can so that babies don't go hungry!

If you are lactating, you can pump any extra that you may have to donate to a milk bank to help other moms with hungry babies.  


Moms are strong - we help each other and stick together!  I'm almost 60 at this point and through menopause, so lactating is not going to happen for me, BUT what I can do is to help get others the items they need to have abundant milk supplies for their babies and perhaps even someone else's baby.  There is no greater gift during this formula shortage than helping to support parents to keep babies fed.  

With love and deep respect,

Pam Caldwell

Certified Herbalist
Fertility, Pregnancy, Birth, Postpartum & Lactation Specialist

www.herblore.com

 

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