Author: TLN

The infant formula crisis: What TLN is doing, what you can do, and why “just breastfeed!” is ridiculous advice.

To our TLN families and lactation consultant partners,

Like many of you, we’ve been gripped by stories of the ongoing formula crisis and are disheartened to hear of the families struggling to feed their children. We’ve also seen the recommendations to “just breastfeed,” which fail to acknowledge the realities of breastfeeding, something that we’ve worked hard to educate about and overcome. 

We are heartbroken. We are fired up. And we are taking action. 

What TLN is doing

The Lactation Network exists to provide lactation care to families who want and need it. By delivering expert, insurance-covered care, we can support more families in their breastfeeding journeys. 

We also know that while breastfeeding may be natural, it is not always easy and it is absolutely not free. Many families do not have the time, the resources, the support, or the physical ability to breastfeed their babies. For many of these families, the mental anguish that follows becomes an unbearable weight. Feeding decisions are intensely personal, and reasons to use formula are both varied and valid. And for most families, re-lactating is not a reasonable–or even possible–solution.

That’s why TLN also exists to advocate for policies that drive equal and inclusive access to this crucial care and that help families nationwide. We are currently in contact with policy makers at the local, state and federal level to promote comprehensive solutions to a complex challenge. Legislation like the new Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act and the invocation of the Defense Production Act and Operation Fly Formula are part of that. However, while ramping up formula production right now is crucial, it will take time for formula supply to return to the retail shelf and we know that is too long for something as essential as formula. 

So here’s what we can do: On average, there are 10,200 babies born every day. That means that before this crisis is over, at least one million families will have welcomed new babies–and they won’t know if they’ll be able to feed them. These families need prenatal lactation care. This means a prenatal lactation consultation to set them up for breastfeeding success, whatever that means for them. And for families with newborns, this means postpartum lactation consultations to support and extend their breastfeeding journeys, if they want. Again, this is not about re-lactation; it’s helping current and new breastfeeding families meet their goals, while simultaneously easing the additional burden on the formula supply chain.

What you can do

You may be wondering what you can do as well. The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine is an incredible resource for reliable, up-to-date information. 

If you are currently breastfeeding, you can consider donating any excess milk to a local milk bank that is certified by the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) or a similar organization. If you combo feed, want to increase your breastmilk supply, relactate, or pump more to help others, reach out to your IBCLC for support and guidance.

If you use and need formula, reach out to your Pediatrician, who may be able to help. They can offer guidance on switching to a different formula or the timing and appropriateness of introducing solid foods.

While experts in human lactation, our lactation consultants are trained to help families through all methods of infant feeding and can meet with you to offer resources and help you navigate this difficult and anxiety-inducing time. You can also find more information and recommendations via the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Lactation Consultant Association.

The last few years have challenged all of us in ways we could hardly imagine. This formula crisis is the latest test of who we are as a people. To the families who are struggling to feed their babies and to the lactation experts across the country helping every day: Our hearts are with you, our minds are with you, and it is a privilege to raise our voices alongside you. 

Now more than ever, our charter could not be more clear: We will not stop until every family has access to the care they deserve.