With major recalls and supply chain snafus, the baby formula crisis has hit critical mass and is affecting caregivers (and, of course, babies). But no—before you utter another word, breastfeeding is not the solution to the baby formula shortage.
Though the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends six months of exclusive breastfeeding (continuing to a year or more with supplemented foods if so desired), breastfeeding is not possible for everyone. For one, especially in a country like the United States that offers no parental leave, many people simply do not have the time to body feed—they have to go back to work, which likely has zero infrastructure for pumping let alone bringing an infant into the workspace to nurse.
There's also the fact that there is quite a steep learning curve for breastfeeding for both parent and child. Not only does it take time to feed a baby via breastmilk, but it actually takes time to learn how to do this, and in some cases, requires outside support (another out-of-pocket expense) from a lactation or feeding specialist. Another (myriad) of reasons breastfeeding is not a solution to the formula shortage is that not all birthing people produce milk (or enough of it), not all babies tolerate it and most importantly, not all parents want to do it at all.
And while there are a million and one reasons to not breastfeed, one of the biggest heartbreaks of motherhood may also be one of its earliest (way to test our strength there, universe): Wanting to breastfeed your baby but not being able to. And anyone who has Googled “Am I making enough milk?!” in the middle of the night may not find much comfort on the internet. (Go figure.) Here, former Harvard Medical School instructor, ob-gyn and mother of four breastfed children Dr. Amy Tuteur shares scientific evidence that not all moms are able to nurse, no matter how hard they try. Plus, evidence that that’s really and truly OK.