Published on May 24, 2022

Forrest General Hospital Lactation Consultant Offers Tips For Nursing Mothers During Formula Shortage

HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (May 24, 2022) A nationwide formula shortage has many Pine Belt mothers in a panic about having an adequate supply of milk to feed their babies or finding enough once their supplies get low. Many mothers have taken to social media to try and locate this precious commodity. Forrest General Hospital Certified Lactation Specialist, Michelle Roberts, RN, CLC, offers some tips for nursing mothers that might help alleviate fears of low milk supply.

Roberts suggests that nursing moms make sure they are nursing their baby on demand, they have a correct latch, and they offer both breasts at each feeding for added stimulation. “During the nursing session, mothers can try using a Haakaa Pump on the opposite breast from where the baby is nursing to help stimulate the supply,” she said. “I had one mom really increase her supply by using this pump on both breasts in between feedings.” Roberts also suggests mothers can do some breast massage and compression during feedings to help her infant take in more and help to empty her breasts better.

Another tip to help a mom try and increase her milk supply, if she has a noticeable decrease, is to add some pumping sessions, in addition to nursing or to incorporate power pumping in to her regular pumping routine. “Mom would power pump during one of her usual pumping times,” said Roberts. “Power pumping is a way to imitate the cluster feeding a baby would do to naturally increase her supply.” In order to power pump, a mom, pumps off and on at intervals for about an hour – pump for 20 minutes, rest for 10, pump for 10, rest for 10, and then pump again for 10. According to Roberts, doing this once per day is a great way to increase a mother’s supply. It usually does take a few days to increase a mom’s supply, so she may not see an increase in her supply immediately, but she shouldn’t get discouraged!

If power pumping sounds a bit too extreme for the mom, Roberts suggests she can also increase the duration of how long she pumps (ex: if she pumps for 15 minutes each session, she needs to pump 20 to increase her supply). “I usually recommend for mom to pump for about 5 minutes after the milk stops flowing for extra stimulation,” Roberts said. “If pumping is uncomfortable, a mom can always put a bit of lanolin around her pumping flanges to help with some of the friction, she can try a silicone flange inserted for some extra cushion, or she could hand express into a milk collection device.”

For moms who have an excess of stored milk, donation to a milk bank is always an option. Forrest General Hospital serves as one of the state’s 12 drop-off centers for the Mother’s Milk Bank of Mississippi. Milk collected from these centers is distributed to primarily neonatal intensive care units in the state. Donations from the milk banks/depots is thoroughly screened and treated for viruses or undetected, and the donors are required to meet specific health requirements.

Roberts warns those who are buying breast milk from donors off social media sites, should use some caution. “While it is a wonderful thing for those moms to help other moms by giving away (or even selling) their breast milk, milk sharing is not recommended as there are definitely risks associated with it,” said Roberts, “and there is no guarantee that the milk is 100 percent safe.”

According to the CDC's website, both the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Food and Drug Administration also recommend avoiding internet-based milk sharing sites, and instead recommend contacting milk banks. There are several diseases that can be transmitted through breast milk, such as HIV, CMV (cytomegalovirus), syphilis, hepatitis, thrush, etc. The nicotine in cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, a lot of drugs, and medications can also be transferred through breast milk as well, whether it is prescribed, over the counter, herbal supplements or illegal/street drugs. There are also other concerns of if that milk was collected correctly or stored properly, so the milk may be contaminated or spoiled. “If you are not acquiring your breast milk through vetted sources, such as a milk bank, you cannot know for sure that milk is 100 percent safe for your baby,” Roberts said.

For more about lactation services at Forrest General Hospital, visit ForrestGeneral.com/lactation.

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