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Moms turn to lactation specialists as baby formula shortage persists

There's been an uptick in questions from patients related to breastfeeding, according to one lactation professional based in Virginia Beach.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A combination of supply chain backups and stoppages leaves millions of families in the U.S. struggling to see a variety of baby powder formula in stock.

"What are we supposed to do. Are we supposed to just sit here and watch our kids suffer?" mother of four Janessa Mills asked. 

Because of the nationwide struggle to secure baby formula, lactation professionals in Hampton Roads are staying busy offering their support to families.

"I'm definitely seeing a lot more anxiety in mothers because I think it's not having that fallback is definitely a scary thing, but having help from a lactation professional, they're able to help navigate you and help support you," said Sarah Wydner. 

Wydner runs a group called Supply & Demand Breastfeeding Support. The registered nurse and international board-certified lactation consultant said she teaches prenatal breastfeeding classes and does lactation consults, remotely or in person.

"I always like to encourage the parents to get the information," she said. 

Challenges in finding formula are forcing mothers to consider other viable options.

"A lot of it is partial feeding, mothers who are partially breastfeeding and partially formula feeding, and they want to increase their supply more," said Wydner. "And there's been a little more of questioning about inducing lactation and re-lactation, so moms who have given up breastfeeding altogether and they're like, 'Ooh, I really want to try to breastfeed again.'"

Wydner wants parents to feel like there is someone out there to turn to.

"Just know, lactation professionals and even breastfeeding moms and families are out there wanting to support you," she added. 

As the federal government tries to source baby formula from other countries, families eagerly wait for Abbott Nutrition to reopen a key factory. While the head of the Food and Drug Administration told lawmakers that the factory could properly get up and running soon, it could take up to two months for their formula product to arrive on store shelves.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning parents and consumers about scammers taking advantage of the ongoing formula shortage. Online thieves are charging sky-high prices for formula that never gets to the doorstep, according to federal officials. 

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