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I am a new mum and the shortage of infant formula has left me with uncertainty, panic and fear.


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When my son Joseph was born last August, he was underweight. The doctors recommended that I breastfeed and supplement with formula. I was devastated.

He is the first child for me and my husband, and when I was pregnant I dreamed of exclusively breastfeeding. But like many other families, that was not an option.

After overcoming my hesitation towards the formula, I was reassured that Joey was doing well and gaining weight and renewed my hope for a bright future for our new family. But it was quickly replaced by a new concern. In January, I noticed growing holes on the shelves of formula stores.

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Having worked in retail throughout the pandemic, I thought the supply chain issues plaguing the rest of the economy — everything from pet food to toilet paper — were finally reaching and inevitably the formula supply.

So I started buying more, aware of the hoarding mentality that compounded the initial grocery shortages and not wanting to satiate my hidden fears.

Then the encore hit, and it was hard to put my fear aside. Abbott (the maker of Similac formula, among others) recalled its powder formula and closed a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan. The stoppage suddenly escalated what was initially a reason for caution to explode into near panic.

Jenna Stocker, her husband and baby Joey

I had returned to work in November and could not breastfeed, so Joey is exclusively formula fed. He’s months away from switching to cow’s milk, and with every grocery run, the shelves are getting more sterile.

Unfortunately, I am not alone.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for the first year of an infant’s life, including exclusively for the first six months.

I am a new mum and the shortage of infant formula has left me with uncertainty, panic and fear.

Long Island, NY Target showing empty formula shelves. Photo taken by Nicole Pelletière.
(Digital Fox News)

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the actual percentage of babies born in 2018 (the latest birth year data) who were exclusively breastfed for six months was just 25.8%. This means that most babies need formula at least as a supplement until they can switch to whole cow’s milk, usually around one year old.

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Families are forced to compete with each other to find a necessity that was becoming extremely hard to find. Each visit to the store induces a tightening in my chest. I worry about not being able to provide for my baby, which compounds the guilt I already feel about not being able to breastfeed. It scares me.

I am a new mum and the shortage of infant formula has left me with uncertainty, panic and fear.

Joey Stocker, 8 months.
(Jenny Stocker)

In the months since the shortage began, my husband and I have spent countless hours on retail websites trying to find formula. We drove an incredible number of miles from store to store, most of the time coming out empty-handed. Amazon, Target, Walmart, drug stores; if the shelves are not empty, they have purchase limits per customer.

My mom texted this week, asking what kind of formula Joey is taking; “Anything we can find!” was my hasty response.

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We are lucky that our son is tolerating the rebrand, but I know other families aren’t so lucky. And it’s really no use when scarcity affects everything brands, even store generics.

How is it that the government endlessly assured that the supply chain was on the mend and stores were regaining stock, but the opposite was happening with infant formula, a life-sustaining product for infants ?

Only now have I started reading reports about it. But American moms are no closer to a solution — let alone any answers or assurances as to when the supply problem will be resolved. When White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about the shortage on Monday, she did not detail what steps the administration has taken to alleviate the problem.

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This is not surprising given that President Biden has already mocked Americans for their fears of supply shortages and it follows the same pattern we have seen time and time again from this administration: ignoring the problem , pretend it’s exaggerated, deflect blame, and offer no answers or assurances.

I am a new mum and the shortage of infant formula has left me with uncertainty, panic and fear.

Long Island, NY Target showing empty formula shelves. Photo taken by Nicole Pelletière.
(Digital Fox News)

From a president who ran a campaign based on his empathy, honesty and assertions that “the buck stops here,” he displayed none of those attributes. Now, women like me begin motherhood under a cloud of uncertainty, panic and fear.

Worry and worry are a natural feeling for parents, especially new mothers like me. But the concern is supposed to be to teach our children to be kind, independent and honest.

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It’s about watching them go through joys and disappointments and learning from their mistakes.

It’s not about whether they’ll have enough to eat tonight or whether the last box of formula on the store shelf will suffice until I find another one.

American babies and families deserve better.

Fox

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