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Central Georgia mothers turn to breastfeeding amid baby formula shortage

The formula shortage has some mothers returning to breastfeeding.

MACON, Ga. — After a severe shortage formula shortage this year, the baby formula supply is still not back to normal. One lactation nurse says some mothers are returning to breastfeeding to feed their little ones.

Ashley O'Neal works for Piedmont Macon. Her goal is to let moms know that the choice to breastfeed is theirs.

"Whether they want to breastfeed or they want to formula feed, or do a mixture of both or exclusively pump, that option is always theirs. We're not here to force anybody into anything. The biggest thing about breastfeeding is that it shouldn't be painful -- you may be a little sore, but nothing where you're cringing your toes and crying because you have to latch a baby on. It should not be that way," O'Neal said.

The shortage started after a formula maker recalled its product and stopped production. According to the market research firm, Information Resources Incorporated, 20% of formula products were out of stock leading up to July 24th. 

At Piedmont Macon Medical Center, their lactation office teaches mothers and soon to be mothers how breastfeeding works. They talk about challenges, nutrition value, and positioning. In some cases, new moms do not breastfeed as long as they would like to. One mom says the journey to breastfeeding can be scary but support is possible.

"One reason I really wanted to do it was because I think it's just fascinating that we can give the nutrients to sustain our children with just our body," said Paige Parker.

Parker recently gave birth to her daughter, Alice Gregory Parker, in late July. She knows getting those nutrients from mother to child can be difficult.

"I have a lot of friends that gave up really quick because it was hard for them and because they didn't have the right support," Parker said.

Parker says breastfeeding allowed her to not have to worry about the formula shortage. O'Neal says the shortage was concerning, but mothers were looking for other ways to feed.

"We definitely seen an increase in mothers trying to breastfeed," O'Neal said.

Parker encourages other mothers to breastfeed if they can and, "Every new mother can learn that there can be support in the breastfeeding journey if that's what they want to do."

Piedmont Macon Medical Center offers lactation consulting and you can call them if you have any breastfeeding concerns. Their number is (478) 765-4502.

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