BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – As the nationwide baby formula shortage continues, families in need of milk for their babies are also struggling.
On World Human Milk Donation Day, Seleyna Baker became a first-time milk donor.
“It’s already hard for newborn moms, so to do what I can (to) help them make sure that their baby is fed — it’s really, like, heartwarming,” the mother of a 5-month-old baby girl said. “Thankfully, my baby allows me — I’m able to make enough for her, so the excess... it was really important for me to help other mothers in need, especially in this time.”
Baker donated 1,200 ounces of breast milk to Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida.
After several weeks of families struggling to find baby formula, President Biden invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas.
“This is truly unprecedented,” said Laene Keith, communications coordinator with the milk bank. Mother’s Milk Bank of Florida is experiencing an increase of families in search of help.
“What we’re seeing in one week previously, we’re now seeing in one day,” Keith said. “An uptick in emails, telephone calls, DMs on social media.”
The Orlando-based organization said they’re getting about 15 calls per day from parents in need of human milk for their babies and calls from potential milk donors.
But can a baby who’s been drinking baby formula be fed human milk?
“Absolutely. If a family desires to navigate what we classify as re-lactation, a family may choose to research a concept called re-lactation,” Keith said.
The process to make a human milk donation takes about a month. Prior to the donation, the donors first go through a screening process by phone, and then lab work gets done a process free to donors.
“If you get down to five days, four days, that’s when you need to start talking to your pediatrician,” said Dr. Sheila McLeod, a pediatrician with Health First. Dr. Mcleod said parents should first consult with their baby’s pediatrician before making the switch to human milk and warned against homemade recipes to make your own baby formula.
“If they get to the point where they’re running out of formula, please contact your pediatrician because we have alternative resources,” McLeod said. “It’s really important to — one — not to try to make your own formula and to not dilute any that you have currently. Children are very sensitive to the ingredients of formula of the food they take, and it can be dangerous.”
Doctors said if a parent decides to feed their baby human milk that’s been donated, the first step is to research the milk bank and make sure it’s a reputable place.