As parents across the nation continue dealing with an ongoing formula shortage, local organizations in Massachusetts are trying to do what they can to be part of the solution.
Mother's Milk Bank Northeast, one of the largest nonprofit donor breast milk banks in the region, is one of several organizations contending with a growing need for their services. Executive Director Deborah Youngblood said she's hopeful the circumstances will enhance awareness and access to parents for years to come.
According to state data, about 80% of mothers decide to breastfeed in Massachusetts. By six months, that rate decreases to about 58%. Local organizations including Mother's Milk Bank Northeast and the Mass. Breastfeeding Coalition hope that with more focus and awareness, they can help close that gap.
More on the Formula Shortage
Mother's Milk Bank Northeast has been busy preparing donor milk for moms in need, focusing first on medically fragile babies in area hospitals.
“It's pasteurized and refrozen," Youngblood said. “We want milk donation to be as commonly understood as blood donation."
In some cases, the organization will serve the public through doctor referrals, a need they’ve seen growing as formula availability keeps shrinking.
“What we want people to understand is that, you know, this is another option," Youngblood said. "It isn't an option for sort of full feeding long-term for babies, but it is a great sort of short-term option that's safe.”
The Mass. Breastfeeding Coalition is seeing a similar demand from parents searching for support and answers.
"We are seeing a huge increase in moms accessing information around how to use breast pump, increasing milk supply using breast pump," Chairwoman Emily Sylvester said.
The surge has the statewide zipmilk.org website now undergoing a revamp.
“Our goal is to make the resources more accessible, easier to find. Updating the map," Sylvester said.
As the shortage appears to only grow more serious—these organizations are eager to be part of a long-term solution.
“We want to become an increasingly available resource in communities," Sylvester said. "It reinvigorates us as women and parents and birthing people to say, I have a voice in this."