Parents consider breast milk donations, lactation consultants during formula shortage

While many parents are feeling anxious as the nationwide baby formula shortage continues, some mothers are stepping up to donate their breast milk. 

"With my first, I struggled with not having a proper supply," said Isabelle Praget, a West Seattle mom.  

Knowing the stresses that new moms experience, Praget decided to help ease what they're going through now with the nationwide shortage.  When FOX 13 talked to her Monday, Praget had already made at least three trips to drop off donated breast milk at Nurturing Expressions in West Seattle. 

She said she saw other moms struggling and had to step in.  

"There is natural anxiety of becoming a mom, and then you add the anxiety of a pandemic and then this shortage. There is a lot of mixed emotions going on out there," she said.  

Praget said she's seen an increasing number of women struggling to find formula during the shortage and looking for other options. 

"More and more, I’m seeing more moms reaching out," she said.  

She said some have been turning to donated breast milk as an option, especially in "mom's" groups online.  

"Just trying to find those other options that they have for their babies," said Praget.   

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"There are some mom-sharing platforms out there," said Jenn Green, regional manager of Nurturing Expressions. "I've seen a lot more increase in those mom-sharing platforms too where they are sharing mom to mom." 

At the Nurturing Expressions location in West Seattle, Green and her team help to collect milk from donors like Isabelle. Then, she said it's shipped to Northwest Mothers Milk Bank to be processed.  

"We pack it in big freezer bags and overnight FedEx it to their center in Portland where they process the milk and get it ready for the NICU’s and for purchase distribution," said Green.    

"We’ve seen an increase in first-time donations," said Nicole Ness, Store Lead at Nurturing Expressions.  

Green said demand for lactation consultations have also increased as people have tried to increase production of their own milk.   

"If you need help with breastfeeding, with pumping and support in that realm, all of our staff is very helpful in boosting supplies." said Green. 

Green said in the last three to four months, lactation consultations have increased 25% with many parents wanting to pad their own freezers. She said that Nurturing Expressions offers lactation consultation appointments through insurance and with every pump that is purchased, they offer a free consultation.  She said the consultations can be done in person or virtually. 

Meantime, Praget is encouraging other parents to donate if they feel like they can. 

"Knowing that I can solve that one problem for a mom, it helps me sleep at night," said Praget.