Parents and caregivers of infants are scrambling to find baby formula during the nationwide shortage. There is a lot at play here, including supply chain issues, exacerbated by the closure of a major production plant in February and the recall of some infant formulas.
Just yesterday, Abbott Laboratories—the manufacturer behind the popular brands Similac, Alimentum, and EleCare—announced it had reached an agreement with health regulators to resume production of baby formula.
But it will likely take weeks or even months for the supply to reach normal levels. In the meantime, parents are seeking solutions to fill the gap, ranging from using milk banks (generally considered safe by experts) to concocting homemade formula from recipes circulating on the internet (doctors strongly advise against this).
Then, of course, there is the popular refrain: “Why not just breastfeed?”
For today’s show, news director Chali Pittman spends the first half unpacking the complex issues surrounding the breastfeeding debate with lactation consultant Dr. Sekeita Lewis-Johnson, who breaks down the romanticization of breastfeeding and urges practical solutions.
Then, Professor Brigitte Fielder traces the history of Black women breastfeeding, from enslaved mothers and wet nurses to parents today who need access to institutional support and reproductive justice.
Brigitte Fielder is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she researches nineteenth-century U.S. literature, early African American literature, children’s literature, and race, gender, and sexuality studies. She is the author of Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America (Duke University Press, 2020).