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JCSU Lactation Expert TaHysha McClain Shares Lactation Tips During National Formula Shortage

Photo Credit: JCSU
TaHysha McClain
Photo Credit: JCSU
 CHARLOTTE, N.C. / July 18, 2022 – In June, reports indicated that one in five states were nearly out of baby formula. The 2022 national formula shortage has impacted thousands of households, leaving many mothers with the complicated task of finding ways to feed their babies. 

“Most parents don’t consider feeding options until after their child is born,” said JCSU Lactation Consultant Training Program (LCTP) Director TaHysha McClain. “Whether a family chooses to formula feed or breastfeed, it’s their personal decision. We as a lactation consultant support them and give them information to make an informed decision on their feeding options.” 

While many mothers choose to formula feed due to unavoidable complications or personal choice, others may have turned to formula because they didn’t receive proper guidance on breastfeeding techniques. 

McClain said five tips could help mothers who would traditionally turn to formula. Her tips can also be useful for those who were planning to formula feed, but now are considering different options in light of the shortage. 

First, McClain suggests that moms try to breastfeed within the first hour of delivery. 

“Moms do have breast milk once their babies are born,” she said. “It’s called colostrum. Colostrum is referred to as liquid gold because of the color, because it is rich in nutrients and it contains antibodies that protect our precious babies. Try to have baby feed and latch within the first hour after birth.” 

McClain also said that practicing skin-to-skin bonding benefits both the mom and the baby. Not only does it help the baby regulate its heart, blood sugar and breathing, it can also help moms recognize early hunger cues. 

Additionally, bonding with skin-to-skin can help both the baby and the mother become more comfortable with breast feeding. 

“Breastfeed on demand,” said McClain. “Watch for baby hunger cues like sticking the tongue out, bringing the hand toward the mouth or a bobbing head searching for the breast. Don’t wait for the baby to start crying, which is a late cue.” 

McClain also suggests that mothers limit the use of pacifiers and pumps for the first two to three weeks unless medically recommended, as it can help mothers focus on breastfeeding. 

Lastly, McClain says that mothers shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help. 

“Breastfeeding should not be painful, so if you are experiencing any pain, contact a professional for help,” she said. “Your lactation consultant can assist you with any questions or concerns you have about breastfeeding.” 

McClain mentioned that some mothers in communities of color may be wary to seek treatment due to a lack of representation in the field, something her program at Johnson C. Smith University is working to address. 

She hopes more representation will lead to increased rates of Black women who breastfeed. 

“Research has shown that people respond better when they are able to visit providers who look and talk like them,” said McClain. “Representation in the lactation field could build trust within the medical community among people of color. This could have a trickle-down affect by improving the overall health outcomes of Black people. This could decrease obesity rates, diabetes, heart disease and maternal disparities, all of which plague the Black community.” 

JCSU’s lactation program has educated two cohorts of lactation professionals with a total of 11 students, and 10 of them have reported they have passed their boards and have become Certified Lactation Consultants. 

McClain has hopes that the JCSU lactation program can be a step in the direction of equal representation in the field. 

“Several barriers have been identified as to why there may not be many lactation consultants of color, one of which is cost,” she said. “Our program is always interested in welcoming sponsors and donors so we can keep cost as low as possible for our students.” 

For more information, or to learn how you can donate to the LCTP at JCSU, visit www.JCSU.edu/academics/lactation-program.

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