It has been five months since the formula shortage was addressed in the U.S. Maker of popular baby formulas, Abbott laboratories, closed a manufacturing facility in Sturgis, Michigan, in February 2022 due to contamination problems. This contamination contributed to the death of 2 infants and many sick children. Since then, mothers of newborns have hit the stores desperate to find even a box of formula while holding their crying and starving babies in their arms. In addition, many parents drive 4-6 hours to different states looking for baby milk. One mother drove from Austin to Dallas, searching stores with her baby in the backseat.
While others are lucky to have excessive breast milk, some are not. As a result, mothers give their babies donated breast milk as a last resort. A friend of mine in NJ had her sister, who has a five-month baby of her own, breastfeed her newborn. She said she tried everything from lactating drinks to pumping more. Unfortunately, the newborn refused to take her milk.
However, as formula shipments come in from Europe, there is no solution for parents who have to give their babies specialized formula due to specific health issues. A mother wrote on ‘what to expect’ that her baby, due to severe allergy uses a unique formula that is nowhere to be found in stores, and now her baby is admitted to NICU.
As someone who is going to deliver soon, this situation makes me furious. How could the government be so unprepared for something like this?. Even though the Biden administration has stated that the formula will be in stock by July, nothing is guaranteed. In places where the formula is available, parents buy them in bulks—leaving less for others.
Mothers to be, what are you doing to prepare for the shortage?
Many changes occur in a women’s body during pregnancy. After delivery, women go out of their way to get their bodies the way they used to. From postpartum diet to daily exercise. Many even go to extreme levels like surgery. But we fail to realize that some things might not ever be the same. For example, your stretch marks might take years to go away. The days you stayed out late to party with your friends will be missed. You might wonder how your life went from mixing drinks to making a bottle for your newborn every few hours. That postpartum back pain may continue until a decade. YEP, A DECADE!. Your daily schedule has now changed for someone else. And it’s going to stay like that for some time.
You might scroll through your old prepregnancy photos and want to cry. And it is entirely alright to shed a tear. Our body has done so much. Science says a human body can bear up to 45 dels (units) of pain, yet a mother feels 57 dels (units) of pain when giving birth. Even after the baby is born, we are exhausted and sleep-deprived, slowing down our recovery process. Becoming a problem that now starts affecting our mental state.
LET’S TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION
One in seven women suffers from PPD (postpartum depression). Symptoms can appear anytime during pregnancy to the first 12 months after childbirth. Suicide accounts for about 20% of postpartum death and is the second leading cause of mortality in postpartum women. Black and Hispanic women are more likely to get PPD and less likely to get treatment. Did you know that there are 7 types of mood disorders that a woman can experience from pregnancy to postpartum?. So a mother can suffer in silence with a disorder and won’t even know she has it.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. I myself have met with a counselor while being pregnant. Even if you don’t suffer from PPD there is a positive feeling you get just by sharing your thoughts with others.
Pregnancy and motherhood are not a picnic. And it is unfortunate that many don’t give attention to it. There will be struggles that mothers need to overcome. For working and single mothers, it may be more challenging than others. Speak to your gynecologist and contact online support groups for assistance. Don’t feel guilty to take time out for yourself to love yourself so you can make a healthy and positive environment for you and your baby.
I reiterated, walking back and forth in the bathroom holding the pregnancy test. I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the age of twelve. I felt it wasn’t as severe as people said it was and handled it like a joke in my seventeen years of fighting. I started using the insulin pump a year after I was diagnosed. Yet, even with the best device, My A1C was above 9.0 for many years. After getting married and moving to Dallas from NYC a year later, I made an appointment with my new endocrinologist.
“There is no way you can even think about having a baby right now.” She said. My glucose was running too high, which would lead to congenital disabilities in my child if I got pregnant. So I started watching videos of diabetic-to-be mothers and reading about diabetes and pregnancy. Watching what I eat, how much, and exercising daily—finally bringing my A1c down to a 5.8 in a year. It wasn’t an easy ride, but I had a supportive husband and family. Excited, I booked my first family planning appointment with a gynecologist. I waited alone patiently in the room, listing down all the questions I wanted to ask in my head. Soon as she walked in, she handed me a paper. A paper with “diabetes and risk” listed on top. With all the different types of birth defects listed on the bottom. I told her my glucose had been well in control, but she remarked that I was still at high risk. She talked about how my baby would be ‘big’ or have ‘spinal Bifida’. Everything she said made me not want to have a child. I left the clinic heartbroken.
I arrived home crying to my husband, telling him what had happened handing him the paper the doctor had given me. He thought what my gynecologist had said was absurd and suggested going to another doctor. I joined online groups and downloaded the what to except app to get my questions answered. I was relieved to know many expecting type 1 diabetic mother were trying their best to help me understand. One mom told me that it wouldn’t be an uncomplicated pregnancy, but it is worth a shot.
Many women with diabetes are still fearful of getting pregnant, even with well-controlled diabetes. Some think they cannot get pregnant unaware that diabetes does not affect fertility. If you visit gynecologists today, some don’t understand that having prediabetes and controlling it throughout pregnancy is different than gestational diabetes. In gestation diabetes, a woman finds out her pancreas is not making enough Insulin after hitting the second trimester and she struggles to control her glucose. Many women diagnosed with gestational diabetes don’t even take insulin and can control it with carb counting. After having the baby gestational diabetes is cured unfortunately that is not the same case for women who are prediabetic or type 2.
In contrast, type one diabetics work with their endocrinologist every few months to stabilize their glucose levels. Many of us type ones have been diagnosed since we were children. We are keeping track of our sugar with CGM and insulin pumps daily. Many because of how expensive diabetic supplies are still use needles and insulin pens to control the highs and the lows. That being said, with the proper treatment, women with diabetes can have a healthy baby just like a woman without.
I peeked at my pregnancy test in disbelief…Two lines it is.