BROOMFIELD, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado mother who is still nursing her daughter is offering a different solution to help families struggling to feed their babies during the formula shortage.
“Watching the shortage, it’s really sad because some parents really don’t have an option. They don’t have the ability to breastfeed,” Shelby English said.
English said her success at breastfeeding has inspired her to help families that rely on formula, like people who have adopted, single dads, two-father families and people who are unable to produce enough milk naturally.
“I am offering to breastfeed other children if other families are open to that option, if they really are desperate and need some sort of nutrition for their little babes,” English said.
She calls it “cross-feeding.”
“I’ve honestly always been open to the idea of cross-feeding other babies. It’s not weird to me at all,” English said.
Is it safe to cross-feed your baby?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it “recommends against feeding your baby breast milk acquired directly from individuals or through the Internet,” warning there are safety risks including exposure to infections and diseases.
Breast milk banks screen donors and pasteurize donor milk before distributing it to hospitals and families.
“I wouldn’t offer my assistance if I was ever imposing a bigger risk than a hungry baby,” English said.
According to English, she is unable to pump and bag her milk to donate the traditional way. However, she said she is still producing plenty of milk that can feed a baby through nursing.
“I would like to be of service to my community. I have the time and the energy and the ability to do so,” English said.
After posting her offer for a straight-from-the-source supply on a local Facebook group for moms, she said she has not had any takers but has had a “pretty positive” response to the idea.
“It’s nice to see other moms consider the idea of helping each other out in ways that people normally wouldn’t if there wasn’t a formula shortage,” English said.
She said even if she does not end up providing breast milk for another child, she hopes her willingness to do so helps advance the conversation surrounding breastfeeding and breast milk.
“I think some people would be a little bit weirded out about their baby being latched to another woman’s body, but I feel like with the formula shortage, if people actually are desperate to feed their babies it’s not going to be as taboo,” she said.