The news that a widespread baby formula outage is threatening the health of millions of American babies should be a shock.
Two years into a pandemic, a ‘dramatic’ shortage in baby formula has left fragile infants and their families scrambling, as a result of supply chain shortages, formula recalls and high inflation. Those families who rely on speciality formulas are particularly at risk, with the literal lives of children at stake.
But is it really shocking that our society puts the needs of babies, women and families last?
Motherly’s 2021 State of Motherhood study revealed that 92% of mothers feel society doesn’t do a good job of understanding or supporting motherhood.
And if mothers can’t thrive, babies and families can’t thrive.
Mothers are asked to nurture in a society that doesn’t nurture us back, caring for their families to the brink of burnout.
Mothers are doing it all in a pandemic, serving as what The New York Times rightly called society’s ‘shock absorbers’.
Mothers go to work. They’re the primary breadwinners in 47% of households.
Mothers are still doing the majority of household tasks, even when they also out-earn their male partners.
Moms are still stuck managing virtual school when Covid breaks out in their kids’ classrooms.
And they’re doing it all without affordable childcare.
Without paid maternity leave.
And, now mothers don’t have access to formula to do the most critical work of all: Feed their babies and keep them healthy and alive.
Outrageously, as a “solution” to the formula crisis, moms are told to restart lactation as a way to solve this problem. Or to search high and low, day and night for formula. To drive to more stores around town. To post more in Facebook groups to find a friend somewhere, somehow, who can possibly help.
A lone mom cannot solve a supply chain that does not prioritize the wellbeing of mothers and families. One woman cannot do the work of an entire village. That’s why asking moms to do more can no longer be the answer to society’s many failings.
We need a rigorous network of support around mothers, babies and families. We need government programs that prioritize mothers and hunt down problems to solve for families. We need employers who understand the reality of working parenthood and want their employees to thrive. We need a culture that says not just ‘you’ve got this,’ but also “we’ve got you.”
The problem is not that mothers aren’t doing enough.
The problem is that society doesn’t have mothers’, babies’ and families’ backs.