When I first took child development courses, I learned how miraculous breastmilk is for infants. What an incredible work of nature that newborn babies can receive nutrients tailored to their specific needs and be given essential antibodies at a time of great vulnerability to germs. As I prepared to teach my first college-level development course, I wanted to emphasize the many benefits of breastfeeding.

The World Health Organization recommends infants rely exclusively on breastmilk for the first six months of life: “Breastfed children perform better on intelligence tests, are less likely to be overweight or obese and less prone to diabetes later in life. Women who breastfeed also have a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancers.”

As the time to teach my child development course drew near, I birthed my first child. I had read about breastfeeding, taken a course offered through the hospital about breastfeeding, and sought advice from other parents on how to nurse successfully. It was time for me to practice what I was preparing to preach.

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Unfortunately, the first week with our newborn did not go as my husband and I had planned. My little girl would arch her back and scream each time I attempted to breastfeed. The lactation consultant we sought was baffled. At three days old, I struggled from midnight to 6 a.m. to get my daughter the nutrients she so badly needed. I was delirious from sleep deprivation and the stress of trying to do everything perfectly. With incredible brain fog, I delayed giving my infant a bottle so she wouldn’t get what the lactation course deemed “nipple confusion.”

Fortunately in a moment of clarity, I gave my daughter her first bottle which she readily drank. At her next doctor visit, the pediatrician noted she had lost a concerning amount of weight in the first week of life.

I was overwhelmed with shame. How could I have let this happen? How could I have failed at the most basic and natural part of motherhood? How could I have put off feeding my baby for so long in the name of doing it “the right way?”

The development course I taught ended up being a lot more nuanced than I had anticipated. I now had more compassion for mothers who choose to use formula rather than breastmilk. I learned there are numerous reasons families select one method over another.

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Some premature babies need particular nutritional support provided by formula. Some infants with abnormalities, such as a cleft palate, are unable to breastfeed and require using a specialty bottle. The current formula shortage has put the most vulnerable children at risk. Before formula was widely available, many infants simply starved to death. Low-income families may not have the hours to search for formula, and diluting it can have dire consequences.

Formula companies have been criticized for misleading marketing in developing countries, preying on vulnerable populations that lack clean water and education. They absolutely need to be held accountable for any actions that put profit over the well-being of mothers and infants. But we can hold them accountable and encourage breastfeeding while simultaneously acknowledging the vital role formula plays for many families.

I’m incredibly disappointed that not a single Utah representative voted to support HR7790 in the House, a bill aimed at addressing the nationwide baby formula shortage. Specifically, the bill would provide funds for the Food and Drug Administration to address the current shortage and prevent future shortages, including taking steps to prevent counterfeit products from entering the U.S. market. Republicans argued that providing money to the FDA is unnecessary, claiming that it would do little to solve the root of the problem. However, importing more formula from other countries still requires that each product be approved by the FDA. I fear the real reason behind their lack of support is that the author of the bill is a Democrat.

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I’m tired of my representatives showing disdain for those in the opposite party rather than concern for their constituents. I call our current Utah senators to take the baby formula shortage seriously and vote for HR7790, and I’m looking forward to supporting U.S. Sen. candidate Becky Edwards in the Republican primary because she strives to build bridges on common values, instead of dividing “us” and “them” by arbitrary party lines.

Veronika Tait received her doctorate from Brigham Young University in social psychology. She currently works at Snow College as an assistant professor of psychology.