'TRY BREASTFEEDING': Bette Midler slammed for 'heartless' tweet amid baby formula shortage

Midler had tweeted that breast milk was 'free and available on demand' unlike baby formula

                            'TRY BREASTFEEDING': Bette Midler slammed for 'heartless' tweet amid baby formula shortage
Bette Midler asks moms to 'TRY BREASTFEEDING' in a tweet amid the crippling breast formula shortage (Desiree Navarro/Getty Images, Twitter screenshot/@BetteMidler)

During the devastating baby formula scarcity, Bette Midler advised mothers to just "TRY BREASTFEEDING," and was heavily chastised for the "obtuse" and dumb statement on Friday, 13 May.

Stephanie Ruhle, an MSNBC anchor, tweeted about the scarcity on Thursday, 12 May calling it an "amazing secret oligopoly." She claimed that three percent of American corporations dominate 90% of the market and that tight laws, encouraged by lobbying, prevent the sale of foreign formulae. "Name another industry/sector/product like this," Ruhle said. To which Bette Midler responded, "TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It's free and available on demand." However, her remark did not take into account that new mothers sometimes do not produce enough milk to feed their newborns and must rely on formula. Others experience latching issues with their children, or are parenting an adopted child, or must use baby formula to balance employment requirements with having to nurse.


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The formula shortage, which began in 2020, has risen drastically in recent weeks due to staffing restrictions and product recalls. According to retail analytics firm Datasembly, 43 percent of formulas were out of stock last week. According to Abbot Nutrition, the company behind the recall, it might last eight to 10 weeks. Breastfeeding or using breast milk will be impossible for many new mothers.

Ilyse Hogue, author and former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said that she didn't make enough milk to appropriately nourish her twins. She said, "Bette, respectfully, this is a very bad take. I had twins. I didn’t produce enough milk for both. Without formula, I would have had to have chosen which one got to eat. To say nothing of kids that get separated from the birth mothers very young."


"Pretty heartless and horrible thing to say to women who are unable to breastfeed, Bette," one Twitter user replied. "It's far more common than you realize ... delete this."


Another Twitter user stated that she "fought" to breastfeed her kid but eventually gave up due to the stress it caused her and her child. She wrote, "I love you Bette, but this is not okay. I fought to breastfeed my son, he kept losing weight, despite my best efforts, including lactation experts. It was emotional and I felt like a failure and at 3 months switched to formula, because of the stress it put on me and my son."


Before powdered infant formula became readily accessible, mostly Black "wet nurses" nursed other people's kids at the cost of their own children, a user argued. "Breast feeding has NEVER been free and available ... Y'all took breast milk meant for Black and Brown kids from their mothers," a Twitter user said.


At the age of 41, Midler gave birth to her daughter, Sophie Von Haselberg, in 1986. Breastfeeding, according to experts, will not fix the formula crisis. While many newborns can be sufficiently nourished by their mothers, Dr. Rebekah Diamond recently stated in an editorial on NBC news that most infants will require formula to boost their nutrition. Health issues, a lack of time to pump milk during the workday, and allergies may all make it difficult for new parents to provide enough milk for their newborns.

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