Bette Midler is getting heat for telling people to try breastfeeding, a comment that many people view as insensitive to parents struggling to feed their babies due to the nationwide formula shortage.
MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle said on Thursday that the system is an amazing secret oligopoly. Three percent of American companies control over 90 percent of the market, and restrictive regulations backed by lobbying prohibit the sale of foreign formulas, she said.
Ruhle said there was another industry sector product like this.
Midler responded. The formula shortage, which began in 2020, has worsened in recent weeks because of labor shortages and product recalls. Retail analysis firm Datasembly reported that 43 percent of formulas were out of stock last week. Abbot Nutrition, the company behind the recall, said the delay could last eight to 10 weeks.
Breastfeeding and breast milk aren't options for many new parents.
Bette, a Twitter user, said it was a heartless and horrible thing to say to women who are unable to breastfeed. It's more common than you realize when you delete this. Ilyse Hogue, author and former NARAL Pro-Choice America president, said she didn't produce enough milk to feed her twins.
She said without formula, she would have chosen which one to eat. The children that are separated from the birth mothers are not very young. Another Twitter user said she fought to breastfeed her son, but eventually switched to formula because of the stress it caused both her and her child.
One Twitter user said that prior to the widespread availability of powdered baby formula, predominantly Black wet nurses fed other people's babies at the cost of their own children.
Breast milk meant for Black and Brown kids from their mothers was never available for breast feeding, according to Twitter user KT 8812, who said that breast milk had never been free and available.
Experts say that breastfeeding won't solve the formula shortage. In a recent essay, Dr. Rebekah Diamond wrote that most infants need to be fed formula to supplement their nutrition. New parents can't provide enough milk for their babies due to health factors and limited opportunity to pump milk during the work day.
As a society, we can promote breastfeeding as a way to support infant health without taking a simplistic and dangerous black- and white stance, Diamond wrote.
Midler responded to the backlash to her tweet Thursday evening.
The people are piling on because of the former tweet. She said that if you can't breastfeed, but if you can't convince yourself that your own milk isn't as good as a'scientifically researched product', that's something else.
A Twitter user said that nearly every one is a testimony about why breastfeeding didn't work for them and not a single one I've read says the reason was because they didn't think their milk was good enough. Many of our babies were saved by formula.