RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A U.S. Air Force cargo plane carrying 39 tons of baby formula landed in Indianapolis from Switzerland over the weekend as a result of a nationwide shortage of specific kinds of formula.

Another plane from Germany is expected to land in Pennsylvania at a later point.

As a result of the shortage, more lactating mothers are looking for ways to help fill the milk gap.

Part of the shortage is due to a recall of Abbott Nutrition formula in February due to safety issues. Abbott is the nation’s largest formula manufacturing plant.

Since then, WakeMed Hospital reported they have seen an increase in demand for donor milk in the NICU setting.

WakeMed said they “remain committed to supplying lifesaving donor milk to these medically fragile infants.”

A spokesperson for WakeMed tells CBS 17, “it is important to clarify that donor milk is not intended to be a long-term replacement for formula in the outpatient population.”

For the hospital system, the top priority is using their donated milk to infants in hospital NICUs across the state and all along the east coast.

In addition, parents of babies with specific dietary needs may find donor’s milk is not an adequate alternative to specialized formula.

The hospital system can make breast milk available to non-NICU babies by prescription in some cases.

However, outpatient donor milk is not covered by Medicaid or private insurance so breast milk may not a viable alternative for some families having a hard time finding formula.

While WakeMed has more interested potential donors, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America said they have seen a 20 percent increase in inquiries for donor milk. Interest in obtaining milk has risen since the beginning of the shortage, the organization said.

The non-profit said this increased interest comes after a record year for milk distribution in 2021. Almost 9 million ounces of milk were donated by 13,000 mothers nationwide. HMBANA works with 31 milk banks, including WakeMed, to help mothers donate their extra breast milk.