No More Free Formula in Hospitals Is Best for All Moms

Rant 255

baby bottle

If you have your baby in a hospital, there are many ways the scenario will play out. But one thing is almost always certain -- you will have access to free formula. Lots of it. Even if you are nursing and baby has that sticker on the little rolling crib that says "I'm a breastfed baby." Now I wasn't always sold on the idea that this is a bad thing. If a mama is formula feeding, why not be able to get a whole bunch of expensive formula courtesy of the hospital where you (or your insurance) spent a whole lot of money to have a baby there? Makes perfect sense. But then I started thinking some more.

Those formula companies who place their products in hospitals ... do they have an ulterior motive? And, most worrisome, for the mom who really wants to breastfeed, those first moments and days are very important, and if formula is there to tempt her to just let the nurses feed the baby, it can derail her breastfeeding efforts.

There is much more to it than just some free stuff.

Dozens of health and consumer organizations are sending letters to hospitals around the country demanding that they stop giving out free formula supplied to them by the formula companies. They believe it's like an endorsement for the formula and can halt a mom's breastfeeding success. I agree. Some hospitals have already ended the free formula deal and and many are calling themselves "Baby Friendly" and helping moms breastfeed. This is what we need everywhere.

Way back when my mother had me, people actually believed that formula was better for baby than breastmilk. We all know that isn't true unless of course mom is hooked on drugs and baby shouldn't be anywhere near her breastmilk. But this was was preached to consumers by formula companies and the medical community who just weren't up to speed with their research.

More from The Stir: Arsenic Found in Organic Baby Formula: Is It Your Brand?

I'm sorry but the natural milk you produce to feed your baby just isn't as good as this artificial stuff we put together in a factory. Wow. Could you imagine if someone told you that today? Mama knows best -- and mama makes the best milk. We know this now. This is fact.

New moms are also more vulnerable when in a hospital setting. At least I think so. Just going through labor or a frightening delivery by c-section, you are healing and learning your way through those first moments of motherhood. You have all these nurses around you, food delivered, fresh water given just by ringing a bell. And if you are tired (which you most likely will be) and the temptation of formula is right there to feed baby instead of your breast, you may take it. It's like giving a crying child what she wants even if she shouldn't have it. And yes, it's easier to go that route, but once you get home, there is no more bell to ring for water. No more meals delivered, no nurse to mix up formula and feed your baby for you. If you started in the hospital as a mom who wanted to breastfeed but used the formula because it was easier, the reality sets in when you get home and there are piles of bottles with all of their parts to wash.

Breastfeeding isn't easy. But it is worth it for so many reasons. And ease of use is one of them. When you are really tired once you are home and baby wants to eat, breastfeeding is easier than making a bottle of formula. We don't have to get into the benefits for baby's health and mama's health because we all know them by now, but let's just say it surpasses what you can get in a bottle any day.

This isn't about bashing formula. Because I think it's fantastic and I both breastfed and formula fed my twins. This is about giving a mom who wants to breastfeed the best shot at succeeding. This is about helping her most in the beginning when she needs that support the most. This is about what's best for mom and baby. Because we all deserve the best -- or at least the best shot at trying.

What do you think of an all-out ban of free formula in hospitals?


Image via nerissa's ring/Flickr

breastfeeding, natural parenting


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PonyC... PonyChaser

Let's see... I was exhausted, sore from a c-section (so I couldn't move easily), frightened because my little guy wouldn't feed right away, and STILL I managed to work with the nurses and get him to latch on and eat. And he breastfed exclusively until we weaned. Even after the Formula Harem came and did a pole-dance in my room and offered to shove free samples into every available pocket of my bags, while an evil nurse, obviously paid extra by the formula companies, sat on me, gagged me, and tied my hands behind my back so I couldn't refuse their nasty packaged poison-bombs.

Good lord, people... why do we have to micro-manage and control every second of other people's lives? If they want to feed their babies formula... LET THEM. I guarantee, in a year, you're not going to be able to tell if that child had formula or breastmilk. It's the parent's business, nobody else's. Formula is NOT poison, and breastmilk is not some magical elixer capable of curing every disease known to man. It's food. What happened to "My Choice"? Or does that only apply to killing a baby?

Telep... Telephus44

When I had my first, I believed that even keeping a can of formula in the house would lead me down the path of the devil, so I donated every single can that came in to the food bank.  Let me tell you, when the time came that I couldn't produce enough after trying increased fluids, special teas, supplements, nursing every 45 minutes around the clock for the 3 days straight and no sleep for either myself or my baby - then wow, I would have been happy to have a small can in my cabinet rather than packing up a screaming baby at 11pm at night to go to the grocery store and make a very hasty and not researched decision!

Seriously - I want to support breastfeeding.  My hospital has 2 goodies bags - one for formula feeding moms, one for breastfeeding moms.  Isn't that good enough?  Maybe they should stop handing out diaper samples to support women who want to cloth diaper.  Maybe they should stop offering any pain medication to support moms who want to go natural.  It's ridiculous.  Just because it's offered doesn't mean it's being forced on you.

nonmember avatar kaerae

You don't have to use it or take it. I loved having it accessible in those first few days even though I mainly nursed. I also really liked the little diaper bags the formula companies gave away. I used one to carry my breastpump when I went back to work! Keep your sanctimommy nose out of my life! Say no if you don't want it, but don't decide for everyone else!

Rhodin Rhodin

I just gave birth 2 weeks ago and my free bag of loot had baby books instead of formula, all of which were claimed by my 2 year old, even the high contrast one that's specifically for newborns. Most companies that make formula also make things like nursing pads, milk storage bags, and even snacks for mom. They could get us hooked on those instead.

nonmember avatar bmarleysmom84

im not going to lie... when my daughter was born my husband and i were so unprepared. we thought we would wait til she was born to see what we woukd do. (bottle or breast). 2 weeks before he was laid off... i had my daughter and what do you know.... i pumped only 1 oz a day! she couldnt live off that! thank god for the forumla we were provided from the hospital! one nurse even snuck us a little extra! we recieced wic and my husband got a new job shortly after... but we would have been shit out of luck! some women just cant. this should always be the mothers choice.... and with the amount of $ it costs to have a baby the least they can do is provide kotex and formula.

Roxan... Roxanne71

I agree with Telephus44, a goodie bag for FF moms and a goodie bag for BF moms.  The nurse should just ask what the mom prefers and that's that.  No pressure, just free choice.  Of course, most lactivists seem to think that the presence of formula in a hospital is pressure enough...even when it's not even offered to the mother. 

And keep in mind, some women don't even have a choice on that matter to begin with.  I know a mom that had a double mastectomy before the birth of her last two children.  I think it would be a slap in the face to tell her that she couldn't have a free formula sample in an effort to promote BF'ing. 

Nicho... NicholasMama608

As a low income mother that didn't have a job because I got fired when I was put on bed rest while pregnant, was on Food stamps, Cash assistance and WIC I was grateful for the free formula I received.  If you don't want it don't use it, don't take it home.  But why should something that helps some moms be taken away just because other moms don't like it?

Jadem... Jademom07

I was a breastfeeding mom with my last child.  While I was snoozing, the nurses were filling my infant up with formula.  if they weren't given the free samples, do you still think that my nursing start would have been easier...I do since I was fighting a nursing staff that wanted the EASY way out of a crying infant instead of getting me (she was in the nicu and could nurse just fine) and I was also fighting an infant that knew bottles were easier to get it out of.

Now tell me that it's a good idea.  I could fight until blue in the face but when your back is turned, you cannot always trust the nurses to follow your directions.  Especially since they were giving a FAST flow nipple to an infant that was having O2 problems and everytime they gave that bottle, she would stop aspirate and they said it was because she needed to be there longer...not admitting that they were causing the problem.

You want free formula, get it in the mail not the hospital.  After all, you are there to deliver not get free stuff anyway.

Maevelyn Maevelyn

I think it's more shameful bc formula should be medical decision based on research of what brand is best not what brang give free swag at the hospital. 

nonmember avatar Cindy Curley

This is silly. Let's take away from those that don't choose to or can't breastfeed to ONLY support those that do. Make your own decision on the matter and have the gumption to stick with it even when the going gets tough but don't punish those that make the unpopular decision. They are already chastized enough by not doing what society at large wants them to.

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