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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nonmember avatar honestlymummy

I was physically unable to produce enough milk due to medical reasons. With each child I tried everything I could to get my milk supply up, all the while knowing it was physically impossible. It was very hard for me to admit after each child was born that I was incapable of producing milk for my children. The nurses were amazing, they did everything possible to help me try to breastfeed as much as I could, they also gently helped me come to terms with the fact that I would have to supplement. I never felt like formula was being "pushed" on me. I was so very thankful for the formula they gave us, along with the diapers, to take home because it meant my husband didn't have to rush out and get us stocked up. We were able to get a lot of quality time with our children. Please don't judge each other whether you’re a mother who bottle feeds or who breastfeeds. We all just want what is best for our babies and we are all giving our best effort! If you don’t want the formula, just don’t take it.

sikafox sikafox

My son was born with breastfeeding jaundice. Most babies are born with jaundice and breastfeeding is supposed to help it clear up faster but in my sons case it didn't. In addition to that he was losing weight fast thanks to the hospital where he was born and the free formula he started getting better. I was told yes told to still breastfeed but after doing so to give him an ounce of formula every hour and it worked. My younger sister planned on giving her son up for adoption so the free formula helped my nephew alot and now that he lives with his dad he is a formula fed baby and doing great.

Just be firm with hospitals that you don't want the formula and some childrens second hand stores will take unopen cans of formula and sell it cheap to people who really need it. 

irishk85 irishk85

My son was 3 months premature and could not breast feed right away so I pumped after 6 weeks of pumping I was dry herbal remedies, prescriptions and extra pumping didn't bring it back I am grateful for the hundreds of dollars I didn't have to pay for formula while he spent his first few months in hospital. Breast feeding is a personal choice and yes its bennificial but if someone decides to breast feed and goes to formula that's their decision. Why should others why are in my situation pay?

nonmember avatar KLJ

I do not judge those who breastfeed, nor would I ever. On the other hand, however, I do not appreciate those who judge formula Moms. There are many good reasons that someone might formula feed,and most of those have nothing to do with being selfish or caring any less for their babies. I gave breastfeeding a chance, and it did not work for me for a number of reasons. Between the drugs I had in my system from my cesarean; the fact that I didn't even have any milk to give my hungry screaming child for nearly a week; and the milk-sensitivity that runs in my family, making the difficult decision to use hospital formula (and not allow myself to feel guilty) saved my sanity. By the way, my daughter is six months old and THRIVING--I have no regrets.

nonmember avatar Toni

Here in new Zealand it's illegal for formula companies to direct market to parents who have babies under 12 months old. The state runs a very proactive breatfeedi g campaign and formula feeding is seen akin to smoking in a restaurant - you just don't

Sheri' Adams

Stopping free formula is stupid. I am 100% breastfeeding, a total advocate for it, and if youre determined enough to do it-as I was and am-formula will not deter you. I was completely exhausted after both my boys were born; never for a heartbeat was I tempted to use the formula nudged at me repeatedly by the hospital, and in fact had I discovered either of my babies had been given formula I would have thrown a fit. That said, I do believe that the nurses should be told to OFFER the samples, certainly not to push them, and any contest for the nurse who gives out the most as I saw someone above post? What crap. I see nothing wrong with offering free samples of formula because if you choose to formula feed, that's your choice and while I may not agree with it, it's not my place to agree or disagree. Getting free samples is a good way to help new moms make a choice as to which formula they want to use without having to waste money on one that may or may not work.
To each their own; if you want to breastfeed, youre going to breastfeed and if someone offering you a bottle makes you just give in immediately because youre tired then I guess you didnt want to do it that badly.

Saras... Sarasahmof3

When I had my babies, I was given a choice, the breastfeeding bag or the formula bag, the breastfeeding bag had a hand pump and 4 little bottles that fit the breast pump, and coupons for breast pads, and other breast feeding supplies, and the formula bag had 2 cans of formula and bottles and coupons for feeding a baby formula, I don't know how I lucked out but I got both each time, with the first maybe because he was a NICU baby and the second time because I had twins, who knows. Formula can be a God sent gift even for those who are breastfeeding, it is the safely net.  I did not use the formula until much later when I became very ill and my milk dried up.  Let them give what they want, and let Moms decide what they want, and stop the "Brow beating" and all the "Hate" and the bashing and the "I am better than you" talk.  Until you walk a mile in my shoes you have no right to dictate to me what to do or how I should do it and I will not tell you what to do either.

Felicia Montanaro

What bothers me is that if breastfeeding Moms are SO set on breastfeeding they don't HAVE to give in a take a bottle that the nurse offers. Mothers that decide to bottle-feed for whatever reason (mine was a personal choice) are pressured, badgered and sometimes brought to tears by people demanding they breastfeed and we don't give in. We're tired, exhausted and sore too, but we don't give in. If a Mother is set, happy, and comfortable in her decision a free bottle isn't going to sway her. So instead of breastfeeding mothers feeling pressured by free formula this should also be viewed in the light that by this big push to take away free formula it pushes bottle-feeding Mothers into a corner. This is just as bad as the push over birth control. Everyone needs to stay out of a woman's uterus, birth control practices and breasts. Let us make our own decisions.

demon... demonicaangel

if you want to breast spacific about no formula for baby and give the samples to a friend or pantry. some of us cant bf and i got no samples for my youngest. i have to pay the 27 bucks a can since his birth. luckily the first formula i chose works for him. where my other 2 i had a little time to adjust before having to run out to the store. crucify me if you want but i think the bf moms are being too harsh on us bottle feeders. there are many reasons for not and we should be able to have an opportunity to find what works best for our babies, without spending hundreds of dollars.

Amanda Gonzales

I agree with this because dispite the fact that I REPEATEDLY told the nurses caring for my son after her was born that he was EXCUSIVELY BREASTFED and was pumping 6 oz at a time they decided to give him formula everytime he was away from me for more than 2 minutes dispite the fact there were bottles of fresh breastmilk in their freezer. Having tons of free stuff for them to use makes it easier for them to disregard some moms wishes so they dont have to walk down to hall

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