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.

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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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I think you're full of crap and this post belongs in the toilet. Big deal. You can always refuse. Some babies are allergic. Mine was and I was thankful for having a choice to find the one that worked for him. It would have cost me a fortune and been a huge waste. How silly can you be?

Homeb... HomebirthFTW

It shouldn't be handed out for free. If you intend to ff you should be required to bring the brand you want to use with you. A hospitals supply should be used when medically necessary and you should be billed for it. Free formula is a brand marketing campaign that does not belong in a hospital.

Betwe... BetweenCourses

Having done both formula with my first threr and breast with latest two I think it is up to the mom. Everyone wants to sat Oh stop judging and then runs out and tries to make rules based on that judging that they claim they want to get rid of. Give out the formula to those that want it and those that don't, don't have to take it.

Mrs.K... Mrs.Kubalabuku

I don't think banning free formula from hospitals is the best idea, b/c there are familes who will formula feed and who benefit greatly from it.  How about training the nurses to be supporive of BFing Moms instead?  If a Mom who said she wanted to BF calls them in stressed and asking for them to take baby, perhaps the nurse could spend a minute or two talking to the Mom to make sure that's really what she wants?

When I was in the hospital with DS2, they offered to take him ALL THE TIME, w/o me asking.  I was always smiling, nursing whenever he cried, never complaining...But the offers never stopped coming.  It might have been b/c of my emergency C section and me looking like hell, but it made me wonder.  One sentence they would praise my nursing efforts, and the very next they'd offer formula so I could rest.  It was like they just didn't understand how their attempts to be supportive were conflicting, kwim?

And when an LC finally stopped by on my last day there, I knew more about BFing than she did.  SMH.

zraunt zraunt

Please get over yourself. If you don't want it don't use it but don't deprive someone else because of your beliefs.

nonmember avatar Colleen

Not giving formula is NOT best for all moms, but thanks for the blanket statement. My daughter was born at 29 weeks and my milk never really came in. The most I could pump was 3 ounces a day, and that was on a good day. I was pumping every two hours as well and taking fenugreek and even a prescription to try to increase my milk production. So I was pretty freaking grateful to the NICU when they gave me at least a month's supply of special preemie formula so I didn't have to spend hundreds of additional dollars when I was finally able to take my baby home. If someone really wants to breastfeed, they can just turn down the formula. If I had insisted on just breastfeeding my baby wouldn't have made it because I simply wasn't producing enough. So I hope hospitals give out MORE free formula!!

nonmember avatar me

When my baby was having trouble latching and i asked an ob nurse for help, she suggested i had a coliky baby and offered me some formula 'just in case'. My baby never had colic and breastfeeding is still going strong at 6 months. i was pretty vulnerable at the time but chalked it up to her probably knowing nothing about breastfeeding and assuming formula would be the easier option.

memek... memekisses

I think this is a BS article.

nonmember avatar Darlene

Wow! This is truly horrible. Breastfeeders are sooo hateful they are actually trying to take formula from newborns mouths.


I think a ban is stupid.

I admit, after my first child, I was a BF bitch- if you didn't BF, I thought you didn't try hard enough, were lazy, etc etc- I nursed him 2.5 yrs-- weaned him at 16 wks pg w baby girl-- then I had her, took my formula home out of politeness ( I'm in the south) and after being a BF veteran, I made almost no milk. She was on a Bili-bed a week w jaundice, I pumped, I nursed and made almost nothing for 4 months. Thank the Lord for that free sample- we needed it.

I learned my lesson, any breastmilk is great, but Im thankful for formula, too.

A ban would be stupid. Those ppl determined to breastfeed will regardless of a damn free sample.

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