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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Lesley Rae King

Here's the compromise: (I didn't read all 51 comments, so if I am repeating someone else, sorry!) Let the hospitals provide formula samples for people who want them. If a mother says NO THANKS, don't shove it down her throat! And if a mother turns down the formula samples, why not give her actual breastfeeding supplies? You know what I got in my breastfeeding sample bag? FORMULA! You know what I wanted, what I could have actually used? Lanolin. Gel soothers. Breast pads. And coupons for the same. Not FORMULA in a BREASTFEEDING sample bag!


Sirena Robinson

I tend to think mothers who just opt out are selfish. But I also believe that there are myriad reasons that moms can't breastfeed, and that's where formula came in. I had a premature baby, with jaundice and an underdeveloped latch. We tried for six weeks to work on her latch, and she never got it. Luckily, I respond well to the pump, and I'm getting enough for her at 6 months. However, there were a few days waiting for my milk to come in, pumping every 2 hours, for 45 minutes a shot, that I was thanking God for those bottles the hospital gave me. I think all women who can should breastfeed, but that doesn't mean you won't need help. I did. Call me a sanctimommy if you want, but that's how I feel. But a ban on free formula? That's just silly. Even breastfeeding moms might need it from time to time.

Momma... Momma2blessed

How many times is this same topic going to be posted here? Recycle much?!?

Bre L-Parks Taylor

I'm sorry to anyone who doesn't think this happens but the nurses will cup feed your baby formula whether they have that breastfed sticker on their little bed or not.

They did it to my son. They took him for his circumsition and didn't bring him back for six hours even though I told them over and over he needed to eat and I wanted him back. Finally I went into the nursery to get him. He was pushed behind all the other babies and sitting in his own spit up with a pacifier (with a huge NO PACIFIER sign right by his head, which a nurse grabbed while I watched so that I wouldn't make a big deal about it.) They were VERY lucky that I was tired from temporary insomnia and all they got was a stern 'I said I wanted him with me AT ALL TIMES.' As I wheeled my son out. I don't think they were expecting that from a young mom. 

They basically assumed I would give up breastfeeding and gave him formula anyway, which really made me angry.

HaiDanni HaiDanni

i agree with all the moms who mentioned we can donate the little bottles. I did when i had my daughter. I have had to, on occasion, utilize the foodbank and they are instantly who i thought of. I kept 1 "emergency" bottle, and when she hit the 3 week always hungry i tried giving it to her. Little genius let it all dribble out, and gave me a dirty look on top of it.

with my son, who was earlyy and didnt take to breastfeeding, they were a godsend, especially for every unplanned nicu trip.

TMK919 TMK919

I think it should be offered, but not sent home with each mother. I wish LC were covered by insurance also. I failed my 1st attempt at BFing because I was uninformed and hey, the hospital gave us formula, so it's gotta be good, right?! When DH & I go for #2 I will be much better informed and refuse the formula.

Elise48 Elise48

 Let the hospitals provide formula samples for people who want them. If a mother says NO THANKS, don't shove it down her throat! And if a mother turns down the formula samples, why not give her actual breastfeeding supplies?

This exactly. The title of this article should be "No More Free Formula in Hospitals is Best for BREASTFEEDING Mothers" because it sure as hell isn't best for formula feeding moms.

sueann62 sueann62

i think its fine to give out formula it really helped me when i had my kids and i wasnt breast feeding!


nonmember avatar Em

Formula is still AVAILABLE in the hospital, should a new mother choose. The ban is on the giveaway bags you go home with automatically. Sheesh.

How long does that free canister last anyway? Two days? Does it really make I'd break you if your formula feeding?

jjjtuck jjjtuck

I believe that if you have made a commitment to something you will stick with it no matter what. Formula should be available to moms who maybe had any type of breast surgery so that she can't lactate, a mom who from the get go wheather its right or wrong who said that she is going to formula feed period. Saying that having free formula in the hosipital is tempting is odd. in my labor and recovery room their were no posters on the wall of formula, no pamphlets, and becuase i said i was breastfeeding no one even mentioned formula to me. The entire stay at the hospital i didn't see a single thing about formula or even a "hint" of it. That is like saying hey if your obese or on a diet you shouldn't go grocery shopping because there is tempting food there exspecially the candy isle and your not strong enough to say "no" and there are high processed super easy foods you can pop into the microwave for two min so you don't have to slave over a stove for a healthy cooked grocery stores should have a seperate store just for you so their is no temptation. 

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