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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Kritika Kritika

Most people are GRATEFUL when they're provided with free things. Give it to a friend that can't breastfeed.

angev... angevil53

i think it's stupid, if someone doesn't want it they shouldn't take it. but those that do it's fine.

Christen Nichols

Yeah, a foodbank would be very thankful for the formula. Heck, I would be thankful for it! As a formula feeding mother, I will take all the free formula I can get. Just because another mother doesn't want it or is offended by receiving it doesn't mean there aren't countless number of mothers thankful to receive it.

nonmember avatar NavyWife

What the hell? I was forced to try breastfeeding after telling the midwives over and over again that I couldn't due to a breast reduction. They sent lactation consultants in to help me. I asked them to look into how a breast reduction is done and educate themselves on why I couldn't do it. I really don't like it when people force this type of thing on me. Breast is best for those who can, but for people who can't do it, formula works just as well.

nonmember avatar cm

I think you're missing the point. The temptation is huge when you're tired and exhausted. Rather than being supportive, a nurse is just going to give you a bottle and there's a great possibility that you've just sabatoged your breastfeeding relationship. While formula should be available if you want it, I think the freebies and gifts to doctors, the contests for nurses that give out the most bottles, and the overt advertising to moms needs to stop.

coffe... coffee.crisp

I am incredibly grateful for the free formula I was given when I wasn't able to breastfeed. It also worked out perfectly because I was on WIC with my first child and the same formula was provided through WIC. It's ridiculous to say that it's too much of a temptation for breastfeeding moms to have access to free formula. If formula is "too much of a temptation" in the hospital, you can guarantee that mom will give in to that same temptation at SOME point anyway. And yes... the baby will survive and thrive on formula, just like mine did.

Please don't let the breastfeeding nazis take away something that is actually helping those women (like myself) who really needed it.

Lynette Lynette

I had a nurse throw a fit because I wouldn't take those free samples.  They should NOT be given.  Another option would be to give formula feeding moms coupons for the stuff, or mail in rebates.  those samples reek havoc w/ a new breastfeeding mom, especially if she has people undermining her with them at home.

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

OMFG..I couldnt even finish this this article.... So, you mean to tell me the 4 days that I had to stay in the hospital after my c-section, when my nipples were bleeding and cracked, and there was no breastmilk in sight...I was just supposed to let my kid STARVE because you think everything is a money racket? Are you kidding me?! As a bottle feeding mother I did (and am doing, since I'm pregnant again) tons and tons of research on which formula I thought would be best, just in case. I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful hospital with a selection of formulas that I could choose from. After I finally got my child FED we all calmed down and were able to rest and enjoy ourselves. 

I REALLY try to not be on one side or the other about the whole breast and bottle thing, but with posts like this its enough to get anyone riled up. If I were a breastfeeding mother I'd hate to have assholes like this representing me like I'm a better mother because of the way I choose to feed my child. Im no better than any one else and neither is your average boobfeeder. We all love and try to nourish our children the best we can, yet there are STILL articles like this floating around. I really must question my reasoning behind coming to this site because I find myself more and more outraged by the day! -.-

Kritika Kritika

Evalyn have you settled on any particular brand yet? I am going to be formula feeding because of my work situation and even though we're TTC 6 months now I'm getting well educated on everything....there's a lot out there!

Evaly... EvalynCarnate

The last time I settled on Gerber goodstart with DHA and ARA, but I havent chosen a new brand just yet. Theres a LOT that has changed in the 7 years since I had my last one! :-p

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