Formula Freebies Are Disappearing From More and More Hospitals

baby formula

Breastfeeding advocates rejoice: A new study has found that fewer hospitals are handing out free formula to new moms. The reason: These freebies can throw a wrench in breastfeeding.

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Back in 2007, nearly three out of four U.S. hospital doled out free packs of formula. In 2013, less than one in three do, according to the study published in Pediatrics.

And that's good because the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their infants for the first six months, saying it's healthiest for the child.

I'm happy to hear about the decline of free formula, since I was offered tons of it upon leaving the hospital after giving birth to my daughter. And even though I planned to breastfeed, I took it home anyway for several reasons: One, as a new mom fretting "how am i going to pay this kid's college tuition?", I found it all but impossible to resist any free handout. Two, what if breastfeeding didn't pan out? I figured it would be good to have a backup.

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Yet here's the problem: When my milk didn't come in right away, I caved and used the formula. As a result, my baby was full, and didn't nurse as much as she should have to trigger my milk production. This became a vicious cycle -- the less she nursed, the less milk my body made, so the more formula she needed to drink. Only once I stopped using formula did my milk start flowing and all was fine after that ... still, though, it was a close call, and I believe that the lure of free formula could be largely to blame.

I'm not saying formula is bad -- I think it's fine if that's your choice. And yes, while I chose to take that free formula home with me as a backup plan, I didn't hear anything from the hospital staff about how this could throw a wrench in my ability to breastfeed. So, in a way, I felt duped, or at least like they weren't filling me in on the potential ramifications of these freebies. 

So unless hospitals slap a label on that freebie formula saying WARNING: THIS COULD INTERFERE WITH YOUR ABILITY TO BREASTFEED, I think free formula should not be offered at hospitals. Because it's a far cry from free when you consider the consequences.

Were you offered formula freebies at your hospital?

 

Image via Africa Studio/shutterstock

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