R.I. hospitals ban free bags of infant formula: Good or bad?

To help encourage breast feeding, Rhode Island’s seven birthing hospitals have stopped giving new mothers free bags of formula as they leave the hospital.

From The Associated Press:

“State health officials hailed the decision, noting that breastfeeding has been proved healthier than formula for both infants and mothers. Stephanie Chafee, a nurse and the wife of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, called the decision a critical step toward increasing breastfeeding rates.”

“ ‘As the first ‘bag-free’ state in the nation, Rhode Island will have healthier children, healthier mothers, and a healthier population as a whole,’ Chafee said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment.’ ”

“Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.”

“The new policy isn’t intended to force women into nursing their children, according to Denise Laprade, a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center, which eliminated free formula distribution last month. She said the focus is instead on parental education and helping mothers decide what’s best for their child.”

” ‘We never make any woman feel guilty about her decision,’ Laprade said. She said she has received few complaints from parents about the new policy, though she said the older nurses needed a little time to adjust.”

“Thirty-eight percent of Rhode Island mothers nurse their babies six months after birth, compared with 44 percent nationally, according to a report issued this year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

“State Health Director Michael Fine said the state hopes to raise the percentage of Rhode Island mothers nursing at six months to 60 percent by 2020.”

The new policy isn’t a law. It is just the seven hospital all agreeing to do it. According to AP, nationally, about 540 of the nation’s 3,300 birthing hospitals have stopped the formula giveaways, according to Marsha Walker, a registered nurse in Massachusetts and co-chairwoman of “Ban the Bags,” a campaign to eliminate formula giveaways at maternity hospitals.

From AP:

“Walker said the bags given to new mothers — typically containing a few days’ worth of formula — amount to a sophisticated marketing campaign by formula manufacturers.”

” ‘Hospitals should market health and nothing else,’ she said. ‘When hospitals give these out, it looks like an endorsement of a commercial product.’ ”

“The International Formula Council, a trade group representing formula manufacturers, opposes the end of free formula samples. A spokeswoman for the group did not return messages, but a statement on the council’s website notes that the sample bags also include “key educational materials” on how to use and store formula.

“ ‘Approximately 80 percent of U.S. infants will be given formula at some point during their first year of life,” the organization said in a statement. “Therefore, these educational materials are needed by the vast majority of mothers to ensure infant formula is prepared correctly and the baby’s health is not jeopardized.’ “

A mom in the story suggested it should be up to the mothers if they want to take the formula or not.

I was given the free formula bags with all three babies. I saw it as back up just in case something terrible happened and I needed to make a bottle since I never bought any to have in the house. I think when I used it for one or two feedings with my firth when I had a breast infection and it hurt terribly to nurse. With my second and third I think I ended up giving it away each time because I didn’t want to it go to waste.

I wonder if not giving it to new mothers will really convince them to stick with nursing or if it just forces them to spend money on some formula to have in the house in case of an emergency?

There was a story recently about a World Health Organization study in the Philippines that found that Filipino mothers who have been influenced by advertisements or their doctors to use infant formula are two to four times more likely to feed their babies with those products.

What do you think: Do the free samples of formula hurt women’s commitment to nursing? Did it help or hurt to bring it home? Did you end up using it? Did you view as a backstop just in case or were you happy to have free formula? (It is expensive.)

56 comments Add your comment

MomsRule

November 29th, 2011
7:22 am

If a woman is committed to nursing a couple free samples won’t deter her. After the birth of both of my boys, I pulled out the items I knew I would use (travel size powder for example) and threw everything else from the hospital in the garbage. I think I gave the formula to a friend that was bottle feeding. It didn’t occur to me to keep it for an emergency. Even now, I can’t think of a single situation in my everyday life that would have required formula as a back up.

Me

November 29th, 2011
7:49 am

Not sure I have a dog in this race, ergo, not sure my thoughts matter — I don’t think providing the free bags of formula – or witholding in this case – makes much of a difference at all. I can only speak for us and our three offspring but the decision to breast feed was made without outside influence. I’m so old now that I honestly don’t recall if formula was provided by the hospital. I guess it’s possible that, with free formula being provided, this could encourage some of the young parents to “take the easy path” and use formula instead of committing to breast feeding and some of the aggravation that naturally is associated with breast feeding. But, what do I know?

Fred

November 29th, 2011
8:09 am

What a bunch of pompous asses. My wife breast fed our child, however she didn’t produce enough milk hence she had to supplement. I guess though these folks would suggest she just go hungry til the “tanks” refilled.

Gotta love the one size fits all mentality.

Tig

November 29th, 2011
8:19 am

If a mother asks for the formula, I’m all in favor of giving it to them. However, if people don’t ask for it, it shouldn’t be forced upon them.

Between the hospital and companies sending me free samples of formula before and after my daughter was born, I would have been set if I had wanted to bottle feed her from the start, lol.

We wound up donating all of our still-closed formula to a women’s shelter.

LM

November 29th, 2011
8:25 am

I think if a woman is going to breastfeed, a few samples are un-necessary and a waste. If after being pregnant and a woman is still unsure if she wants to breastfeed, it is her responsibility to purchase the items she will need.

Most people seems to love free samples, but the cost of those samples are added into the cost of the product.

I breastfed, so the added cost to the formula was not something I ever thought about. I think the woman has the right to figure out what is best for herself and her baby, but automatically handing out free samples at the hospital kinda looks like the hospital and it’s staff feel formula is best for baby. Educated and informed people know, but we are not talking about educated and informed people, we are talking about young girls, women of limited edcuation and resources, girls and women who then feel they deserve “free samples” because they had a baby and could not afford the cost of a baby.

Sorry, will get off my soap box….

DB

November 29th, 2011
8:35 am

I wonder if not giving it to new mothers will really convince them to stick with nursing or if it just forces them to spend money on some formula to have in the house in case of an emergency?

Sorry, but it is not the hospital’s job to provide patients with emergency food for home use. “Forces” them to spend money? Hello? They just had a BABY — they thought it was going to be FREE?! If there’s someone who was counting on that free bag of sample food in order to feed their kid, that kid is doomed, anyway.

LIZ

November 29th, 2011
8:53 am

Feeding your children is your responsibility. Maybe if we stopped giving away “free formula” to teenagers, they might think twice about getting pregnant. The Health Dept. already gives away “free” birth control….lets promote that instead.

yuki

November 29th, 2011
8:56 am

This is stupid. It should be a choice. Do you want the samples or not? “No, ok.” “You do, great, here you go!” I am three weeks away from due date. With my first child, I had to supplement because I wasn’t producing enough either and I appreciated the samples. I didn’t “need” them but they were nice to have to take home anyway.

It shouldn’t be up to a hospital to decide what will “encourage” mothers to breastfeed or not- it’s a personal choice.

jarvis

November 29th, 2011
8:57 am

If the hospitals agreed to it, I have no problem with it. They can choose what items are given away at their places of business. The fact that it isn’t law makes all of the difference in the world to me.

Fred

November 29th, 2011
9:02 am

Some of you folks really need to get a clue. The “free samples” are covered under the cost of advertising. Much the same way a Doctors office has tons of “free samples” .

But let’s not stop there, the same ‘evil formula manufacturers” not only hoist evil poisoned formula’s on unsuspecting mothers and through the hospitals and Dr’s give it away to those who can’t afford it, but they ALSO support financially the maternity wards thus driving DOWN your costs.

Their benefit? Why when our little can of formula ran out, we bought that kind. our daughter was used to it so why change? I liked the free gift bags we got when my wife left the hospital. And do you think we didn’t notice the brands and that it didn’t influence what we bought later? You bet your bippy it did. It was a mutually benefitting arrangement between us and the “evil formula makers.”

motherjanegoose

November 29th, 2011
9:05 am

I remember taking home formula samples YEARS ago. I planned to breastfeed and stuck with it.
That was just me. I did keep the formula and used it ONCE in a while when I was not in a position to be able to breastfeed discreetly and since I went back to work, I left some in the diaper bag in case of emergency.

I once worked in our church nursery with a lady who had no children of her own. She was about 40. I was carefully taking the bottles out of the diaper bags and keeping at eagle eye on them. She was very flippant about it and I asked her what she was doing. “Just give me a bottle, they need to eat…no big deal!” WHAT? I cannot imagine my child drinking someone else’s breast milk or a breast fed baby drinking someone else’s formula. Not that my own milk was sacred, I just would prefer my own baby to have my own milk…anyone else? Not to mention allergies or an upset stomach for some and the parents would have no idea!

@ Fred…thanks for the laugh on your comment last night at 10:45. I am not trying to fool anyone. When I am in the midwest and ask them to guess where I was born, they NEVER guess Chicago. They always say, “you can tell you are from the south.” While those who live here say, ” You can tell that you are not from the south, where were you born?” Humorous, to me.

Fred

November 29th, 2011
9:06 am

SOme of you (Liz, DB) need to step back from the radio a minute and turn it off until you can think for yourself and not just spit out the ignorant hateful words of talk show hosts.

Do you REALLY believe that the high school girls that get pregnant do it because they think they can get free formula Liz? Really? Do you even THINK before you type?

DB? Really? And it’s not a “right” of the makers of these products to give them away if they wish to? Fascist much? Do YOU think before you spout?

Fred

November 29th, 2011
9:07 am

MJG: I figured you’d get a chuckle out of it. :D You and ATLmom teed it up so nicely I HAD to drive it down range lol.

TXMom

November 29th, 2011
9:45 am

Wow, how presumptive of them to assume that anyone who feeds their child formula instead of breastmilk is doing it because they were given free bottles of formula at the hospital. What about people like me, who really, really wanted to BF, but never produced anything? Should our children starve because we can’t produce BF to nourish them?

Don’t get me wrong, breast milk is absolutely the best thing for your baby. But, formula exists for a reason – there are those of us who can’t, for whatever reason, nurse our children. I’m sick and tired of being demonized because I formula-fed my kids. It was either that or they would starve to death.

MatthewH

November 29th, 2011
10:04 am

My wife tried to breast feed both of our children, and for the first, she met with the lactation consultant on many occasions.
I agree with TXMom- What I don’t like is the pervavsive idea that says that women are “less” of a woman if they bottle-feed. Even though we got the free samples, the hospital tried everything they could to get her to breast feed, and really made her feel guilty that our son wasn’t taking to the breast.

Juggs N Buns magazine

November 29th, 2011
10:06 am

Keep the breast feeding stories coming……Ladies

HB

November 29th, 2011
10:15 am

“And it’s not a “right” of the makers of these products to give them away if they wish to?”

Of course they have a right to give away products, but not specifically in the hospital. Hospitals have a right to choose not to be the outlet for companies’ marketing and give-aways.

JOD

November 29th, 2011
10:17 am

@Fred/TXMom/MatthewH – Right on. I bet your kids are sick all the time, blah, blah… Mine was almost exclusively formula-fed since I couldn’t keep for anything, and she is healthy as can be. My first reaction upon reading this was…*sigh*. It’s too bad us terrible parents who used or supplemented with formula hate our kids so much, since they would have been healthier with nature’s only goodness. First Lady Chafee is quite the do-gooder.

All sarcasm aside, fortunately most people who spew this nonsense aren’t brave enough to say it to our collective faces.

motherjanegoose

November 29th, 2011
10:54 am

@ JOD…my kids had ear infections quite frequently and also allergies. They were both breastfed 90% of the time until they were 8 and 11 months. Of course, we did introduce food when it was time. As a parent, your make your own choices for your own reasons. It is foolish to think that everyone has done their research about how to feed their baby and equally foolish to thing EVERYONE can breasfeed successfully.

I know a bit about FREE and how it can entice people. I used it a lot when I first started out and now I have customers who have been have loyally contracted me for over 10 years ( much longer than one baby on formula). FREE can certainly get your foot in the door.

When I was first starting out, a consultant told me…
“You have to work for FREE for 5 or so years and then your name will be out there.” I found that advice to be true and tend to pass it along to those who tell me, ” I would love to do what you do!’ Many are not serious enough to work for free and take the risk …I was and it has paid off.

My husband and I just mentioned that we have tried lots of new restaurants, due to the FREE coupons. We just tried a Mexican restaurant last week and we liked it. We will be back!

JOD

November 29th, 2011
11:01 am

@MJG – Exactly – there’s no one size fits all for every situation, as Fred put it earlier. Bet you’re glad not to be working for free anymore :o)

homeschooler

November 29th, 2011
11:17 am

I was one who was committed to breast feeding and damn near starved my child. My first 6 weeks as a mom are a blur of him crying, nursing,crying, nursing.. I read the books, was determined not to suppliment because the “book” said that I would never produce more milk if I supplimented. So I forged on with every “mom” instinct in me telling me he was hungary but…the doctors say, and the damn book says…blah blah blah… At 8 weeks, he was diagnosed failure to thrive. The doctor brought me a bottle of formula into the exam room. I fed him the formula and cried the whole time wondering how much happier my first 6 weeks as a mom would have been had I just fed him the formula to begin with.
I don’t see how anyone can think that hospitals promote formula. I saw the free samples as simply advertisement. The hospial, doctors etc.. promote nothing but breastfeeding. My kids are 11 and 8. They are the healthiest kids I know. My son (the one who almost starved)has never taken an antibiotic. My daughter had one ear infection as a baby and neither has ever contracted a stomach virus. (knock on wood). My advise to moms is to listen to your heart and listen to your child. Screw all those do-good nurses and doctors and your friends who think they know everything. I loved nursing and even tried it with my second child (that lasted 6 days)but, in the end, it really doesn’t matter.
I don’t think any of us can say if the hospitals should or should not give out the formula. That is between the hospital and the formula companies. However, I will be making sure I don’t own any stock in Similac or Enfamil.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

November 29th, 2011
11:20 am

A great story from Gracie Bond STaples about pediatricians banding together to provide after hours care so you don’t have to go to the more expensive emergency room or urgent care clinic. This is so smart and makes so much sense!!! Good for these doctors for providing a service to their patients at a reasonable costs that doesn’t put them out because they all rotate together! http://www.ajc.com/lifestyle/pediatricians-join-forces-to-1243470.html

oneofeach4me

November 29th, 2011
11:23 am

I, like Fred’s wife, didn’t produce for at least a week after the birth of my children. I had to supplement for the first week or so with them both because the Colostrum just wasn’t cutting it. I of course used the samples that the hospital sent home with me. Now… my son, he needed more substance than my breast milk could give him, so after 3 months he was on soy formula and breast milk.

People also need to keep in mind preemies. Most cannot breast feed, and when they are of age to try, not all mother’s have been pumping to keep up milk production. Most preemies end up on the VERY expensive type of formula. My nephew ended up and the preemie one, and those few samples my sister came home with allowed her to adjust her budget to accommodate for the BIG difference in cost.

I really don’t think that giving out free samples of formula is a big deal. Most women, once they get to the point of birth, already have an idea of what they would like to do, whether to breast feed or bottle feed. It’s entirely up to them. As long as the woman is feeding her child either formula or breast milk to me, it shouldn’t matter. Let the woman make the decision. Everyone should be asked if they would like a free sample bag period.

And if my memory serves me correctly, the hospital also sent me home with a pack of disposable diapers. So what’s next? Pushing the use of cloth diapers? (which I tried by the way… NOT for me! lol)

motherjanegoose

November 29th, 2011
11:39 am

@ JOD…I still work for free sometimes. Not as much as I used to. I offer many specials to cuurent clients who book me a lot. I also offer free school shows, when someone has contracted me to come in and speak with their teachers. It helps me to broaden my base as I have worked with children all over the country and know my material is effective with lots of different kinds of children. I then have the feedback ( from the schools) to send to new clients.

There are MANY educational consultants who have more credentials than I do but not too many who can walk into a room with 100 Kindergarteners and engage them all at the same time NOW. This is what I pitch to my clients…I know methods/best practices that work and not as much about research.

To me, this is kind of like Pediatricians who know a LOT about childhood disease and medications ( which I absolutely respect) but cannot be left in a room with 10 four year olds for an hour. We each have our own talents. There are many things I know little or nothing about! I could never be a Doctor nor a Pharamacist :) for that matter. I have seen first hand the amount of information my son needs to process and my brain is not capable of it anymore.

There are those who know the book aspect of breastfeeding and then there are those who have or have not been able to do it. It is important ( to me) to talk to the latter group. The principal of my school helped me as my own mother was against it.

catlady

November 29th, 2011
11:39 am

Use it or not. It’s up to you. End of drama.

Theresa, what about the 200 lb 3rd grader taken from his mother after he failed to lose weight? Can we talk about that?

motherjanegoose

November 29th, 2011
11:39 am

ooops…I should know how to spell Pharmacist and current too!

homeschooler

November 29th, 2011
11:55 am

I second the motion from catlady.

motherjanegoose

November 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

@catlady and homeschooler…let’s do it!

Leigh

November 29th, 2011
12:34 pm

What’s the big deal? The hospitals just said that they themselves are not giving free samples out to new mothers – they didn’t say that the formula companies could not give out the free formula in other venues. And they didn’t say that supplementing or having other feeding ideas other than 100% breastfeeding was wrong. The medical centers are just stepping out of the business of helping to promote it. That’s more appropriate anyway.

Aubrey

November 29th, 2011
12:59 pm

I agree with Leigh. Hospitals should not be in business with formula companies. I wish more breastfeeding mothers really understood what even one bottle of formula does to your child’s gut flora. They deserve the best start (breast milk). If you get home and can’t do it, that’s fine. Go buy some, but hospitals should not be promoting it.

K's mom

November 29th, 2011
1:15 pm

I am so sick of this crap being news, I could scream. I have an 18month old and am pregnant again. I could not breast feed my son due to daily medication that I have to take. I was shocked at the amount of support I received from my physician, the midwife and GASP my pediatrician. When we discussed it the first time I had my speech prepared on why I was making this decision and the health ramifications for me if another decision was made. She stopped me midway through my first sentence and said, you are smart and educated and you are not making a bad decision, just a different one. I expected the same judgement and finger wagging from her that I got from “friends,” family and the media. Guess what, my kid has had one ear infection in his whole life and is ahead of most of his milestones-probably because we read to him, sing to him, spend time with him and feed him well and engage with him. This has all happened despite me being a “bad” and “selfish” mother and choosing to take care of my body so that I could focus on effectively parenting.

I have had friends who have ended up on anti-depressants because they have been so ridiculed by pediatricians, nurses and lactation consultants for not trying hard enough to breast feed. This is something we should be far more worried about than whether or not formula samples are dispensed. I have heard of moms in the midwest who go home so exhausted after giving birth and being forced to room in with their babies to encourage breast feeding that they can hardly function upon returning home. Again, I would be furious if after having a child I was forced to room in when I needed rest so that I could effectively parent when I returned home.

TXmom, homeschooler, Fred, MatthewH, and JOD-keep sharing your stories so that women who are forced through whatever set of circumstanced to bottle feed do not feel alone or like bad parents. I plan to share my story and plan to recommend my pediatrician to anyone who has been made to feel bad for making a choice that is better for their family than what a few experts “recommend.”

R

November 29th, 2011
1:16 pm

I could not produce enough milk for my baby either. When I took him in for a well visit I talked to his pediatrician and he told me, “Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about feeding your baby formula. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it.”

If you can breast feed exclusively, well then fabulous for you. DO NOT talk to me like I am a crappy mom simply because I formula fed my baby. There are much worse things people do to their kids.

Aubrey

November 29th, 2011
1:30 pm

I should mention there is nothing wrong with formula. But pushing the formula in the hospital is pervasive. I guarantee these hospital will sitll provide formula while in the hospital to mothers who are choosing to formula feed BUT why should they be sending home free formula with everyone. I came away with probably half a dozen cans and ended up donating it all to MUST. Somebody is paying for that though.

oneofeach4me

November 29th, 2011
2:09 pm

@Aubrey ~ On the contrary, the hospital pushed me toward breastfeeding and didn’t even mention formula. The samples were just in a “care package” they sent home with me. They actually sent a Le Louche rep to my see me at the hospital when I didn’t even request one. I did breastfeed my kids (one was half and half) but only because I was able and that it was my choice. As a mom, I would have probably felt like crap if I wasn’t able to “perform” with the breastfeeding the way everyone was shoving it at me. I really cannot imagine how women who cannot for medical reasons or just choose not to feel. Probably ridiculed and inadequate and that’s wrong.

K's mom

November 29th, 2011
2:12 pm

Aubrey, I get what you are saying, but what about the mom who is exhausted, has a screaming child, a husband who is asleep and cannot get their baby to latch at 3am. Would it not be better for that child and that mother to have a “back up” plan with free formula in the pantry?

I have a friend who successfully nursed for a year with her second child. When that child was only a few weeks old the friend had an allergic reaction to a food and had to be rushed to the ER. The baby’s grandmother was left there with only the free formula to feed this baby because of an unexpected emergency. Yes, that is an extreme case, but in my opinion any family who does not have back up formula in the house for an emergency (women hemmorage after birth etc) is setting themselves up for disaster. And frozen breast milk is not always available in the beginning because of supply issues.

Again, I see this as an attack on mother’s being able to make an informed decision for themselves and their families.

K's mom

November 29th, 2011
2:17 pm

that should be mothers not mother’s

Techie

November 29th, 2011
2:43 pm

I’m sick of the BOOBFEEDING lobby. That’s all they are…plenty of kids raised in the 60s and 70s did just fine on formula.

DB

November 29th, 2011
3:51 pm

@Fred: No one is preventing formula providers from giving away their wares. The hospitals have made an independent decision and just decided not to do it for them. What’s wrong with that? Perhaps the formula providers will start descending on pediatricians, trying to coax them into giving out formula on the baby’s first well visit.

DB

November 29th, 2011
3:56 pm

@K’s mom: I don’t have a problem with a family having emergency supplies of formula. What I do find intriguing is that simply because the hospitals have declined to stop giving them out, suddenly people are concerned that babies will starve. It is NOT the hospital’s job to provide on-going nourishment for babies, any more than it is the hospital’s job to provide a month’s worth of diapers, or a few newborn shirts, etc., etc. just in case the parents hadn’t gotten around to it.

atlmom

November 29th, 2011
4:06 pm

wow, so are the hospitals going to stop giving away the free diapers because they think that people should not use disposable diapers? When does it end?
It was great to get the formula from the hospital – for all the reasons mentioned. I nursed my two kids for about 13 months each. But there were times I couldn’t, and that was what formula was for (hint hint: for more samples, just ask at the pediatrician’s office, they are glad to get rid of it). So it was nice to have extra…

blame Obama!!

November 29th, 2011
4:40 pm

Its Obama’s fault! …as soon as i find a rationale for my opinion ill post again…can someone help me out to find a way to blame him? No more entitlements? Must be the Dem’s fault.

Denise

November 29th, 2011
4:51 pm

The whole “breastfeed or else” comments make me tired…and unhappy and I’m not even a mother. The judgment of other families for the decisions THEY make for THEIR children in THEIR families is not right. When formula starts causing wide-spread life-threating diseases then let’s talk.

sobelle

November 29th, 2011
5:34 pm

Enough with the breast feeding agenda. I have two college age children who have no health problems, who were formula fed, who are getting As in college. Anyone can make any study look the way they want it to so don’t get all excited because someone told the breast feeders they did the right thing. “Oh I told my husband it was best I stayed home with the kids so I could breast feed…..”
Get over yourselves and allow everyone to have freedom of choice – not necessarily your choice but a choice of their own. It seems there is no other reason for Rhode Island to have taken their stand but to dissuade people from bottle feeding. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, don’t tell me it’s a chicken.

Fred

November 29th, 2011
6:47 pm

@ DB: They already do. We got free formula from our pediatrician as well. I told her, “We can afford to buy it, save it for those who can’t.” She said, ‘Nonsense, they give us plenty for all, but thank you for your concern.” Basically she explained that they (the formula companies) give enough for every mother’s first visit, but will give all that is needed for those who really can’t afford it. Or maybe it was a partnership with the practice, I don’t know. I thought it was a cool program either way. My wife nursed all she could but we STILL bought a butt load of formula for our little piglet. Funny thing is that now she (the piglet) is skinny as a rail. But I think she drank her weight each day as a baby in both breast milk and formula…………….

K's Mom

November 29th, 2011
6:57 pm

@DB, it is not just about babies starving, it is about women being made to feel like inferior mothers. Most women at the major hospitals in Atlanta are required to meet with a lactation consultant. Most of my friends have felt pressured durinf these meetings and were upset with the requirement. If hospitals are going to require a visit with a lactation consultant, women should also get another option that is safe and nutritious in case breast feeding does not work or the baby fails to thrive.

Taking away formula samples is another way that the breastfeeding lobby is intimidating women into doing what they want even when it may not be in the best interest of anyone!

Fred

November 29th, 2011
7:59 pm

I find this discussion very interesting on several levels. I guess I never realized that breasts to a woman and breast feeding were as important to them as balls on a man, (and their functionality).

I have read post after post from women who were made to feel “less of a woman” because they couldn’t or wouldn’t breast feed. Thank you for sharing and giving me (at least) insight.

I wonder if my wife felt that way because she had to supplement. I never asked her about it because it didn’t really “mean” anything to me. She did what she had to do to feed our child and that was good enough for me. I never gave it another thought.

Well that’s not true lol. I gave it PLENTY of thought when she was out of milk and I had to feed the child at 0′dark thirty in the morning. J/K it didn’t phase me a bit. Was glad she got the rest.

Lauren

November 29th, 2011
9:00 pm

This comment is for all the sanctimonious “a single formula bottle is the gateway to hell” people.

As a new mom – you people had me so scared about formula that my baby ended up borderline failure to thrive as we struggled with a feeding issue (”tongue-tied”) that wasn’t diagnosed until she was a month old.
Later on as a working mom with a thriving 5 month old – I felt like a failure again when even after pumping literally every two hours at work – I could not cover all my baby’s milk needs during the day when I was away. I cried for days over supplementing one formula bottle every other day but my only other choice was to short her bottles. Then I did the math and realized my baby was still 96% breastfed and she switched back and forth from her breastmilk and formula bottles with ease.

I am still angry over the pressure I received from “the books” – other people – and myself. It was not good for me or my baby. Now I try to counsel my friends but they don’t hear me. Currently I’m trying to convince a friend struggling with post-partum issues that she needs to get away for an afternoon or evening but she will not do it because she has no reserve breastmilk. Meanwhile she spirals deeper into post-partum because she will not give herself a break.

I am very grateful for all the support out there today for nursing mothers but we have to remember that formula is not the devil. As a supplement either to top off supply – or to fill the gap during nursing issues – or to just give the mother a break – it’s ok. Stop expecting women to sacrifice their sanity and potentially their baby’s health.

Mahopinion

November 29th, 2011
11:55 pm

“If a woman is committed to nursing a couple free samples won’t deter her. ”

-missing even a single breast feeding session in favor of the “convenient” free sample does have a big impact on the early production of milk supply. Formula is vastly inferior to breast milk in every way. The early days of breast feeding help inoculate the GI tract and helps protect the infant against illnesses. The World Health Organization puts formula feeding at the absolute bottom of the list of recommended feeding methods.

In addition to the health benefits of breast feeding to mom and baby (decreased rates of respiratory infections, ear infections, cancers, childhood obesity and even SIDS) there are great financial benefits to breast feeding. Fewer doctor visits, fewer absences from work, and most of all a direct savings of about $3000 that first year in the cost of the formula alone.

Don’t be fooled. Those “free samples” aren’t given for your convenience out of the goodness of the formula companies heart. They have a product to sell and they want you to fork the money over to them out of your gratefulness for that cute little diaper bag or teddy bear.

DB

November 30th, 2011
12:13 am

@K’s Mom: If a hospital uses Pampers, do parents feel that they have to run out and get Pampers instead of Huggies? Personally, I couldn’t care less who feeds who what. I breastfed for six months with one baby, and with the second, I didn’t produce enough, so yep, she got supplemented and after four months, she had formula exclusively. I didn’t feel superior — I did feel like it was more convenient, but I sure didn’t look down on anyone who chose to use formula. I’m guess I’m really trying to understand why a woman would feel intimidated to the point where they would be psychotic over a baby getting a drop of formula, or measure their mothering skills based on how much breastmilk they could produce. Women aren’t cows, who get blue ribbons at the fair for milk output! Look around — most of us over 40 were fed formula, because during the 50’s and 60’s, breastfeeding was actively discouraged (it would “ruin” your breasts, or something like that). If you don’t want to breastfeed, “just say no,” and don’t apologize to ANYONE. It’s good practice for when the child is older :-) If you want to try breastfeeding, try it. If the idea doesn’t appeal, or if you try it but you don’t like it, or you baby needs more than you can produce, then move on — at least you have options. It just seems awfully early to be getting into battles over food with your child! And if anyone tries to make you feel guilty for your choice, tell them to mind their own business. Let’s face it, new parents get second-guessed about EVERYTHING they do, from diapers (disposable? cloth?), pacifiers, naps, feeding, bedtimes, sleeping arrangements, etc. Why does whether or not a hospital give out freebies such a big deal?

DB

November 30th, 2011
12:22 am

@K’s Mom: The lactation consultant may be encouraged, but if a mom knows she isn’t going to be nursing, all she has to do is say, “no, thanks” when they come around. Hospitals can suggest — but require? This isn’t the same as AMA – ‘against medical advice’. Excuse me, who is paying the bill, here? If I didn’t want to waste my time with a “lactation consultant”, it’s easy enough to politely decline their services. It’s not as if hospitals keep new mothers in the hospital long enough, anyway. And if a woman feels strongly enough about it, she can have a note made on her chart: “NO LACTATION CONSULTATION”.