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How Would You Feel if Formula Freebies Were No Longer Offered at Hospitals?

How Would You Feel if Formula Freebies Were No Longer Offered at Hospitals? 

 

That is the hopes of some breastfeeding advocates because they feel freebies undermine breast-feeding.

In one quote free formula given at a hospital while a mother makes the decision to  breastfeed is akin to giving divorce papers at a wedding, yet in another statement from the link, a person mentions the choice a breasefeeding mother could make to refuse the freebies as their personal choice.

 

What do you think?  Should parents have the right to refuse formula samples or should formula marketing be cut out of birth centers?

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There are many mothers who can not breast feed for a variety of reasons. I was one of them. Those freebies are often times a God send. I do not think by offering free formula to those mothers who chose to bottle feed their babies is going to discourage any mother who wants to breast feed. Maybe the choice on how to feed the baby should be discussed and decided upon before any freebies are handed out? Most mothers have decided their preference before giving birth anyhow.

Taking into consideration that my child is 9yrs old... 

 

When I gave birth at Regency in Winter Haven, I was crystal clear: DO NOT GIVE MY BABY FORMULA! Part of our birth plan included DH following the baby everywhere she went, making sure the nurses didn't sneak anything in. It was a good thing hubby and I were on the same page regarding breastfeeding, because I kid you not - he had to shoo a bottle away from our baby THREE TIMES before she was brought back to me after her bath to nurse. The nurses tried all 3 times to convince my husband that formula was easier, I needed my rest, and giving her a little taste of it right then wouldn't hurt anything. I couldn't believe the nonsense. THEN, when we were checking out to go home, they said we were REQUIRED to take home the bag of "goodies" from the Formula companies. (Eyeroll)

 

That said, I think if a mother chooses to formula feed.. she should be blessed with all the formula freebies they have to offer. But if a mother is pretty clear on her intentions to breastfeed, then I think the nurses should respect it and have some other type of "goodie bag" they can offer (like lasinoh samples, breast pads, etc). 

The formula companies know what they are doing and they have infiltrated almost every part of maternity care. Your first OB visit at Watson Clinic gets you samples mailed to your door. Joining the club at Motherhood gets you more samples and coupons.Purchasing formula at the store, buying baby photos at the hospital and a number of other things puts you in the formula companies data base. Formula companies give away, for FREE, all the formula the hospital uses unless they are a designated "Baby Friendly" hospital. I think there are 3 in Florida. This also means the hospital cannot accept the FREE continuing education credits that the formula companies offer. Or the food, or the gift baskets or the "educational" material. They pay the sales reps 6 figure incomes to GIVE AWAY their product, food and give FREE education. Formula is about 80% profit and if the company can get you on brand recognition prior to the birth of your baby and then the experts at the hospital and your pediatricians office reinforce that they have a customer for life. Plus Ross (Enfamil) did a study years ago that found mothers who choose to breastfeed and then use formula either in part or whole use more than moms who start out bottlefeeding formula. So these companies know who to target...the breastfeeders.

This is not really an argument about a parents personal choice to formula feed or breastfeed. It is about hospital and health care professional becoming marketers for the formula companies or any other companies. 

If the hospitals and doctors for that matter did a good job educating about the breastfeeding being the biological norm and mothers who choose to breastfeed did not supplement unless there was a medical reason the formula useage in hospitals would go way down. So if moms who made the decsion to formula feed and the babies who had a documented medical need to have formula were the only ones who got it the usage would be something the hospitals could afford to pay for instead of get for free. No hospital would pass this cost along to the patient. But it draws an ethical line in the sand stating WE DO NOT accept free product to influence our patients. Same for the free education.

LLL of Lakeland, a not for profit breastfeeding support group is in the first stage of developing a gift bag for exclusively breastfeeding mothers to choose instead of the one provided by the formula companies. The trouble is breastfeeding does not make money so it is hard to come up with funds for something like this. The goodies we could put in are generally short term, bra pads, Lansinoh. They are not something a mom may very well spend upwards to $5000 a year on for the first year of the baby's life( like formula, bottles and nipples).

Food ( no pun intended) for thought:)

Carla

I accept what Carla says - and I think that full and thorough education of women from a young age that breastfeeding is the best and natural choice (and of course I know it doesn't work for everyone but it does and can work for a whole lot more than are doing it right now) is the only way to tilt the balance in favor of breastfeeding.

 

We have a responsiblity to be educated consumers and this applies just as much to the choices in how and what to feed our babies as it does to any other commodity.  So much is made of the obesity epidemic and people claim that it's because unhealthy brands are pushed and easily available everywhere and this may be the case - but nobody is forcing you or I or anyone to consume what they consume - that is a personal choice.

I believe the same to be true of breastfeeding vs formula.  I was extremely well educated on breastfeeding before I had my first child.  I knew it was what I wanted and it was important for me to work at it to get it right.  And, I did have to work at it somewhat.  

In LRMC when she was born, she was as many newborns are, a sleepy sleepy baby and it was difficult to rouse her to nurse - let alone work at latching etc.  A nurse gave me a bottle with the suggestion that once my baby discovered what she could get with a little work - we could switch to the breast.  This is what I did - I let her have two or three sucks of formula - she woke and was ready to feed - I removed the bottle and put her to the breast where she continued to feed and we never looked back.  She had a teeny tiny taste of formula - and that was enough to get her interested and figure out how to feed!

 

That said - it would have been SO easy for me to say I was too tired to work with her on the breastfeeding - that the bottle was so much easier - and I truly understand many taking that path of least resistance (again, not withstanding any medical issue.) - But, I knew what I wanted to do and I knew giving a full feed on formula would have been a big set back at such an early stage.  I knew this because I educated myself.

 

I kept all those formula samples I received magically from wherever when I was pregnant - I had them in our house 'just in case' - however once I knew we were established in breastfeeding - I gave them away - I never was tempted to give her formula.

 

Once I had my son, I felt more confident in what I was doing and never needed to resort to the 'lick of formula' trick.  I put this down again to knowledge and of course by this time, experience.  No amount of free formula could have lured me away from nursing.

 

 

 

Parents should have the right to refuse any freebie given to them.  We all know someone who can't/couldn't BF and the formula is necessary.  For me, it was a matter of supply for my first child and the fact that I was in ICU for two days with the second.

If the CDC wants to encourage breastfeeding, they'll need to educate moms before they get to the hospital, and also educate medical professionals.  I can see how a nurse would have the goal of getting a baby to eat, don't they have a weight requirement before leaving the hospital?  THere is a conflict message in this for a new mom trying to breastfeed.

Back in December 06 when I had my daughter at Lakeland Regional, I guess I had the best doctor's and nurses.  According to what most have said mine must have not been the norm.  I breastfeed my daughter from the beginning and when I was still in the hospital (was there for 4 days) and so tired in the middle of the night and asked them to take her in the nursery they said they would but would not give her a bottle because I was breastfeeding.  They would give her a little bit of formula in a dropper but only if I ok'd it.  I did get the free samples and am happy I did.  I breastfed for 6 months and then because of having high blood pressure and getting put on medication, I did not want to risk passing it on through breast milk.  The samples came in handy to get her transitioned over before we bought any.  And it was a hard transition, my daughter would not take the bottle and when she finally did she would only take it from me. It took 2 weeks before we could wean her. 

 

I do like the idea of give out 2 different care packages depending on what you choose to do.  But making mothers feel like crap when they choose not to breastfeed is not right.  We have the right to make a choice and not be forced into one or the other. 

I see no problem with formula companies promoting their product. That is what they are suppost to do. Think about it the other way- without formula a lot of babies would go hungry for a variety of reasons. Breastfeeding advocates shouldn't eliminate the free samples. A mother needs to be aware of ALL options and this is just the companies way of showing them their options. While breastfeeding may be best- it is not always an option-or not always the decision of the mother. I think the advocates should just stick to the goal of educating rather than taking away free samples. (who DOESN' T love free samples. If I got a brand that I didn't use- I donated it to babies in need.) 

To Amanda - I don't love free samples that entice moms away from doing what comes naturally to them.

 

My daughter was also offered formula when she was born at the Regency. Despite a successful start to bf'ing and clear instructions. Fortunately, her pigheadedness started early and she wouldn't even take it.

 

I did end up needing to use formula for my 2nd daughter, but only after I pumped breast milk for 7 months. I'm not anti-formula.

 

However, I am 100% anti-marketing to mothers who are in a vulnerable place. The hospitals allow it because of the freebies they get from the formula companies. This crosses an ethical line. It is the same as doctors always prescribing the same cholesterol medicine because the pharm rep brings nice snacks to the office.

 

If hospitals want to make formula available to moms who need it, that is fine. But to do so in a way that discourages the most natural and healthy way to feed a baby is unethical. And honestly, if a baby nurse is going to push formula on moms, maybe she should work in another department. Yes, I said push. It happens all of the time, to some of you even.

 

My decision to birth my 2nd daughter with the help of a midwife was fueled in part by the propaganda one sees all over ob's offices and the hospital.

 

I am not suggesting that moms who choose formula are evil. I'm not even suggesting they are bad moms who not bf'ing. My point is that hospitals act unethically when they accept so many freebies in exchange for free marketing to new moms.

All of this goes back to my point that the responsibility lies on the mother to make the choice.  If you are probreastfeeding and that is what you want to do - you need to assert that clearly.  No nurse, marketer, ad, or free sample will ever force you to feed formula to your baby.  It all goes back to education.



Jennifer Sabin said:

To Amanda - I don't love free samples that entice moms away from doing what comes naturally to them.

 

My daughter was also offered formula when she was born at the Regency. Despite a successful start to bf'ing and clear instructions. Fortunately, her pigheadedness started early and she wouldn't even take it.

 

I did end up needing to use formula for my 2nd daughter, but only after I pumped breast milk for 7 months. I'm not anti-formula.

 

However, I am 100% anti-marketing to mothers who are in a vulnerable place. The hospitals allow it because of the freebies they get from the formula companies. This crosses an ethical line. It is the same as doctors always prescribing the same cholesterol medicine because the pharm rep brings nice snacks to the office.

 

If hospitals want to make formula available to moms who need it, that is fine. But to do so in a way that discourages the most natural and healthy way to feed a baby is unethical. And honestly, if a baby nurse is going to push formula on moms, maybe she should work in another department. Yes, I said push. It happens all of the time, to some of you even.

 

My decision to birth my 2nd daughter with the help of a midwife was fueled in part by the propaganda one sees all over ob's offices and the hospital.

 

I am not suggesting that moms who choose formula are evil. I'm not even suggesting they are bad moms who not bf'ing. My point is that hospitals act unethically when they accept so many freebies in exchange for free marketing to new moms.

But what about the women who are on the fence or undecided? Why should the automatic choice be for hospitals to offer her formula or for nurses to say it is easier to formula feed?

 

The truth is, it is NOT easier to formula feed (medical conditions aside). Bottles, nipples, late night runs because you are almost out, having to throw it away after 1 hour... it is a lot more work to formula feed than it is to breast feed.

 

Ultimately, this is not about the mom's choice. This is about hospitals behaving in an unethical way. There is little to no disclosure of their marketing quid pro quo relationship. 

Think about this for a moment. Have any of you ever recieved care unrelated to maternity in a hospital? Say had your gallbladder out or an illness or operation? Did you recieve free samples from the nurse or doctors while there? I am guessing no. I have been hospitilized twice and was never offered a sample of anything to better my care after discharge. Why is this so important when having a baby? Because the company knows they are getting a customer for life and are making 80% profit everytime you buy their product. A product you will use for a year for each child you have. Maybe more with all the toddler follow up formulas being marketed now. Formula is in every magazine and in every store and each company has a web site where you can during the 9 months of your pregnancy educate your self. The hospital should be under no obligation to "show you your options". This is marketing on the hospitals part for the formula companies.

There is nothing to sell when you breastfeed. Breasts don't have salesmen. I don't care who breastfeeds and who doesnt. I dont get a bonus when the hospital has more breastfeeders. It is just NOT ok for health care professionals to act as distributors and marketers of formula. Or any other drug/product for that matter.

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