If you've had a hospital birth in the last 20 years on the day you checked out (after delivering your precious bundle) you were probably equipped with a slew of free diapers, receiving blankets, and infant formula to begin your journey into motherhood.
After my first son was born I remember thinking "Wow look at all this great free stuff. I won't have to buy diapers for a month!" I obviously had no idea that one package of newborn diapers would only keep my little ones' ass clean for about 4 days. Where DOES all that poop come from?
Anyway, I was also really excited to get free formula. I had anticipated nursing my son until I went back to school, but it was nice to know that on sleepless nights my mom could take a shift with the bottle.
The days of being sent home with a goodie bag from sponsoring formula companies may be numbered, as many hospital are moving away from providing those products to new moms. A recent study from Pediatrics magazine found that over a quarter of hospitals no longer give out formula.
With the amount of research that shows "breast is best", hospitals have begun to support that trend by not handing out breast milk substitutes. Studies from the CDC show that women who are sent home with formula are less likely to exclusively breast feed, especially if they are first time moms.
For many women breast feeding can be a scary undertaking. Something that was once only touched for pleasure, is now being suckled constantly by a tiny, adorable leech. Once you get past that fact, you assume that the process will be easy. But for those who have experienced being engorged, swollen nipples, an under producing milk supply or even bleeding, salvation comes from soothing your hungry baby by any means possible. Women, who have had difficulty, would argue that those samples were crucial to getting them through the first few days at home.
Though the choice should be available to all women, I applaud the hospitals who refuse to bombard mothers with extreme marketing tactics thinly veiled in pink or blue gift bags. Being sent home with formula can provide women with an easy way to give up on breastfeeding.
We need encouragement during those first few days at home; its an adjustment for us and our baby. We also need to be less critical of ourselves if feeding doesn't go exactly as planned. A group like the La Leche League can be a wonderful support system for mothers who are struggling or those who want to find camaraderie with other breast feeding moms. If a baby is undernourished or there is a severe medical condition, hindering a woman from breast feeding, then formula can be a suitable substitute. However, that should be determined by researching products and talking to your physician, not greedy formula companies.
Do you think hospitals should give out formula samples?
Being Milked in Boyland,