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Sunday, January 08, 2006 

Ending the Formula Cycle

A Massachusetts hospital is ending its Hospital Gift Bag program to encourage breastfeeding.
Thank Goodness. While it is nice to get free things, when you become pregnant you are bombarded by the formula companies. They send you free samples, coupons, freebies anything to get your infant hooked (and you convinced it is easier and just as good to bottlefeed). It is kinda crazy. If they didn't give out so much free stuff and coupons maybe the moms who really have to use formula wouldn't have to pay as much. I threw away so many cans of formula. But, even I the staunch breastfeeder, kept one around (just in case). So, can you imagine the temptation to a new mom who is having a bit of difficulty getting started breastfeeding?
Although hospitals can continue to give formula to new mothers, the gift bags -- which were part of a marketing program developed by formula makers... "implied an endorsement of formula by hospitals,"
Well, if the nurses are handing you bags of formula as you leave - you're right - I'm gonna think it is an endorsment of using formula. So, I am glad they decided to stop this practice. It just makes good sense.
Donna Rheaume, a spokesperson for the MDPH, characterized the ban as a means to promote breastfeeding, citing the health benefits of breastfeeding -- which include fewer ear infections, less gastrointestinal illnesses, and fewer respiratory problems for infants as well as a reduced risk of ovarian and breast cancer in women. Rheaume added that if a woman decides to use formula instead of breastfeeding her infant, "that choice is going to be supported, as well."
Now - more hospitals need to follow suit and they need to hire more lactation consultants!