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Formula Handouts Cutting Down Breastfeeding

Do Formula Freebies Affect Your Decision to Nurse?

Schooled to nurse my baby as soon as she arrived, I was also mentally prepared for the possibility that my child may need formula in lieu of or in addition to my breastmilk. The hospital handed me a six–pack of Similac bottles on my way out the door. Luckily, I did not need it as my labor was easy and my babe took to the breast immediately.

But according to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, the free formula handouts that hospitals provide mothers and their newborns are keeping mothers from breastfeeding longer term. The study said:

The formula filled care packages had a dramatic impact on patterns of breastfeeding. Women who received the packs were 39 percent more likely to stop exclusive breastfeeding at 10 weeks or sooner than those who didn’t receive free formula, according to the report.

Did the handouts from your hospital encourage you to stop nursing and start using formula?

buch1979 buch1979 9 years
No the freebies didn't influence my decision to not nurse. The fact that the NICU nurses started bottle feeding him making it next to impossible to transition back to breast. Trust me, we (lactation consultant & I) tried everything. Maybe I'll try again with the one on the way. The freebies were awesome once formula was a bit of a necessity.
macgirl macgirl 9 years
With my first son 9 years ago I received the free case of formula in the mail and took some home from the hospital despite the fact that I was breastfeeding. This time there were NO free samples. Not in the mail and not from the hospital. If anything I felt more pressure to breastfeed this time around- maybe it was me projecting on them as I was really focused on getting the latch right this time and making it past 6 weeks. While breast may be best I'm thankful that there are options when things don't go right. My choice that led me to formula after 7 weeks of giving breastmilk had nothing to do with advertising, and everything to do what was right for my baby.
ladybugrenee ladybugrenee 9 years
i found it VERY tempting to give up breastfeeding, it was like waving crack in front of an addict. i had the HARDEST time getting started with breastfeeding and had bleeding nipples and the fatigue made matters worse of course. now 6 weeks in, im PROUD of myself for hanging in there, but let me tell you, my husband and i threw that can of formula around at each other quite a few times! i just keep focusing on "breast is best!"
Kimmba-K Kimmba-K 9 years
My son was born 6 weeks premature, and at a birth weight of 4lbs. 6 oz. he had practically no suck reflex. I pumped for a month to give him the best I could, but after that had to return to my blood pressure medication. Formula samples had no bearing on my decision to not breast feed. When my daughter was born, I had preeclampsia and was put on anticonvulsants for a month. I was devastated that I wasn't going to be able to give her the same leg up as her older brother in the immune department. But after seeing how well my son thrived on formula, it didn't matter =P As long as the child is healthy and thriving, it really shouldn't matter what they are being fed. It is really a personal choice, and women should stop being made to feel like failures because they cannot or do not want to breastfeed.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
Glad to hear you are moving ahead, faery! I hope you don't have progesterone in oil--I hear that's a nightmare! I had the new formulation and it was SO much easier, so I was lucky. But I had to do the progesterone for the entire first trimester and man, even though it was relatively easy, did my butt hurt by the end! The stomach shots weren't bad at all, though. It was the price tag that nearly killed me. Each injection cost $200. Oy. Anyhow, good luck with it all! I'll probably be doing it again next year.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
Upon further reading- I agree with Greggie. Moms who indicate that they want samples should be given them. Moms who indicate that they don't want them, shouldn't have them pushed on them. I told the hospital both times that I wished to exclusively breastfeed, and both times I a large bag of formula samples brought to my hospital room. I told them I was breastfeeding, and didn't need them (the second time, when I was a bit more savvy about it), and the nurse told me that they give formula samples to everyone, and that I shouldn't turn them down because I might change my mind.
Bookish Bookish 9 years
It nearly did for us. I had decided to breastfeed but had no support structure, had never seen anyone do it before, the works. So at the end of the first week, I was upset because I hadn't gotten the hang of it, the baby was crying because he was hungry and frustrated, I was crying because I was hurting and frustrated, my husband goes and gets the huge bag of formula samples the hospital sent home with us (even some already prepared in sealed bottles- ready to use with nipples and everything), takes the baby out of my arms, pops a bottle of formula in his mouth, and the baby miraculously stops crying. I hadn't planned on using formula, and didn't want to. Had I not been quite as stubborn as I am, that probably would have been it- I'd have given up on breastfeeding. We stuck it out, and it worked- I nursed him for 13 months- but it was a near thing. I'm not a fan of formula giveaways. When I had my second child, I left the samples at the hospital.
fjaril fjaril 9 years
I actually save up all the coupons they send and offer them to moms on a local baby board. I donated all the samples to children shelters. I'm doing fine with breast feeding and felt no pressure from all the stuff they give you. But it's great if you have trouble or can't breast feed since you have a variety of things to try and find one that works.
faerymagick15 faerymagick15 9 years
schnappycat, thx! Everything is progressing, slowly...LOL. Had my final consult today, I have a small cyst that is delaying us another 2 weeks. No big deal, but then the embryologist that is supposed to do the PGD is out of town for a month in June. So, I won't start meds til mid June and then retrieval and transfer will be first week of July. I did get to learn all about the injections I will be doing today though...that progesterone needle was a big BIG for my taste!! Luckily I only have to do that one for 5 days.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
Yeah, faery, the nurses in the nursery that first night after I had my son actually called me at 3 AM to ask if it would be ok to give him a pacifier (and actually I had no idea--I hadn't thought about it!). They were very respectful of my wishes. Hope your IVF cycle is going ok!
faerymagick15 faerymagick15 9 years
i did not breastfeed either of my children for reasons I will not get into, but i was asked when I delivered both of them whether i was breastfeeding or formula feeding and I was asked if i wanted my babies to take a pacifier. The nurses did not push anything or try to "sell" me on formula or on breastfeeding either. I think they just respected my decisions. Which is all a new mother needs. Formula samples wouldn't bother me now if I decide to breastfeed my next child(hopefully our IVF will work). I already made up my mind to try to BF...BUT...I will NOT beat myself up if nursing doesn't work out. I will be happy to have some free samples just in case. And for me, and only me, it isn't going to make me try any less harder to BF knowing I have formula samples available.
nomnomnom nomnomnom 9 years
no the free unsolicited formula hand outs that arrived at my house made me even more resolved to be successful with breast feeding and to not use them. i will however donate them to a womens shelter or other organization that will use them.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
I just typed up a big response and lost it all when lilsugar somehow reset itself. I don't think my laptop can accomodate all the additional stuff on here. *lol* Anywho, I was saying... I have no problem at all with doctors and hospitals handing out samples on request. I think it's a great thing, in fact. If a mom wants to formula feed, refusing her available samples is pretty crappy. What I don't like is when they're automatically given to every patient, but that's the fault of the hospital/doctor, not the formula company. The trend here seems to be asking the patient how they plan to feed, and then supporting it. Don't push breastfeeding, don't push formula feeding. What I truly dislike is how Motherhood sells its email list to formula companies, and then the formula companies send unsolicited samples. They have no way of verifying the pregnancy and birth, for starters. A friend of mine lost her baby during childbirth, and came home to a mailbox full of samples, which then kept coming at regular intervals even though they requested to be taken off the list. I'm sure she's not the first to be spammed with samples that just remind her over and over of what she's lost.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
Jennifer, I was given free Medela stuff at the hospital when I had to pump because of BFing issues I was having. I got a whole bag of BFing supplies and was introduced to the pump, which led me to decide to rent a pump on my way home from the hospital and pump for a few weeks. So honestly, if it hadn't been for that, I might have given up totally on BFing and not have pumped at all and my son would have gotten no breast milk, instead of the 4 weeks he did. My hospital had formula samples, which I gladly took when it was clear that BFing wasn't working out as the sole feeding method for me (I did both for awhile). However, they didn't push it, but were very supportive of any decision I made. When I asked for a lactation consultant, one came quickly. When I wanted to try pumping, they helped with that. When I decided to supplement with formula, I had that option. The nurses and doctors certainly didn't push anything on me. It was always my choice. And like duck duck said, if I had been adamant about only nursing from the get go, the formula there certainly wouldn't have changed my mind. The formula my son is on now is over $50/week, so I will happily accept whatever samples I can get at the pediatrician's office.
jennifer76 jennifer76 9 years
I knew it! Honestly, I'm surprised that hospitals are willing to participate in the formula companies' marketing - in any company's marketing. But, if they're going to, I would love to see breastfeeding product companies like Medela jump in and market similarly. I don't suppose they could since formula companies just need to hook parents who will then have to continue to buy formula. Medela gives away a nursing bib and there's no weekly nursing bib purchase follow through. ;)
RosaDilia RosaDilia 9 years
No, did not discouraged me at all. I breast fed my son until he was 5 months old only because he was becoming more fidgety everytime a breasfed. I started the formula when he was about 8 months old because I couldn't pump anymore and most of the formula were freebies I always got at his pediatrician's office.
schnappycat schnappycat 9 years
Well said, duck duck.
duck-duck-goose duck-duck-goose 9 years
I don't expect that formula samples affect mothers that are passionately, firmly committed to nursing *and* who have a strong support system of other nursing moms as well as access to a lactation consultant. I think the samples most notably affect women who struggle with very difficult challenges as they attempt to nurse. It would serve as quick relief to those ladies who have tried their very hardest but are still unable to sucessfully nurse, or who have no experienced women who are immediately available to assist them with practical persistent help. Also, the availability of samples might easily influence women who think that formula is *not* merely a poor substitute for breast-milk, but is a reasonably suitable and sufficiently nutritious alternative to the ideal. These women needn't feel bad about their inclination to formula feed, because they fundamentally do not agree that formula-feeding is tantamount to toxic poisoning. Of course, samples are most beneficial to those parents who have already chosen to exclusively formula-feed as well as those mothers who have conditions that disallow safe and proper nursing. Parenthood is expensive; samples can take the edge off the financial hurt, if only for brief moment.
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
YAY they did!!!
kikidawn kikidawn 9 years
I am very set on breastfeeding while still understanding that something could not work out and I would have to bottle feed (if that happened hopefully I would be able to pump). So, no, I don't think it would affect me. I like Greggie's idea of donating it. I hope to BF and pump too so that I can have the ability to let my SO, mom, etc feed her/him if they want to. And also be able to go places w/out him/her if need be. Anniekim when I first read that about your daughter taking the bottle I read it as "14 oz bottle" instead of "one 4 oz bottle" ... freaked me out a little! lol I was like 14 oz?! really?! :ROTFL: ... hopefully those italics turned out right....I don't know exaclty how to do that.
anniekim anniekim 9 years
I think these samples do encourage formula feeding. My oldest daughter exclusively breastfed and I gave away the samples we were given. She refused ever to take a bottle (formula or expressed breastmilk). My 2nd daughter took 1 4oz. bottle of formula a day(at bedtime)because of the difficulty we all experienced with my oldest's refusal to take a bottle ever. The samples certainly made it easier to get into the formula habit. If not for them I might have been more likely to pump. If I had needed to buy those 1st few bottles/cans of formula and really looked at the price? Now I'm someone whose opinion of formula quality is fairly poor and still used it some. If formula is your only option no need to feel any qualms, but if nursing is going well? Freebies are always tempting, I think.
Greggie Greggie 9 years
No. Actually the more I'm around formula, the more determined I am not to use it. But I can certainly see why it would harm a breastfeeding relationship. A lot of women turn to it to supplement without needing to, because doctors and formula companies push it as necessary. Our local hospitals no longer automatically give out free samples, which I love. When I had my first two, formula was pushed immediately after birth. With my third, they had switched to giving breastfeeding education classes to all the OB nurses so that if a mother wanted to breastfeed, they were able to not only encourage and support, but be a huge help as well. And if a mother didn't want to eastfeed, that was when the samples were handed out. I normally ask for the samples to give to our sitter and to donate to local women's shelters.
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