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Friday, May 18, 2007There's a LOT of buzz running right now in the lactivist world about an op-ed piece in the New York Times. The editorial talks about the recent New York City decision to go "baby-friendly" and to keep hospitals from sending ALL moms home with the obligatory black bag from Similac of Enfamil. It's no surprise to hear that not everyone supports the decision, but the post gets an absolute BASIC fact completely and utterly wrong.
(Now, I want to preface this by reminding new readers that The Lactivist is NOT about formula bashing. In fact, if you want to bash formula or moms that use it, I suggest you go elsewhere. This site supports breastfeeding by uplifting nursing moms, not by tearing down formula feeding ones. So let's address this issue with that in mind please and avoid any comments about the author's choice to formula feed.)
Take this quote from the story:
By Day 4 in the hospital, I was a wreck from the pain of the C-section and from trying to nurse with cracked, bleeding nipples that weren't producing milk. The nurses were encouraging and patient with my attempts to breast-feed, but I ultimately decided to bottle-feed my daughter.
The formula samples were a godsend. As a first-time mom who was intending to breast-feed, I had not thought to have formula waiting at home. The perfectly measured samples got us through the first sleepless days until we could get our acts together to buy formula.
Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but even in the "first sleepless days" of motherhood, I could have found a way to run to CVS to buy formula if I'd needed it. (And I live in a village of 3500 people...not in "the city that never sleeps.")
With Caesarean rates skyrocketing in New York City (some hospitals have a nearly 40 percent rate of Caesarean delivery), formula often becomes a necessary part of the equation.
It bothers me that she seems to assume that c-sections and formula must go hand in hand. Granted, there are much higher formula feeding rates for moms that have c-section for a wide variety of reasons...but a c-section in no way makes formula NECESSARY.
Whether bottle-feeding is voluntary or has been dictated by circumstance, neither the government nor the medical establishment should try to manipulate a woman's decision by withholding samples that formula manufacturers are more than happy to provide.
Umm... I agree. The medical establishment should not try to manipulate a woman's decision. Unfortunately, that's exactly what happens when doctors and nurses hand mom a bag of formula and says "Brand X is the best formula" all while watching mom sit there with baby happily nursing away.
Hospitals and government alike should support a mother’s right to decide what is best for her and her child, be it breast-feeding or bottle-feeding. So go ahead, give out the free formula samples: it’s a nice gift, especially on Mother’s Day.
Just. Doesn't. Get. It.
So with that, let me clarify one very important point.
Mothers that give birth in New York City hospitals can still go home with free formula. They simply have to request it now. (There's also no shortage of free formula to be had from OBs, Peds and company web sites.) It annoys me to continue to read about opposition to the "ban the bags" campaigns that focus on the NEED for free formula. Great, take your free formula, but don't send it home with the moms that don't ask for it.