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Wednesday, August 01, 2007If you had your baby in a hospital, chances are pretty darn high that you headed home with a black diaper bag packed with a tiny paper guide to breastfeeding, a ton of flyers for baby stuff and a couple containers of free formula. If you had your baby where I had Elnora, you may have gone home with a garbage bag (literally) of ready-to-feed Enfamil as well.
Lactivist reader Esmerelda points out that if you plan on having your baby in a hospital in New York City, you'll be heading home with something different now...
According to the New York Post, you'll be heading home with:
...a tote bag stuffed with disposable nursing pads, a mini-cooler for breast-milk bottles, and pint-sized T-shirts for the babies that proudly declare "I eat at mom's."
(Oh, how I wish I'd got the contract on the eat at mom's shirt...LOL)
The Ban the Bags movement isn't new, but it is nice to see New York City signing on. In fact, city health officials are going beyond simply banning the free formula hand outs and are working hard to promote breastfeeding.
"Nationally, there has been a push to return to breast-feeding," said Dr. David Garry, director of obstetrics at Jacobi Hospital in The Bronx. "Human milk is still the best for newborn babies."
Jacobi made the push for 100 percent breast milk in 2005 and now says 25 percent of 2,200 babies born at the hospital each year are breast-fed.
"We are pushing to make sure all women know all the benefits of breast-feeding," Garry said.
It's important to note that any mother who requests formula will still receive it.
Not surprisingly, the formula companies aren't happy about the move...
The infant-formula industry said it supports encouraging more breast-feeding, but is opposed to banning distribution of product samples.
Duh. As if they'd dance with joy while shouting "Thank you for limiting our ability to become the brand of choice for a mom who turns to our samples in desperate frustration!"
Personally, I'm thrilled at the move. While I fully support a mother's right to receive formula for her baby the moment she asks for it, I find the act of sending formula home with every mom to be ridiculous.
Yes, you can donate the formula if you don't want to use it. I donated the free formula I accumulated after Elnora was born (I added it up, it would have fed her for more than two months). That said, study after study shows that moms who go home with those free formula samples breastfeed for shorter periods of time. No big surprise there. The formula companies aren't giving out samples to be nice, they're doing it because they have carefully researched the impact on their bottom line.
Formula is a choice that any mom can make, but any mom that chooses formula should do so knowing full well that it is not the BEST option. You wouldn't expect your cardiologist to tell you about the benefits of a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables and then send you home with a coupon for a free Big Mac Extra Value Meal on the premise of "free choice," would you? Why should pediatricians be any different when it comes to the nutritional needs of our babies?
ETA: I'm curious to hear if any readers caught The View this morning. I hear through the grapevine that they discussed the ban this morning and were quite unhappy with it. The hosts claimed that it stifles "free choice" and said the government was going "too far" to push certain ideals.
Can't say it's a huge surprise to me. Barbara Walters isn't exactly synonomous with "breastfeeding advocacy" and Elizabeth Hasslebeck is a paid spokesperson for Ultra Bright Beginnings Infant Formula.
I've checked and no transcript of the show is available yet, so I'd love to hear input from anyone who saw it.