New York City’s public hospital system announced this morning that it is no longer supplying free baby-formula samples in the gift bags it provides to new mothers.
Instead, the new mothers will each be given a breast-milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and a baby T-shirt with the slogan “I Eat at Mom’s” emblazoned on the front. Breastfeeding coaches will accompany the mothers at bedside “to help initiate breastfeeding within one hour of delivery.” The hospital agency will also give out free breast pumps and make available hospital-grade electric breast pumps to mothers whose newborns have to remain in the hospital.
Not everyone is pleased with the campaign. One mom described the complications that followed her emergency Caesarean section:
I think of the other stories I’ve heard from friends who decided to bottle-feed their infants. Some are victims of abuse who remain too uncomfortable with their bodies to breast-feed. Some needed to return immediately to a job at which it was impossible to pump or store milk. Some needed to supplement breast milk with formula as they recovered from the delivery. For many of us, bottle-feeding is an important option.
Bottle feeding versus breastfeeding is a personal choice, and the implication that distributing free formula samples promotes “laziness” in new moms is ridiculous. 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.
Denying women formula samples also seems cruel from a socioeconomic standpoint. Formula is expensive, and samples are a tremendous help to many women — single moms and those with low incomes, in particular.
I see her point, but breast milk is free. It is the best choice for those who are in a lower income bracket plus the kits include a breast pump.
In the end, it is the mother’s choice. Hospitals just don’t want moms to be swayed by convenience.
Nearly 21,000 babies are born in the city’s 11 public hospitals each year. About 24 percent of the mothers of those children leave the hospital exclusively breastfeeding, up from less than 15 percent just one year ago. The city’s goal is to triple that proportion by the year 2010.
“Hospitals don’t normally give things anyway,” said Dr. Ruth A. Lawrence, professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine “When they send you home, they don’t give you meds and bandages. This was obviously promote by the formula companies. Free stuff implies an endorsement.”