Twenty-seven New York City hospitals will soon lock up the baby formula in their maternity wards - the latest move to limit access to the free formula that breastfeeding advocates warn discourages new moms from nursing the natural way. According to a new Time magazine report, plenty of hospitals across the U.S. have voluntarily banned this freebie. This summer state leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed a measure urging doctors to stop passing formula, coupons and related swag along to their patients.
The goal: Encourage breastfeeding. But is free formula really the problem? Is it wise to send new moms home without a back-up source of food for their newborns - especially since there’s often too little smart support and skilled lactation advice available for women trying to nurse for the first time?
I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding and nursed my own daughter well past the age of one. I did not breast-feed 100 percent exclusively. I think I managed about 97 percent breast-milk, 3 percent formula. I know, because I agonized over everything that could get in the way. I worried about pacifiers after reading they could interfere with a baby’s desire to nurse (they were never a problem), was tense about the couple of times a week my daughter was fed pumped milk from a bottle while I was at work (also never a problem), and concerned about the rare occasions when my milk hurt her tummy (she had a dairy-protein sensitivity that meant I had to avoid milk, cheese and butter) and I had to feed her a bottle of formula instead.
But I never agonized more than on our first night home from the hospital when some mysterious glitch meant nursing just wasn’t working. Despite hours of trying very hard and getting the mechanics right, we had a very hungry baby on our hands at 4 a.m.