Just Ridiculous: Giving New Mothers Formula Is Like Giving Trying-to-Quit-Smokers Cigarettes

“A ‘gift’ of formula is like a ‘gift’ of a pack of cigarettes when you’re trying to quit smoking; it will undermine your resolve,” says Peggy O’Mara, editor-in-chief of Mothering magazine.

O’Mara made the comment in support of the fact that Massachusetts has become the second state in the country whose hospitals ban free formula gifts to new moms, in an effort to force encourage moms to breastfeed. Her remarks were excerpted in a TIME magazine article about the formula ban and the Mitt Romney connection (see the article for more on that).

I had to read O’Mara’s remarks three times–was she making a terrible joke? How could she seriously compare formula to cigarettes? It’s incredibly offensive for so many reasons.

For starters, I gave my baby formula, so how dare she even suggest a connection between a toxic cancer-causing product and a nutrient-rich food. I didn’t throw in the towel on breastfeeding because the hospital sent me home with a few free samples. In fact, I transitioned Mason to formula after I struggled for weeks to breastfeed. I finally confessed my anxieties to our pediatrician and he told me to let go of the guilt and switch to a specific brand of formula. He insisted that Mason would be just fine. And you know what? He was absolutely right.

O’Mara is also suggesting that moms lack free will. Using her logic, grocery stores should never offer free samples because some shoppers might be on a diet and the freebies might weaken their resolve to avoid snacking between meals.

It’s ridiculous.

I’m also appalled that Rhode Island and Massachusetts instituted the ban in the first place. Why should the government have that right? And what about moms who can’t breastfeed their babies for health reasons?

Take my twin sister, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis about a decade ago. She gave up her MS meds while she was pregnant, because the particular drug she was taking had been proven harmful to a growing baby, and by 30 weeks her symptoms were so bad I was afraid for her. However, Erin insisted that she would not go back on her medication–nor would she seek an early induction–because she was determined to give birth to a healthy baby girl.

When asked by her ob-gyn whether she was taking a breastfeeding class, Erin explained that her neurologist was urging her to go back on her MS medications immediately after the birth due to her declining health, and therefore she wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. Instead of being supportive, her doctor gave her grief about formula feeding and pressured her to delay taking her medication. Erin called me crying after the appointment, and I told her to ignore the b*tch.

Erin’s efforts paid off and she gave birth to a healthy baby girl at 41 weeks. Fortunately she listened to her neurologist and started her shots, along with an aggressive steroid infusion, immediately after she delivered her baby. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough: Erin had a massive relapse shortly after Natalie was born and was paralyzed for weeks. Imagine what kind of shape she’d be in if she had given in to the pressure to breastfeed.

When did breastfeeding become a tool for bullying?

Photo: Mother feeding a baby a bottle via mathom/Shutterstock.com

111 thoughts on “Just Ridiculous: Giving New Mothers Formula Is Like Giving Trying-to-Quit-Smokers Cigarettes

  1. Breastfeeding is certainly best, and if it can happen, good for mom and baby. But there are times when it simply can’t—and to make parents feel guilty because illness and medications, or other extenuating circumstances make it impossible is horrendous. The moms feel guilty enough. No need for everyone else to pile on the pain!

  2. I’m with you. Breast is best? Sure. But “best” doesn’t mean “only thing that works.” My husband and his sisters, all exceptionally bright athletes, were formula-fed. His mother, an exceptionally bright athlete now in her 70s, was formula-fed. I got a combination. Our daughter got some breast milk but mostly formula becausee that’s how I could feed her.

    I have no time for idealogues, no matter what the topic.

  3. I am offended to hear that formula is considered so evil that it needs to be banned. I too had a medical reason. My daughter was premature and my milk came in slow and low. By three weeks I had nothing left for milk so I had no choice but formula, and now 5 years later my daughter is healthy and is where she needs to be development and growth wise.

    Now I have a second baby and I breastfed him as long as he would take it, but I stressed about it cause he always wanted more and all the nurses and health care workers just told me to deal with it, until I saw my family doctor and he said he didn’t want me going through postpartum all over breast feeding, so when my son refused to take the breast anymore he was moved onto formula.

    I have another friend that has had two children via C-section and couldn’t sustain milk without pain and difficulty and she so wanted to breast feed. So both of her kids are formula.

    I do get angry with mom’s that have ample breast milk and choose not to breast feed because of their own reasons, and that’s because I would have loved to been able to provide that for my children.

    No matter what though it should always be the mother’s right to choose as long as they have all the information they need.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you! I delivered my children at a “baby friendly” hospital which basically meant that formula was not automatically given and you had to request it if needed and sign a form stating that you had requested it and understand that breastfeeding was best. I was told by the lactation nurse that I would have to supplement due to my supply issues yet signing that form still made me feel guilty for not producing enough milk for my children. Why is breastfeeding vs. formula such a public discussion? It should be a personal decision made by the mother after the proper education is given and not a guilt ridden decision!

  5. I think this is completely ridiculous!! I was very dedicated to breast feeding my son for six months before we switched to formula, but our first nigh home from the hospital I panicked because he wasn’t latching and gave him a formula bottle. It did not derail my breast feeding efforts. It just helped me sleep when I was panicked and racked by post-partum hormones. Give me a break. I agree that some breast feeding advocates are becoming bullies. Just live and let live! You don’t have to breast feed for a year plus to be a good mother.

  6. I had to use a combination of breastmilk and formula and finally stopped pumping when my boys were 2 months old. No woman should be made to feel like a failure if breastfeeding does not come naturally or does not work for them. It is such a personal decision and I am offended that anyone would think a sample of formula would make me stop breastfeeding. Mothers choose what is best for them and their child and should never feel guilt or pressure to do something society wants them to.

  7. First time around, I discarded all the samples I received thinking I’d NEVER give them to my child. Due to breastfeeding challenges and some medication I needed to take, I had to throw in the towel at 9 months. My daughter several years later is just fine. Second time around, I gladly accepted those samples, and kept them in our pantry just in case. Having the formula on hand, knowing I could provide for my baby’s needs come what may took away so much pressure. I kept thinking I needed to save that one can for a rainy day, and eventually a year passed with it still residing on the shelf.
    I have to confess that I breastfed my first daughter mostly out of guilt. Second time around, I was more relaxed about breastfeeding (and everything else), and that made it possible for me to breastfeed #2 for over a year.

  8. While I feel that breast feeding is best I have to say that they formula is not free at least not in NC. They bill it to your insurance and they pay for it. I think moms need to be given the choice of which one they want to do.

  9. Thats terrible! I didnt breast feed my daughter and she is perfectly healthy and happy. Its not right to try to make people do something that might not be right for them. Every woman has the right to choose what is best for her and her baby, if she wants to bottle feed then she should be entitled to and she should get any help that the hospital can offer.

  10. I think breast feeding should be an indivisual thing.I tried to breast feed my oldest son and it did not work my milk was nto good for him. So we had to go to bottle and formula. I can say when my grandson was born my daughter in law did not want to breast feed, the nurses treated her very badly and were really rude to her.I feel if a woman want to breast feed then she should do so, but if she choose not to does not mean she is a bad mother.

  11. This article OUTRAGES me. It’s people like this who make breastfeeding mama’s look bad. That whole “breast is best” mentality drives me insane. What about those of us who physically COULD NOT breastfeed? What about those of us with infants with severe jaundice and no milk supply to feed them? Is she saying that we are poisoning our children because we had to supplement formula to keep our child healthy? Each woman is entitled to her own decisions and should be able to choose what is best for her family. We’re willing to let women choose whether to abort their baby’s or not, but we can’t let her decide if breastfeeding is right for her?

  12. while i breastfeed myself i dont think its right to stop giving away the milk.we are in a time that they want mothers to breastfeed but yet people get offended if your feeding your child in public. i use breastfeeding shirts but why cover up the child if its like 98 degrees outside and your child has to sweat because people dont like seeing that. would you eat under a scarf? or a bathroom? its hard to do so in public but yet they want to stop giving away milk. sometimes a new mom needs some to get thru the first few days.

  13. I totally agree with you. It’s a disgusting, horrible comparison that is just totally unacceptable. We were dead set on breastfeeding with my daughter, and after three days of supposedly doing it correctly, we found out at our lactation consultant appointment that our daughter was literally not getting a single drop of breastmilk while nursing. And do you know what she did? She pulled out a bottle of formula and fed her. Because our daughter was HUNGRY, and breastfeeding was not cutting it. We tried for weeks and weeks before we had to agree that it simply was not working. I pumped for weeks after that, but our little one would not have grown the way she did without the formula we gave her. No one should be trying to make mothers feel guilty for the way they nourish their child. Period. My daughter is perfectly healthy, happy, and even big for her age, so I don’t feel that we did anything wrong at all.

  14. I recieved a free can of formula at the hospital. As a breast feeding mom I think its nice to have it in the cuboard in case of emergency. I do not know when I will get sick, or if I will have to be away from my baby for an extended period of time. Plus, when/if i need to supliment I will already have a can or 2..if I need not use it at all, GREAT! I will simply give it to a mom who will use it. No harm done by giving a mom free formula at the hospital.

  15. I think all women should try to breastfeed and from what I’ve seen, a lot of women don’t. When I had my daughter, the lactation consultant at the hospital was trying to convince me to put my daughter on formula. I was thinking, “Are you kidding me?”. Well my daughter is 10 months old and has been breastfed since birth and will continue until at least a year. The hospital staff even fed my daughter formula while she was in the nursery when I specifically said I wanted her to only be breastfed. They don’t encourage breastfeeding at all. How sad. Breast is best. No need for formula, that’s what breasts are made for. I don’t think formula needs to be handed out.

  16. I cannot believe her stupidity in comparing formula to cigarettes! There are many people out there who cannot breastfed for one reason or another, and for these states to ban the formula is totally stupid! I thried to breatfed but due to my breast and how the were “deformed” i was unable to. I cried and felt bad because I wasnt able to breastfed my two kids! But i did what was BEST for my kids and gave them what they needed. You should not force a woman to breastfed. Each woman’s situation is unque to themselves.

  17. I think that there should be equally valuable gifts for breastfeeding mothers that are not formula. I think that woman choosing to breastfeed shouldn’t be bombarded with items that say “well here in the event that you fail at least you have this!” I think that formula gifts for formula feeding mothers is perfectly acceptable and that there is nothing wrong with formula feeding. Breastfeeding isn’t for everyone and all woman have the right to chose what works best for them. But as a mother who nursed both of my babies it would have been nice to leave the hospital with a free nursing cover or a free pack of breast pads or lanolin ointment, and not formula. I had no use for formula and it made me feel like the formula companies wanted me to fail at my goal of nursing to make their business successful. I feel that the hospitals know a womans choice between breast or bottle and they can have seperate gifts for either choice. If you are a breastfeeind mom you can get a free gift that center’s around breastfeeding and has support information regarding that and the same for formula. I don’t believe that formula should be compared to cigarettes as it is not the same thing but I do believe that breastfeeding moms should get a more appropriate gift.

  18. Thank GOD for those samples! When my daughter wouldn’t latch on night 2, I was grateful that I had them! Personally, I think the analogy used here is pretty disgusting… Comparing providing for the NEEDS of your child to a smoker’s ADDICTION are two very, VERY far off things! As a former smoker, I can confidently say that the two “needs” are TOTALLY different things.. that statement is “apples and oranges!” But, I suppose everyone has a right to “their” opinion… I won’t apologize that MINE happens to be the WELL BEING of my child!

  19. Sometimes ignorance needs to be ignored. With my first, I tried to breastfeed but simply couldn’t get the hang of it after only a month. I switched to formula with ease and my girl is perfectly healthy. My son lasted about 5 months before I switched. If someone doesn’t want to breastfeed simply because they don’t want to, that is completely fine. There is nothing wrong with formula. Think about all the less nutritious foods your child(ren) will eat later in life, and they still will be just fine.

  20. While I agree that the cigarette comparison is a bit offensive. I am all for stopping giving away samples. If you do not want to breastfeed then you can go to the store and buy some. In countries in which they do not send home free samples the rates of breastfeeding are higher. Also you can just contact the company and easily get free samples if you want them. Plain and simple their are so many road blocks to successful breastfeeding why not take away one even such a minor one as free sample; which some women take as the hospital saying formula and breast milk are equal, which they are not.

  21. I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want! You was to breast feed.. great. You want to formula feed…great. I’ve seen mothers, drink alcohol, smoke, eat crappy fast food and then breast feed their child, and I looked down upon because I chose to formula feed? People need to stop being bullies!

  22. Comparing formula to cigarettes is completely ridiculous!!!!! So many Moms want to breastfeed but due to some health issues are unable to or have to supplement. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

  23. Ugh, I hate this breastfeeding is the only way mentality. Sometimes, it just isn’t possible. And yes, there are people who choose to formula feed instead of breast feed but guess what, that is their CHOICE!! My daughter is 9 months old and drinks formula, has since day 1, she is perfectly healthy, hasn’t been sick, never had a diaper rash, has been crawling since about 5.5 months and now is on the verge of walking. Tell me how evil formula is!?! Tell me she is going to be stupid and I will point to my husband, who is one of the smartest people I know, and guess what, was formula fed.

    It is this toxic attitude from women who think they are better than others or know what is best for all that creates so much guilt for other moms. I wish they would just keep their opinions to themselves and step off of their high horse!

  24. This is just ridiculous. Fortunately I am able to breast feed my baby, 8 months going strong, but only after 3 very difficult weeks for both of us. We were sent home with free samples from the hospital plus additional samples from the lactation consultant AND samples from the pediatrician. Although we ended up not needing any of the formula, the most important thing was for my baby to be healthy and if that meant formula that’s what we would have done. There are many reasons women don’t breastfeed, whether it’s a personal choice or a medical reason. It’s no one’s place, certainly not the government, to decide if free samples should be banned. This is just ridiculous and I hope somebody smartens up quickly and ends this.

  25. I disagree because most women have already made up their minds whether they are going to breast or bottle feed before the baby is here. LIke me many women go back o work right away n I also will be in school and have other children so I do not have time to breastfeed.. giving formula may help decide on a formula as well as helping them get off to a good start

  26. I took every sample I could get… when my daughter was 3 weeks old, I had to take some medication that meant I couldn’t nurse for 24 hours– didn’t have enough in the freezer yet, so I had to give formula. My son had only breastmilk until he was 9 months old, but by then was drinking so much I couldn’t keep up and had to supplement. Loved having it available just in case I needed it. Made it much less stressful to nurse, knowing there was something else I could do if I had to.

  27. Although I believe that breastfeeding is best, I think it should be left as a discussion between the individual mother and the child’s pediatrician. I personally had to supplement breastfeeding with formula the first couple weeks after my first child was born. I did not expect it and I was so grateful for the “care package” given to me at the hospital. What a lifesaver! Once my milk supply was established I did not have to purchase formula again. It would be a shame for the hospitals to stop providing this service.

  28. Amen Sister!! I am so tired of people judging me because I only breastfeed for 4 months! It is nice to see an articular like this!

  29. I was given free samples, kept for a few months in case I had trouble then gave them to a friend who had twins and needed to supplement. I am still nursing my 15 month old and never supplemented even though I was given multiple free cans from companies of newborn and baby formula, its silly to think giving it pressures moms, not offering can make it financially harder though! That stuffs crazy expensive! My twin-friend loved all my extra cans!!!

  30. I always wanted to give my kids breastmilk if possible. I think everyone should give it a try if they can. My first I nursed for 18 months. Wonderful, economical, and worth it. My second – 6 years later – I also breastfed. I was happy to do it, but after we were home, there were times I had to endure rather than enjoy my breastfeeding with her to the point where my skin was crawling. I made it 11 months with her and switched to formula. My 3rd – almost 2 years later – was easier to feed again, but only made it about 9 months and switched to formula. I was so thankful to have those samples as a back up for my sitters if my supply wasn’t keeping up or to try out to see if it would work out when we needed to switch. I think our government (and our nurses sometimes) may not have it’s priorities straight all of time. I can understand encouraging, but this seems too much. It’s like the lovely nurse who told me “don’t feel like you failed” as I labored for hours and had to have a c-section. Hey lady, I made a baby. I didn’t fail.

  31. I am currently a breastfeeding mom and feel very strongly about the bonding and nutritional benefits. I don’t understand how people can think that a product that is engineered to act like breast milk is just as good. The fact that I was resilient enough to overcome the hurdles of breastfeeding makes me feel like a stronger person and mother. Yes, it sucks at first, but we are women! I am totally in favor of banning FREE formula, it provides for an easy way out when things get tough. If you truly, truly cannot breastfeed, then go buy your formula, simple as that.

  32. I almost exclusively BF for a year, but was thankful for the free samples. I was not an overproducer, so having the free samples made me much more comfortable that if I wasn’t able to meet my baby’s needs, I had formula available and would not have to make an emergency run to get some. The free samples didn’t even give me a thought that I shouldn’t or wouldn’t BF….I think whatever a mom chooses, is the right thing for their child/family. As a full time working mom, it was a challenge to BF for a full year. Thankfully I was able to hang in there, but it wasn’t easy or without sacrifice.

  33. Gotta disagree. While not everyone may be able to breastfeed, it is in fact, best for the baby. Whether it’s possible or best for the mother is a different story. And I’m not certain how I feel about them banning it, as it seems a bit too big government. However, they can now force health insurance, so why couldn’t they do this?
    That all being said, not giving you free formula isn’t bullying. It’s not giving you something for free. Period.

  34. I completly agree with Autumn! I even received formula cans from my OBGyn before the baby was even born. I really would have appreciated some of those nice cooling gel pads, or maybe a free visit with the lactation consultant instead. From my Dr, it would have been nice to know about BF support groups (I found one from a friend after the fact. I think I succeeded at BF only by luck because my daughter had no issues and latched right away with only a little help from the excellent delivery room nurse. Having said all of that, if folks want formula samples, then they can have them. I gave all of mine to my pregnant students.

  35. While I would not compare formula directly to cigarettes I must say that there are properties of breast milk that formula simply does not have and never will have. These properties provide optimal health for infants up to age two. In most other countries, and for hundreds of years before the industrial revolution in the United States mothers exclusively breastfed for long periods of time. Nobody is saying ban formula, as there are a few medical reasons which make its use nessecary. However, in my opinion, hospitals gifting it to every new mom sends the message that they endorse formula feeding over breast feeding and I do not think this is a good idea. Mothers who need formula and do not have the income for it can get it through WIC and with Food Stamps so it is not a matter of its unavailability for poor women. I do think mothers should be counseled about the protection from illness and even SIDS that breast milk alone offers. I think free lactation consultation visits to new mothers would be a much better “gift” from a hospital so that mothers having a difficult time could get the help they need rather than feeling they must switch to formula. or how about a free nursing bra/cover etc.??

  36. Breast feeding vs formula should be a personal choice/preference. I’m sick of these hospitals/doctors/nurses making woman feel guilty for choosing formula over breast feeding. They make you feel like you’re being bullied. I felt the same pressure with both of my children. My first child I did it for about a month, then went to formula. My 2nd it just dried up so I had to switch. They make you feel like you’re doing something wrong and it’s ridiculous.

  37. Free formula needs to be given to mothers in the hospital. I was grateful for the free formula because I was unable to breast feed my child. This is an options that mothers are given and I think that we should not be forced to breast feed if we do not want to or cant. Look I tried to breast feed but could not produce enough milk for my daughter, it took me over an hour to pump 4oz so I had to stop trying and switch to formula.

  38. When my daughter was born she was jaundiced and the doctor sent us home with formula to feed after nursing until my milk came in. She now won’t take a bottle and is a perfectly healthy little girl. I think it’s time we stop pressuring moms either way. New moms have enough on their plate!

  39. I wanted to formula feed and couldn’t… I tried for weeks… if it wasn’t for that sample of formula I had in my house at 3 am she would have never have eaten. I had breastfeeding complications, formula was the best choice I had to make for her. It didn’t make life any easier and it didn’t help me sleep more. I didn’t feed her out of laziness or lack of trying. People are so judgmental and it’s getting ridiculous that formula feeding moms are being judged so harshly for feeding their children.

  40. This is crazy. When I had my twins 6 weeks early, there was no milk. I thought it was just how early they were. I then had another child a year later and still no milk. It turns out my mother did not produce milk either with 3 of her children. If I was forced to breastfeed, my children would have starved. Although, the idea of “free” milk cracks me up. I do not know about other places, but I delivered in two different hospitals, and on both statements I was charged for the milk.

  41. It should be everyones goal to try since it is best for babies. However I know not everyone can. But in a world where many moms think “breastfeeding is gross” and even fewer understand that thats what boobs are for, breastfeeding moms are far and few in between. People shouldnt be “pressured to breastfeed” However they should know that there is a great community of breastfeeding moms who lend their support like the la leche league and WIC.

  42. The night that I came home from the hospital, my c-section incision opened, and I was in so much pain, that I could not even hold my baby, let alone nurse. Babies are so small and fragile that they cannot afford to skip a meal. Having just a bit of formula really alleviates the panic. However, I do think that some of the formula gifts are also appropriate for breastfeeding mothers. You get little bottles that you can pump into (they absolutely fit the breast pumps!) and a fridge pack with ice packs to transport breast milk bottles.

  43. @Autum- Not all moms choose to be a formula feeding mom… someone (like me) could have no intentions of their baby ever having formula and then have no choice but to give their child formula.

  44. Her analogy was a poor choice though her intentions may be noble. Just as extreme as her analogy to cigarettes is, so is your arguement regarding your sister’s case which I doubt you would find anyone to dispute that her going back to her meds & formula feeding was the right choice.Having breastfed 4 children, maintained a public job, & encountered every possible problem one can have nursing (from low milk supply to severe mastitis many, many times), I feel many women lack the resolve to stick with it. In health cases like your sister’s, absolutely, formula feeding was the best choice, no question Having a healthy mom is best for the baby. The 1st 3 weeks of nursing are tough, excruciating at times. Those of us that choose to tough it out in an effort to do what is best for our babies can’t help but have an opinion about mothers who don’t for no other reason besides it’s difficult. If this new rule forces 50% more women to try to nurse instead of taking the easy way outthen it is worth it.

  45. I think women should have the right to determine what they want to do. We flight to have women’s right in this world and we should have the right to not breastfeed if we do not want to. I did not breastfeed with my first and she has ways less health problems then my second who i did breastfeed. I do not believe one is better then the other. So I believe they should keep them.

  46. People are assuming it is there right to receive free formula in the hospital. That is not the case. Nothing else is free. This ban stops formula companies from advertising their product via the hospital. It seems logical that a hospital, which should ultimately care for the health of mom and baby first, promote health before a product. If you are one of the rare people who know before you go into labor that you can/won’t breastfeed, bring the formula for your child to the hospital with you. Outside of that group of people, the others don’t need it as much as they need support to bf.

  47. It is sad to see how clueless mothers are these days. Hospitals do not give you free formula samples, formula companies are providing them. You will never establish a milk supply if you don’t bf. Formula companies know this, they know they are going to gain customers everytime a free sample is used. Formula was created specifically for when it was medically necessary, a pharmeucutical supplement. and that’s only when it should be used. Once formula companies saw the profits they can consistently make, it was mass marketed to all US mothers as being better than Breastmilk. Gee how did the human race make it this far without it? Another problem with formula companies is they give the same samples to third world countries, which screws up the moms milk supply from the very beginning, and now these poor moms don’t even have a way to feed their babies and become dependent on formula. WAKE UP PEOPLE! Nestle does not care about you or you baby- they just care about making money..

  48. I agree with the women above and the author who were outraged. It is offensive to compare formula feeding to cigarettes and I think the government has no place in banning free samples unless they weant to ban all samples for everything. If a woman feels like she is being discouraged from breast feeding because she got a freebie then she just wasn’t that dedicated or should ask for help. To the women who said they think they don’t like the free samples because BF mom’s didn’t get anyway, well that just sounds childish to me. Furthermore, maybe you just need to find a better OB, my OB and pediatrician provided resources for breast-feeding to me even though I was formula feeding just in case. It is disgusting how mother’s are putting down other mother’s just to feel superior. I fully support all of my BF friends and they should support me. Even if it isn’t medically necessary, formual feeding is a choice a mother has a right to make just like a mother has the right to choose organic or non-organic food for her other children. Some women need to get off their high horse because I’m pretty sure I could find fault with them somewhere.

  49. I don’t feel that hospitals should give as many samples as some hospitals do. One day worth of formula is more than enough. Then you can buy your own if you think that is what is right for you. I am also okay with pediatricians giving out formula to moms that are having trouble breastfeeding. My pediatrician have me free formula when my son wasn’t gaining weight and told me to offer him a bottle after he had finished breastfeeding. I didn’t use the formula until months later when I almost lost my milk from drugs I needed to treat a systemic allergic reaction. I was lucky to be able to produce pump and store enough breast milk to last me through one month of having to pump and toss my milk because I had to take a course of antibiotics and enough to supplement the formula I had to feed my son when I almost my milk. I went down to producing one ounce per day pumping every hour day and night. My nipples blistered, bruised, and bled and for over a week I was a zombie trying to take care of my son and work (and I watched my son while at work- no daycare reprieve for me) and basically no sleep. I understand that there are some people who medically can’t breastfeed, but there are so many more that just give up because formula is easy and the excuse “I can’t” is so widely accepted when it comes to breastfeeding. My son breastfed for 10 1/2 months. I wanted to go a whole year, but I did finally lose my milk from an illness, and as I already said, formula is easy. To all those who were give a rough time about not being able to breastfeed your children even though you tried as hard as you could or couldn’t do it all for medical reasons, that is wrong, and I feel sorry for you. To all the lazy pieces of Crap out there that use work as an excuse, your employer is legally obligated to let you pump every 4 hours. To all those that say “it hurts too much! You don’t understand!”, trust me, I do. And if it still hurts that bad in a month, I’ll support your choice, otherwise don’t tell me you’d do anything for your children or that you want to be a good mom. I don’t believe you.

  50. It absolutely breaks my heart to see fellow mothers say “I didn’t need it, so let other mothers buy their own.” The formula they send home is enough for maybe a dozen feedings or so. I wanted to breastfeed so badly but I wasn’t able to produce enough. I continued to breastfeed, pump, use a supplemental nursing system, and supplements until I switched to formula only; this was only after 8 weeks of feeling intense guilt and depression every time I tried to breastfeed or pump, knowing all the while there was never enough breast milk. If you don’t want the formula, politely decline it when they offer it to you. It’s that simple. Or, take the formula and donate it to your church or local food pantry so women who NEED it, can get it. As for gifts for breastfeeding mothers, the similac pack I received from the hospital came with a freezer pack and cooler for breast milk, as well as three bottles to store breastmilk, among other goodies. Not to mention the various things I was sent home with that were medela products: nipple sheild, breast cups for engorgement, s.n.s (50$ Value), lanolin, etc. I definitely commend the mothers who say “yes, I breastfed, but don’t stop the formula for women who need it.” thank you!

  51. what an awful article!! new moms should not be made to feel guilty b/c they can not or choose not to breastfeed. i had a medical issue that prevented me from breastfeeding. today my 7mo old formula fed baby is happy and healthy. people need to stop being so judgemental. being a new mom is hard enough and we need to support each other and the decisions we make.

  52. I am so sick of these gung-ho people spouting off about how any behavior that veers from their narrow political view of a topic MUST be wrong and MUST be changed. Live and let live; we are not you and do not want to be you.

  53. @holly – that is the most calloused thing I’ve ever read. Who are you to judge a mother for giving formula no matter the reason? I don’t care if it’s even that it might mess up her mani- that is her choice to make.

    What about epidurals? Those are unnecessary. I took no pain meds, not even Tylenol the next day, if I can do all natural everyone else can too. Natural is best, so do away with epidurals. (please note:sarcasm)

  54. I have the mother of a very healthy formula-fed 14 month old daughter. When I has Madeline, I was determined to breastfeed. I tried time and time again, to no avail. She would physically push me away. I met with lactation consultants (don’t get me started on those she-devils) and spent hours crying because I was made (by the lactation consultants) to feel like I was a failure. They suggested that I pump and use this thing called an SNS pump, which is a cylinder with pumped breast milk attached to a small tube that you tape to the end of your finger and the baby drinks from that “to avoid nipple confusion”. We tried this for weeks, an my daughter stopped gaining weight. We were put in the hospital for 3 days on watch for “failure to thrive”. Turns out, my daughter was using every calorie she took in to eat those calories. It was too hard for her to pull milk through that tiny tube. I called my parents from the hospital and told them to bring me a bottle and formula and I was going to feed my child. She’s been on formula ever since. Months after we switched her, I was changing her diaper and she tilted her head back and I noticed the skin that connects her lip to her gums came down all the way between her teeth. This was why she never latched. She couldn’t open her mouth wide enough to. I was made to feel like a failure for something that my child wasn’t physically capable of doing. It is such a shame that breastfeeding has become such an issue that states would ban the gift of formula samples. Let mothers make the choice for themselves, or in my case, let the baby.

  55. Ok, this is just ridiculous!! I had a c-section with my first and had an anaphilactic reaction to the antibiotics and was intibated and in the ICU for four days after. My baby had no choice but to be given formula!!! I still pumped to help my milk come in while intibated and in the ICU but due to all the meds i was on anything i got was not usable. And if formula was banned at the hospital m baby would have starved!!!! It is sooooo the parents decision and the government needs to focus on more relevant issues! It took me 7 weeks to get my baby to breastfeed full time and I had to supplement with pumped milk and FORMULA!! No matter how you are able to feed your baby shouldn’t matter as long as he/she is growing and developing from the nourishment you are providing! AHHHHHHH! This just makes me want to scream! Leave the decision to the new mom! She has enough to worry and stress about without BULLIES pressuring her about formula! GRRRRRRRRR!

  56. People are crazy…..who cares how a mom chooses to feed her child. Be it breast or formula. At least the baby is being fed for Pete’s sake. And to say formula is worse well I beg to differ. I breastfed and I’m happy about it but what about the mommy’s who have physical/mental/emotional reasons for not breast feeding. And for that matter what do they feed the adopted newborns? I’m fairly sure not all adoptive mommy or daddy’s produce breastmilk….unless I failed to learn something in biology.

  57. I had TRIPLETS at 35 weeks and had to have 2 rounds of steroid shots so their lungs would develop enough to, you know, BREATHE. This ultimately delayed my milk (which after three months of pumping vs. sleeping, never came in enough to feed ONE child, let alone THREE.) But as far as I know, you have to breathe in order to eat, so what was I supposed to do? Let them slowly starve to death?

    These people are sanctimonious MORONS who won’t have a CLUE until they’re directly in the position of folks they’ve never given a second thought about.

  58. It makes me sad to see how many moms, even on the comments of this article (and I read every single one), can’t support their fellow women in the right to make their own CHOICE. I desperately wanted to be able to breast feed my beautiful daughter. After weeks of trying, I finally had to give in to formula. I tried so many times but she was so small and having difficulty latching on. We even went to a lactation consultant several times to try to get help. But my child wasn’t getting anywhere near enough to eat and the doctors were very concerned about his much weight she lost just in the few days we were in the hospital. I tried for several weeks even to pump and give her bm that way, but I simply did not produce enough. I was devastated. I cried for says in anguish about not being able to give my baby bm because I wanted to so badly. And for those people on here who say women who don’t bf just don’t try hard enough- you don’t know everyone’s situation. You can not speak for what I went through and how I felt when I couldn’t produce for my child. But now she is a beautiful 7 month old who is doing just fine and is very advanced for her age. And to think she’s a formula fed baby. It may not be the way nature intended, but obviously things worked out more than okay.

  59. I got free formula when I was in hospital also got some coupons off of some websites I was on. I did breastfeed till both my children were 6 months and at that point it got too hard to pump at work, so I did switch to formula. Some people can’t breastfeed. Getting free samples doesn’t make a women decide to use formula. sometimes it is the best for child and mother.

  60. Wow. In some cases handing out formula is better than a mother breastfeeding. For instance, if a mother doesn’t eat nutritionally enough to make breast milk worth anything. Or if the mother is a smoker or drinks. I’m not saying that is right but there are some people who’s breast milk is probably not qualified as “best” for the child. These people also probably don’t have the funds for formula and those samples probably help those babies stay healthy.

  61. I’ve breastfed all 5 of my children, and the free goodie bags from the formula companies DID NOT persuade my decision either way! I loved the goody bags, because it made a nice addition to my pumping supplies, since it was often a small insulated bag or diaper bag, often had ice packs in them for keeping my freshly pumped milk cold, sometimes even a couple of 4 oz bottles with lids. As for the can of formula, I either gave it to someone who needed it, or kept it for “emergencies”, when I wasn’t around to feed one of my babies, or was low on my freezer stock of breast milk, etc. If a woman is so swayed by a goody bag of free stuff that she decides to formula feed instead of breastfeed just because of the goody bag, then it’s her fault, not the formula company’s. The companies offer a choice between a goody bag for breastfeeding moms, or those who choose to use formula, at least they did when I received them. My goodness, who doesn’t love free stuff?!? This just sounds like another attempt by the government to force us into making “healthy choices”. If we aren’t given the freedom to choose for ourselves, it’s not really a choice, is it?!? I don’t need the government telling me how to feed my family, or myself, thank you very much!!!

  62. Gift packs are not being banned to force mothers to breastfeed. Mothers who need to, or choose to, feed formula are not being prevented from doing so. They are provided with formula to feed their babies in the hospital just the same as they were before. Families can still get freebies and samples by signing up via the company of their choice’s website, or any number of parenting magazines that include advertising cards that families can simply mail in. Samples and gift packs are being banned because hospitals should be marketing health, and health only. It is not the place of a hospital, physician’s office, or health clinic to market formula for multi-billion dollar businesses that can do the job just fine on their own. Wouldn’t you rather have access to unbiased information about formula, and even which brand of formula you would like to use (by the way, all formulas have to maintain the same minimum standards per the FDA)? It is true that formula marketing undermines breastfeeding. It is true that patients benefit when medical professionals are not swayed by advertising and advertising dollars (see nofreelunch.org) Wouldn’t you rather your physician recommend a formula based on nutritional profile, rather than what freebies the company can offer their patients and what perks they can offer their facility for handing out said freebies? It is also true that formula manufacturers can market all they like, and that includes providing you (the consumer) with freebies. The only difference in Rhode Island, Maryland, and individual hospitals and birth centers that are certified Baby-Friendly is that your physician and nurse won’t be choosing which samples you receive. You can choose to sign up for “baby clubs” with as many formula companies as you choose. Your physicians and nurses will also not be swayed by marketing that is targeted towards them (such as free lunches, “nutrition education”, pens, badge holders, crib cards, growth charts, and even bigger things such as vacations for giving away the most free bags!). Hospitals didn’t always market formula. This is a relatively new practice, and one that research has proven time and time again that does harm for both individual families and the larger society (including the cost of formula–someone has to pay for the bags and their contents!). I honestly don’t see why parents are so angered about marketing being limited from manufacturer to consumer rather than from physician to patient. To me, it seems like a much fairer situation for everyone. This isn’t about forcing women to breastfeed, it’s about assuring that all mothers are able to make an informed choice about feeding their babies free of the influence of marketing. It’s about assuring that families that choose to (or need to) formula feed have access to a safe product at an affordable price. I would think any woman could get on board with that!

  63. That is so stupid! I just weaned my daughter after breast feeding for a year. I also took the formula the hospital gave and I had to use it our first few days home. The baby had jaundice and I wasn’t producing enough milk at the beginning to flush it out of her system. I did not discourage me from breast feeding in any way and it saved me from having to go to the store and buy formula!!

  64. I am completely for breastfeeding, at least making an attempt to be successful at it. I can see how have free formula on hand can make it easier in those early weeks. I am guilty of it. I accepted free formula for my daughter in the hospital because she was jaundice and instead of putting her in a billi-blanket, they wanted me to feed her as much as she would take so she would poop it out. After the free stuff was gone, I had a couple free cans from the doctor’s office to keep on hand just in case when my brothers who were creeped out by their sister’s boob juice would have to watch her for me. My daughter after 3 weeks received nothing but breast milk.
    I guess if the hospitals choose not to offer free formula, that is their choice. If you choose to formula feed or need to, that is the expense that you choose/need to take on. Most hospitals do provide free formula but also should be doing what they can to encourage (not attack or bully) women into breastfeeding or at least make it a more comfortable environment for those who choose not to.

  65. I BF my first daughter no problem, I even had a over supply and had some in the fridge just incase. My second daughter I had no issues in the hospital BF her, however when we got home my supply started to slow down. I was grateful that I saved the formula sample that was sent to me in the mail. I was never given any samples in the hospital. Some days my milk is just not enough for her, so I give her formula. I’m thankful that we qualify for WIC otherwise it would be an expensive supplement. Unfotunatly I did not expect that we would have to use formula we thought that it would be the same as our first daughter, but that turned out to be a no go. Formula is a choice and every mother should be able to choose what is best for them and their child.

  66. I breastfed both my boys. I have a one month old who was a pro right away. My 2 yr old had a tight frenulum, and jaundice. He had problems latching and had to be under the uv lamp. That being said, breastfeeding was stressful in those first few days. He roomed in with ne so I was sleep deprived and stressed and was very grateful when the nurses took him one night during our week long stay and fed him formula. That didn’t stop my breastfeeding. I nursed and supplemented bc I went back to work and due to my schedule couldn’t pump enough for the day at daycare. He got breast milk 75-80% of the time, but thank goodness for formula! The samples and the coupons are always welcome in this house. I am pro breastfeeding though, it is the best.

  67. I was a mom who wanted to breastfeed, I knew the benefits and the bonding stories. I wanted to be that mom that breastfed until atleast 9 months- that was the goal, my OB knew that and so did the pediatrician. However, my body didn’t agree. My son was almost a month early, my milk was slow in arriving and when it did was almost clear and very thin-like water. The doctors tested it and said that I was HURTING my child by breastfeeding him and had to switch to formula immediately. There was no nutritious elements in my milk, my son was losing weight. I was heartbroken- I switched to formula and now I have a son who is healthy, smart, ambitious and wonderful. Don’t assume that all moms want formula-sometimes it is not our choice. Those little (yes little- 2 serving size) cans of formula were lifesavers as I researched the best formula to give my child. If I am lucky to be blessed with another child, yes, I will try breastfeeding again, but now I know that a healthy child can be raised on formula. PS- I was a formula baby because my mom had twins and her milk never came in and I turned out just fine.

  68. I couldn’t breastfeed my oldest daughter because she was allergic to breast milk. She ended up having to be put on a rice based formula. She couldn’t have soy milk, goat’s milk, cow’s milk or breast milk. My youngest daughter was breastfed for only a few weeks because she wouldn’t take the breast. She was born small and just refused to breastfeed. I didn’t introduce formula until her doctor told me to because she wasn’t gaining weight like she needed to. My daughters are 11 and 7 now and are both doing great. The government needs to butt out of our personal lives and let us be parents and decide for ourselves what is best for our children.

  69. So no free samples of formula to send home with the link who can’t wait til she is free of the hospital and the baby in her belly to go back to her crack or meth habit so she breastfeeds her baby cause she wants to be a good mom and those people at the hospital told her a good mom breastfeeds……3 day old baby dead from a drug OD because she breastfeeds like a good mom should ……. Tell me is formula samples really a bad thing when dealing with a fragile addiction riddled mom who got clean just long enough to pass drug testing during labor and take her baby home so she can get high again because she has no money for formula and they told her breast was best…..

  70. Wow! This lady has kind of offended me. I was born to a mom who couldn’t nurse and neither could I. Doesn’t mean I should be denied something I need for my child that is so expensive. Glad I dont live in these states! Does that make me a horrible mother for not being able to nurse? Shouldn’t that be my decision?! If abortion is a woman’s right, shouldn’t the way we feed them be our right too??

  71. I tried to breastfeed (I was determined to solely breastfeed and even REFUSED some samples and coupons I had been given!) but things did not work out for me and DD. I couldn’t cut out all of the things in my diet that she didn’t like and therefore I was not getting enough to eat. After two months of trying to mainly breastfeed but supplementing with formula and having a gassy, MISERABLE baby, I gave in and quit breastfeeding. Within two days my baby was so happy that I knew it was the right choice for US. I’m happy for moms who can breastfeed and give their babies that extra special attention and gift; but for those of us who can’t do it (I was a full time student, full time employed, and under WAAAAY too much stress) there is NO SHAME in not breastfeeding. I support the woman’s right to choose which method is best for HERSELF and HER BABY, not someone else’s.

  72. @ hole. I am not a lazy piece of crap. I am a teacher and only get so many breaks a day. Bc of lack of educational funding, there is No One to cover my class so I can pump. My work does what they can to help. Therefore, when I couldn’t pump enough some days my son got a bottle or two of formula. He is now 2 yes old and can count to 30, knows all shapes including crescent, trapezoid etc, his colors, he knows how to count in Spanish… Need I go on. Yes, breasfeeding is best and I plan to breasted and supplement my 1 mo old when I go back to work in a few weeks. With no guilt! Honey, I will pray for you to get a heart and stop being so wicked with your tongue to all those wonderful mothers out there. I guess those of us who get epidurals and dontgo natural are weak and lazy too? Bless your heart dear. You are truly lost!

  73. the ban does not remove choice from mothers. You are still free to choose to feed your child however you wish. Furthermore, the ban does not prevent hospitals from giving formula during the hospital stay. All it does is prevent hospitals from handing out free samples of formula to moms at discharge. There is no need for it. Presumably, when you leave the hospital, you are going to see to it that your child gets fed…whether breastfeeding or formula feeding. If you’ve chosen the latter, then you need to own that choice and support that on your own. Why is it the hospital’s responsibility to feed your child once you walk out the door?

  74. So after reading a lot of these comments I have come to several conclusions first we as mom’s need to support each other not matter what we feed our children. It isn’t like if a mom that doesn’t breast feed she is filling the infants bottle with Pepsi or something. Second, I am offended that someone says because I drank while breastfeeding it hurt my child guess what it doesn’t in fact certain beers make you produce more milk due to the hops used in the brewing process. Next I breastfed for 2 years and I received free formula free coupons all kinds of things and it didn’t cause me to give my daughter any I was lucky to be able to focus so much attention on breast feeding. Not all mom’s get that time and I have a serious problem with people judging other people for not being able to do exactly the same thing as everyone else. Mind your own business…..

  75. I breast fed my daughter for as long as I could, unfortunately that only happened to be 3 months, my daughter refused to breast feed at a certain point and I was so relieved to know that I had an emergency supply of formula samples in the pantry, I dont know what i would have done without them

  76. If I hadn’t had the sample formula sitting in my kitchen, I don’t think I would have given up breast feeding so easily with my first. It started out as a supplemental thing which slowly transitioned into a routine. (My samples came directly from the Similac in the mail, even though I had never requested them)

    I would like to see hospitals, and formula companies for that matter, quit giving samples UNLESS they are requested. There’s no reason why a mother shouldn’t have access to formula if she can’t or chooses not to breast feed.

    Also, instead of eliminating formula samples for mothers, why not add lactation consultants to the staff? The hospital that I delivered both my kids at had a great staff of lactation consultants and nurses that were very knowledgeable on the subject. Even though it didn’t work out for me the first time, my second go round has been much easier, thanks in part to the great staff at the Carolina’s Medical Centers.

  77. I am also offended by this article! Outraged even. I tried every possible avenue to be able to breast feed- enduring unbelievable pain in the hospital, bursting into tears every single time I tried to feed, seeking the help of nurses and lactation consultants, undergoing 2 rounds of antibiotics after spending a day in the emergency room due to mastitis- it was a devastating tought that I wouldn’t be able to breast feed. Unable to physically do it, I pumped every 3 hours even through the night for one month…then formula it was! I beat myself up for not being able to breast feed successfully, no one else needs to do it for me! It’s a personal decision, and anyone who thinks that they need to make moms feel bad and like failures at their personal decisions- DON’T.

  78. I am the mother of grown children and have a 7 month old grandson. I worked for pediatricians who never tried to force a new mom to breastfeed. They were accepting and supporting of all new moms decisions. I did not breastfeed and my children were healthier than babies of friends who did. My grandson is also formula fed and extremely healthy. I am so tired of hearing pro breastfeeding moms criticize formula feeding moms. Anytime someone makes a negative comment about breastfeeding all hell breaks loose. It seems like we are supposed to praise moms who breastfeed and look down on those who do not. I never criticized any mother’s feeding decision but it seems like bottle feeding is fair game. Peggy O’Mara of Mothering magazine should be ashamed of herself for making that statement. I have to wonder what other nonsense she prints in her articles!

  79. I breast fed both my children and it’s a wonderful experience! But being in nursing school full time after my son was born (started a week after his birth)I had to use it occasionally. There is nothing wrong with formula and its a great thing for moms who cant breast feed because their bodies just don’t work the way nature meant. I don’t think it really matters if you get formula from the hospital or the store. Moms who decide not to breastfeed will get it no matter what and we should be thankful that the child is getting all the nutrition it needs from formula.

  80. I think it’s wrong to take away the gift of free formula. There are reasons that some mother’s choose to use formula that they don’t always have control over. I personally could not breast feed my son due to the fact that my body never produced milk so I had to use formula.

  81. I am absolutely speechless. I was unable to breastfeed both of my children. It is not that I didn’t try, I tried everything. I simply did not produce enough milk to feed them. Plain and simple. Without formula where would my children be? How dare anyone judge me for what I have no control over. My son was born 8 1/2 weeks premature and I couldn’t even try to breastfeed him until he was a month old. The entire time I pumped every two to three hours to give him 1/2 an ounce. At least I tried and you know what he is a happy, HEALTHY 5 year old. People need to back off and keep their opinions to themselves because we all are different. But the one thing I know is that we all want what is best for our children.

  82. UGH! I take offense to this. My child had SEVERE food allergies….SEVERE as a newborn…and would break out in head-to-toe hives and went into shock one morning because she was allergic to foods I was eating, that were coming to her through my breastmilk. So, knowing what I know now, for my next child, I am giving up major allergen-causing foods the month prior to due date, and then if my child still breaks out or has extreme reflux/difficulty nursing, you better believe I will have a back-up formula ON-HAND in the hospital!!!!! There is nothing worse than knowing your child is hurting. People need to do research on WHY some people don’t and CAN’T breastfeed. Trust me…I WISH we could have breastfed for many reasons including my baby’s health and for cost reasons as well. I did not want or choose to have to pay 40.00 per can of Elecare RX only formula for my child…BUT it is the only thing (protein-free) her body could tolerate for the first 6 months of her life. I WOULD HAVE LOVED if someone gave us the gift of paying for our formula.

  83. @melissa – I don’t expect the hospital to feed my child, but at the cost of formula I Gratefully accept any freebies they will give me! The samples are FREE. Tax payers aren’t footing the bill. For people like my hub and I who are blessed to have great jobs and don’t qualify for assistance programs, it’s nice to get any help where we can get it!

  84. @proudmama-you can get free formula samples elsewhere though. One being by signing up directly with formula companies. They will send you them in the mail…along with coupons to help you with the cost over the child’s first year and beyond. Second, there is WIC to help with the cost, if it truly is an issue.

    The problem with these free samples is that marketing does not belong in the hospital setting. Period. These companies have the means to do it on their own. They dont need hospitals to do the dirty work for them. It is also promoting brand loyalty and getting parents and babies “hooked” on certain formulations that may or may not be good for them (physically or financially speaking). Furthermore, these “freebies” are arbitrarily handed out with next to none education in the way of breastfeeding OR formula feeding. Breastfeeding mothers need to know what supplemental feeds can do to their supply, i.e. it can potentially lower it or kill it all together if mom isnt properly stimulating her breasts (pumping) during that supplemental feed. And for our formula feeding parents, they need to know how to properly prepare, store and feed their babies (actually both groups do if a breastfeeding mom chooses to supplement in any way). This info is not given. Just a cool tote bag with some cans of powdered milk.

    But back to the hospitals. They are in the business of promoting health and wellness. Time and time again, the research has proven that breast milk is best (and why formula companies are constantly changing their recipes to make their specific brand “as close to breast” as possible-they even use that specific line in their marketing of it, because even they too know its true!). Ergo, they should be promoting and supporting that first and foremost. And that is what the ban is essentially enabling hospitals in doing.

  85. I find this incredibly offensive. I was a determined first time mom trying to breast feed my baby. First, those free samples are what I used to try to entice my son to latch on (something the nurses and lactation consultant recommended). Second, I had major supply issues. My son lost too much weight between his birth and first doctors appointment 5 days later that his pediatrician ordered me to do both to get his weight up. I spent many days and nights crying because I could not keep up with his demand. So I had to supplement with formula, does that make me a terrible mom – I don’t think so! Instead of ripping apart mothers for giving their baby formula for whatever reason, how about we celebrate mothers for trying to be the best they can be. Mothers have enough stress, they don’t need outsiders telling them how to nourish their baby and making what can be a challenging time even harder.

  86. I take complete offense to that comment. I breat fed my first kid, until she was like 10 months, then formula. My 2nd daughter, she had displaced hips & a broken clavicle & just wasn’t comfortable breast feeding. I tried & was frustrated(we both were) and upset. She wasn’t attaching & I wasn’t able to make enough milk to pump, so she ended up going on a nursing strike at 2 weeks. I was so upset I cried. But she is a healthy, amazingly smart 2yr old now. And if I did not have free samples I would not have even been able to afford to feed her. You don’t know the situation, so mom’s don’t have a choice(ie certain meds-depression, ms, seizure meds- they keep the mom safe & healthy but aren’t healthy for the baby). A baby that was formula fed but has a healthy mom growing up, I’m sure that kid won’t care that they were formula fed. & a ton of kids my age(28) were formula fed.

  87. WOW!! This is awful. I was a very young mother at age 19 I chose NOT to breastfeed because I didn’t feel healthy enough and I felt formula was a better option for him. My son is now 10yrs old and he is perfect! I am now 8wks pregnant with my second child and I do not wish to breastfeed for months on end. I am hoping to breastfeed for maybe a month or two. My reasons are for one I have MS, I don’t take medication because I am convinced that it caused more relapses than no medication. ANyway… NO one has the right by an means to tell you that your wrong for NOT breastfeeding or wrong for formula feeding. You are your childs mother you know whats best for him or her. I don’t think the goverment has any right to get involved in the matters of breastfeeding.

  88. I tried breast feeding both children and was bullied by lactation consultants both times. They said i didnt do it right the child wasnt in the right position. I tried and tried until my breasts started bleeding and my children got severely jaundiced and it caused ppd because i felt inadaquate as a mother. my mom bottle fed my sisters and i and my mil breast fed. I am fortunate that i had famiy to support me and underand that what was best was to bottle feed.

  89. @melissa – There are a plethora of books, and classes at hospitals that target the issue of infant nutrition and how to raise a baby. You honestly can’t expect hospitals to sit down new parents and give them a play by play on how to raise their child. When a mother has reached that point, it’s not the delivering hospital’s job to educate her on childcare. I’d hope most parents go into the delivery room already knowing what to expect, and I think most parents go into the delivery room knowing that their own plans…and knowing plans can change.

    As for hospitals not being a place to promote goods: what about Medela? Everything related to breast feeding at my hospital was Medela. Should they not be able to supply the hospitals with their logo on their goods? My hospital gave me Ducolax. Was it irresponsible on their part to share the brand of medicine they gave me? My hospital offered free Pepsi products in the lobby. Was it irresponsible of a hospital to promote the consumption of “junk” food? What about the Pampers diapers and wipes? The Johnson and Johnson baby soap used for the first bath? What about the coupons for pacifiers, breast shields, a photography studio (that did in-room sessions), etc. Was that unethical?

    We don’t qualify for WIC or other assistance programs. The amount sent home from the hospital was only (roughly) $30.00 worth. IT IS a small amount. But when there are people who actually NEED that help financially, it’s a nice $30.00 worth of formula to fall back on. No hospital holds a gun to anyone’s head and says “take the formula”. They offer it to people. The mother/father CAN say “no”. As a previous-poster mentioned, it can even be donated to those in need should someone decide to take the formula and not use it. If someone doesn’t want the formula, how does a polite “no, thank you” hurt them? It doesn’t. It hurts the people who would actually use the formula.

    Breast is best. Sure, totally agree. But so is fresh food. So should we ban nursing mothers from fast-food joints? Make sure no mothers of solid-food kids will get pizza? No mac’n’cheese? I love cooking fresh; we do it most of the time, but not ALL of the time. You better believe that in my pantry, under the Baby-Bullet, sits a TON of infant food waiting for my son to be able to eat it.

    People sometimes use the argument “well what did people do without formula” to argue the merits of breastfeeding. Well for one, infant mortality rates were a lot higher; the other answers: wet-nurses, and barley water.

  90. From the moment I knew I was expecting I had my heart set on breast feeding my little girl. But since she was born prematurely breast feeding was quite hard. She was in the NICU & since she was born early we had to nasal tube feed her. I pumped every 3 hours and had to fortified with formula for calories. It got to a point my milk supply was low. I couldn’t even get 2 ounces after each pump. Don’t get me wrong I felt horrible, while I watched other moms bonding with their baby, my little girl couldn’t even latch with a nipple shield.I thank my lactation consultant for not making feel bad about my decision to formula feed. Not every baby is the same. Not every mother is the same.

  91. Yet another case of government trying to tell us what to do and how to live. the fact that someone who is in a position of influence would make such a dangerous statement is just appalling. The choice to use formula is a personal choice. Are they now going to require you to bring formula with you if that is going to be your choice? Maybe they’ll just charge an outrageous price to make you feel guilty. RIDICULOUS!!!

  92. I pro-FEEDING YOUR BABY! Whatever form that takes is up to the mother, not the GOVERNMENT, not the HOSPITAL, not the PEDIATRICIAN, and not OTHER MOTHERS!!! Being a mother is a tough enough job. The last thing we need is to defend our choices because someone somewhere feels it’s not the right one!!

  93. @proudmomma. I never said it was the hospitals responsibility to educate parents on how to parent their child. You are right, ultimately, it is not their responsibility.

    What I was referring to is that these formula bags are given out without regard to how to properly use/feed your child. That its arbitrarily given to mothers without consideration how they are planning on feeding their children. And yes, this info needs to be given along with these freebies. I am not talking about a day long/week long intensive course on the matter. I am talking about a simple pamphlet of information or a 5-10 minute conversation on how formula supplementation should work in the breastfeeding couplet, while simultaneously optimizing the breastfeeding relationship and supply. Or for exclusively
    formula fed babies-how to properly prepare, store and feed your infant.

    But lets also get real here. Not all parents go into L&D fully educated on labor, delivery, infant feeding…and yes, even parenting. Not all babies are planned, not all are wanted, and not all parents come to terms with their new found responsibility as fast as some others.

    Also, I have to ask-did you walk out of the hospital with a brand new Medela pump? What about Ducolax samples? My guess is that you didnt. My assumption is that you were given access to these products during your stay and your stay only. That is the difference.

  94. I think this is crazy. I have a two year old that was formula fed. Not because I didn’t want to breast feed, but because I couldn’t. I tried for 2 1/2 weeks, and when my baby started losing weight because I could not produce enough milk for her, it was the formula that the hospital gave me that helped me help my little girl. I am a young mother and I was scared, but having the support of doctors and nurses telling you that YOU are not doing anything wrong, and you are being a good mother and giving your baby everything it needs even with formula is what kept me from getting so depressed. Mothers are overwhelmed and scared and when you are not able to breast feed for whatever reason the hospital should be able to help and support you as well any mother that walks through the doors. It is sad that these states are not fully supporting us anymore.

  95. I don’t think the picture on the front page of this article is doing very much good. It seems like the baby is having the bottle stuffed in her mouth – not quite the loving picture of a bottle fed baby that should have been used.

  96. I intended to breast feed my baby. At the hospital that is all she got and we came home and I fed her for three days on the breast. At her 72 hour check up she had lost 20% of her birth weight. The night before her check-up when we couldn’t console her we finally decided to feed her something from a bottle. We went to the samples the hosptital sent us home with. Without those she may have gone even longer without feeding. We were admitted into the hospital for jaundice and they gave her formula as we worked on breast feeding. After speaking with her ped we decided to forumla and supplament with breast milk I pumped. On a good day I’d get 5oz with the help of medication. Without forumla, my baby would have starved. Doctors are able to give free samples of rx medication, why not something nutritious for a baby?

  97. @melissa – We did not receive a free Medela pump (and my old insurance didn’t cover it – argh!), but we did receive a TON of Medela products. Free lanolin samples, a free nipple shield ($10), free thera shields ($10), free tubes for a breast pump, free breast shields/connectors/membranes ($16), free SNS (supplemental nursing system $45), pampers diapers and wipes to take home (I don’t know that these are actually ‘free’), and Johnson and Johnson sample-size baby soap. The hospital I delivered at has great lactation consultants that work through them and provide the Medela products. All of the products they have available as rentals are also Medela products.

    The value of the Medela products was a far greater value than the eight pre-made samples of formula they gave me ($10.00). The Similac welcome pack they sent home also included information on feeding, the number for a feeding expert (nursing/bottlefed), a small cooler bag for breast milk, breast milk bottles, and freezer packs.

    Vilifying free gifts of formula by banning them makes the gift seem dirty and unacceptable, which in turn makes mothers feel as if they’re doing something wrong by feeding their children formula. I was hell-bent on breast feeding my child until he was a year old. That didn’t go so well for me. I had to supplement right away because of the weight he loss, and even tried to use the SNS to boost milk production while still nursing him. The SNS is great in theory, but when you add a hungry, frustrated, wiggling, fist-eater into the equation, it’s near impossible without four hands. Using the SNS often ended in tears for both of us.

    I think we’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree on the free formula issue. 🙂

  98. I think this is bull!! Women should not be bullied just because they don’t choose to breast feed their babies. And I don’t agree that “breast is best” either. Now days formula has just as much nutrients as breast milk. I have 3 beautiful, healthy children and not one of them have been breastfed a day in their lives. They have not had any more illness, are not under or over weight from being bottle fed. My youngest is 5 weeks and with her I couldnt breast feed if i would have wanted because i had to have surgery shortly after she was born. Formula should not be banned, it is mother’s right to choose.

  99. I have met women who had no resolve or functioning will in the first place, thats how they got pregnant in the first place, and I honestly believe that an attempt to undermine the idea of breastfeeding is EXACTLY why they insist on those free samples in the first place. However, those samples will last you maybe a week, IF your baby is a light eater. I don’t like that they give those out, but it doesn`t really hurt anything either. I also understand that for mothers that don`t intend to breastfeed, or can`t due to any number of complications, that can be what gets them to payday when they can buy some.

  100. I have a problem with this article not for the obvious reason. I did breastfeed and formula feed both my children and in fact my 7 month old who was breastfeed until 3 months and now formula fed is already trying to walk and stands alone. She is far ahead of other babies in general so I doubt formula is messing her up. It’s a woman’s right to choose and not a place for the government to step in.
    As for my problem with this article. I think it is careless for Parents.com to imply that Mitt Romney is “connected” to this woman. If you read the article attached it says that Romney turned this down in 2006 and even stated, “We’re not disputing the health benefits of breast-feeding, but we think that new mothers should make that choice. If they choose to bottle-feed, they should be supported in that decision.” I am not a big political person but I can NOT stand how the media, like this website, throws in it’s political views to imply that he was in favor of this and unless you read the article attached you would believe he was. You could have left his name off or mentioned his opposition to it in THIS article. To prove the point I had three of my co-workers read this article and all three said, before reading the real article, how they can’t believe Romney would be connected to her. Ugh!

  101. It appears that anybody can become an editor-in-chief of a minor magazine. Maybe there should be an intelligence test given during the interview to fill these positions.

  102. As an obstetrician, I try to keep up with the scientific literature which clearly demonstrates that breastfed babies have a dramatically reduced incidence of childhood diabetes, childhood obesity, asthma, allergies and leukemia and have a 3-5 point higher IQ. Moms who breasfeed lose their weight more easily and have a significantly decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Some women have no interest in breastfeeding and that is perfectly fine! But for those who do, the medical community should support them in all ways. There is clear data that giving mothers free formula when they go home clearly reduces successful breastfeeding. It gives the mother a very mixed message. No one is saying that moms who chose to bottle feed should be made to feel guilty. And no one is saying that hospitals will not have formula. What is being said is that it is wise to follow the recommendation of the World Health Organization which is that hospitals should not accept FREE formula from companies! Hospitals do not accept free medications! In reality, the hospitals continue to accept the free formula because of the free lunches that these companies provide as well as the perceived financial savings for the hospital. BUT…….it is estimated that our country would save billions of dollars in health care savings each year if all moms would breastfeed their babies for 6 months! It is hard to imagine that the little bit of formula that is sent home is really going to make a difference in feeding a child. But what it does do is give a loud and clear message that your hospital is encouraging you to give your baby formula.
    If Mitt Romney wants to weigh in on health care policy, then he needs to educate himself about this most basic of health care issues.

  103. I will never understand why some ( and I say some ) breastfeeding moms feel the need to put down any mom who bottle feeds or why any one puts up a fuss when a mom breastfeeds in public. A baby needs to eat. Let the mom choose how. I don’t feel the need to explain why I bottle fed my babies. Also the hospital I had my babies at offered a bag to go home with. One for breastfeeding moms and one for formula feeding moms. The formula my babies got in the hospital was not the brand I kept them on. My three boys had to be put on soy based formula. They were way to gassy with the milk based and would scream in pain after every feeding. Every one needs to back off and let moms feed their babies how they wish and stop making any of them feel guilty for their choices.

  104. These people really are fools! I breast fed my now 3 yr old and had to supplement with formula as per her pediatrician because i could not keep up with her! She was a hungry baby and i would never let her starve..thank goodness the wonderful nurses at the hospital gave me a small supply of formula before we went home “just in case”. My daughter had both breastmilk and formula and she is just fine! No one should make any decision for new mothers or new babies!

  105. I agree with you 100%. Your post is very well-written, and you make excellent points. I feel so bad for your sister to have had a doctor who didn’t support her in her choice to go back on her meds instead of breastfeeding. I’m sure her baby was way better off as a result. It’s much more important for a baby to have the healthiest mom he/she can have than to have breastmilk. These lactivists have gone too far. The unintended consequence of all the breastfeeding pressure is stressed out moms, and babies being raised by stressed out moms which is definitely not the best thing for the babies. I fully support breastfeeding if it works for you. If not, formula is a perfectly nutritious alternative.

  106. Why is there so much guilt surrounding formula? I exclusively breastfed all three of my kids until 9 months old. It was a TON of work, sometimes painful, and I have to say not always supported by those around me. I stuck with it. When I switched to formula, there were people turning up their noses at me. I felt like I was damned if I did and damned if I didn’t. There are people that think breastfeeding in public is disgusting. There are people that think formula feeing is horrible. Seriously, enough already. This is America. Any woman should choose to do what she wants. We Moms should be lifting each other up. Being a Mom is the hardest job on the planet. How about we all congratulate each other for a job well done and being able to keep our kids’ tummies full, no matter the way we do it.

  107. Thank you SO much for writing this!! Why has advocating for breastfeeding turned into this over-zealous, proganda-type campaign, filled with attacks on formula and moms who feed it to their children.
    While it might be “rare”, it seems like none of these so-called advocates have stopped to think that MANY women actually DO understand the benefits, but for some reason (many medical, like the one with your poor sister), they physically CANNOT breastfeed.
    I desperately wanted to exclusively breastfeed my children, but suffer from a condition in which I can’t produce enough milk no matter how hard I try or how much I want to. It was devastating to discover after the birth of my first. Here’s my story: http://www.momendeavors.com/2011/03/when-breastfeeding-doesnt-work-part-1.html
    So, not only are these statements made by some & these government bans absolutely “ridiculous”, they are down right hurtful to moms who desperately want to breastfeed, but can’t!!

  108. I’m beyond gobsmacked at the sense of entitlement most of these comments are reflecting. Free formula isn’t a right!

    By all means, choose what is best for you. If you choose to formula feed you can buy it yourself! If you need to supplement your breast milk with formula, you can buy it yourself! If you can’t afford to buy it (maybe you should have thought of that before actually having a kid) there are programs (WIC) designed specifically to help you out!

    It isn’t rocket science. You have 9 months to prepare for this baby. You know he/she is going to need to eat. If you choose to breastfeed but would feel better having a can on hand “just in case”, in my experience, they’re not located too far from the Boppy’s in Target. If you know going in that you are going to exclusively formula feed (and BTW, most women do make this decision before pushing), stock up! Seriously, did you wait for the doctor to cut the cord before remembering to buy the carseat?

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