Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Got Formula? Not anymore!

Our local baby factory hospital, Women & Infants, has recently announced that they will no longer provide formula samples to new moms who are being discharged. Their claim is that the formula sends the wrong message to mothers and discourages breast feeding, while also endorsing products, another bad message. (They also give you as many free Pampers as can fit in a body bag, but I guess that does not count).

I think this new practice is stupid, stupid, stupid.

A little background, in case you think I am biased (but aren't we all?). I was the mother who was beyond determined to make breastfeeding work no matter what happened. At no point was my baby ever going to have formula, unless it was a dire emergency. I took all the classes, I coached my nipples, preparing them for what was to "come", and I had all the right equipment; the pump, the peek-a-boo bras, the plastic breast shields (don't ask), the leakage pads, and the extra strength Advil for the pain that would ensue.

Are you picturing Wonder Woman without the tiny waist? Good.

Then my first born arrived. An average sized baby who had a hard time "latching on". What? How could this happen? Isn't breastfeeding the most natural thing in the world? Doesn't the baby have an instinct? And who are these hairy women coming into my room, analyzing my breasts and prying open my baby's mouth by his chin while squirting water in his face to wake him up, all in the name of a feeding? And did I mention that I can't even rest the baby on my tummy for a feeding as I've just had a C-section. Home team disadvantage, you must hold the baby like a football under your arm. Do these people know how much I hated flag football in junior high? I sucked! And now my baby doesn't even know how to.

Day 2: The baby starts getting jaundicy and it later turns out it's not the normal kind. It's the kind called "Breastfeeding Jaundice", which they tell me can only be cured by drinking more breast milk. Super! I have a yellow baby who wants to sleep all the time, has a receding chin (not cool in the Land of Lactation), and was just circumcised (adding to more trauma).

At this point, I may have turned to formula. I did not. As I said, I was determined! I used the hospital pump and tried to increase the supply of milk so the baby could look less like a lemon.

They even let me take him home where I continued pumping and nursing constantly. However, this baby was not recovering from Breast milk Jaundice and was losing weight. My pediatrician (also a nursing mother to 3 kids), knew how much I wanted this to work. She finally advised formula to supplement, just to get his weight up. I was devastated at the time, but I did what she said. I was in no way going to mess with his development. He ended up gaining weight and was fine, however, my breast milk supply never "took off", so he was a half and half baby. Kind of like what you put in your coffee.

Then I had my 2ND baby 4 years later. I gave the breastfeeding a try and miraculously, it worked extremely well for 15 months. He had formula once in a blue moon.

We all know that breastfeeding is the most natural and nutritious food choice for a baby. However, sometimes, it just doesn't work out for whatever reason. And after having experienced my own reasons, I can understand why some women "give up" on breastfeeding, or don't even try it. They probably hear horror stories or perhaps they are too self conscious to even try it. You cannot judge another woman for choosing formula. You are not in her bra, are you?

So, getting back to my opening sentence way up top. No matter what your choice is, having a sample of formula handed to you upon discharge will not be the nail in the coffin. You have already had the baby and by the time you have left the hospital, you have fed the baby via breast or bottle and have made some type of decision, correct? And what happens if you get home and you don't have a back up plan in case you cannot nurse? Won't that dinky little sample from the Similac company come in handy?

I loved my experience at Women & Infants and I am so grateful that both my babies were delivered safely and I was treated with the best possible care by all of the nurses and staff. However, I believe this new policy is just silly and they are using the wrong platform to send their message. The free Pampers do not cost the hospital any money, nor do the formula samples. You get all kinds of freebies as a new mom. Considering what the formula companies charge, I think it's the least they can do. The hospital already has their army of lactation consultants swarming the castle like Breastfeeding Ninjas, sniffing out every woman who springs a leak, so we know that they give breastfeeding more P.R. than the Kardashian girls.

Perhaps the hospital's new strategy can include sending all new moms home with a 60 year old Russian wet nurse. Now that would be useful!

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