Hospitals Giving out Formula Samples

There has been a huge push lately from many supporters of breastfeeding to remove formula from hospitals or stop giving out samples to families.  Some hospitals already have a BYOF (Bring Your Own Formula) policy on the books.  But is this really the best way to increase breastfeeding?  Are samples the one thing that is making women choose to use formula over breastfeeding?  Is it really those hospital samples that they are being sent home with that is sabotaging American women and breastfeeding?

I get the thinking!

As a breastfeeding mother who had to make my wants very clear in the hospital with the birth of my last child I really do get the thoughts behind this.

  • If the formula is there then we’ll be tempted to use it.
  • Having formula around can undermine breastfeeding.
  • And of course it’s obvious that formula companies are doing it all simply as a marketing ploy.  They have got to make money somehow, right?

The Reality Of It All

In actuality if you remove formula from hospitals, then you could be putting many babies at risk for problems.  Babies who need to be in the NICU and need that formula.  Babies whose mothers are ill or unconscious and can’t breastfeed.  There are issues that can come up at any moment making formula a necessity.

Now sure, the hospitals might be able to have formula on hand for these emergency situations, but at what cost?  It will make already inflated hospital bills even higher.

Leaving The Hospital With Samples

Whatever samples I received of formula in the hospital was maybe 5 feeds worth.  I received more formula in the mail from the formula companies.  How did they get my information and know that I was pregnant?  I don’t know, from my buying habits maybe.  Or maybe I signed up for something as a new parents and they just automatically send this stuff whether you are going to breastfeed or not.  For months after my youngest was born we received Enfamil and Good Start coupons in the mail.  That was much more formula compromising my breastfeeding relationship with my daughter and yet somehow I managed to exclusively breastfeed her until she started on some solids around 8 months old.  And she continued breastfeeding until she was 13 1/2 months old.

Of course this is all anecdotal.  Sure, I did it, this time, but my 4th child is the only one I successfully breastfed this long.  I went into the hospital to have my oldest with every intention of using formula.  I breastfed my middle daughter for all of 3 days before she stopped latching and when it’s 2 a.m. and your baby is screaming and won’t latch on having formula in the house sure is handy because without a lactation consultant living in my home and not wanting to make a run to a 24 hour drug store to pay inflated prices on formula it sure was nice to have those samples.

I Firmly Believe The Hospital Hindered Breastfeeding With My Son

In spite of knowing that things could have been drastically different with breastfeeding of my son I still think that formula has its place in the hospital.  I know that I could have handled things differently in the hospital with my son and I did just that when my youngest was born.  When they wanted to give her a bottle minutes after birth I said fine to the formula to help with her sugar levels, but not in a bottle.  And they did find a way to do it without causing nipple confusion in my daughter.

Hospitals Do Have Room For Improvement

I do think hospitals can do things to help women start off breastfeeding successfully.  I know part of those bags that you go home with that contain formula also do contain samples of nipple cream and breast pads which is great.  Not something a formula feeding mom needs and we don’t hear them complaining about that either.  But there is more to be done.

  • They should have lactation consultants available 24/7 in hospitals.
  • When a woman wants to breastfeed if at all possible they should not use a bottle to feed a baby if for some reason formula is needed as it was in my case.
  • Coupons for hospital grade breast pumps would be great.
  • Coupons for nursing apparel.
  • More educated staff to insure a proper start in breastfeeding.

I know these are things I would have benefited from.  When my son had to be given formula because of his jaundice I didn’t know any better at that time.  Later when problems really began to arise with him I realized that there were other ways to have given him formula without using a bottle.

A good breast pump and better nursing apparel sure would have been helpful with all of my children when I breastfed.

And lets face it some nurses are really just better than others.  Making sure that the nurses who are experienced with breastfeeding are taking care of the breastfeeding moms is great.  I know this isn’t always possible if you have a lot of births at once and a lot are breastfeeding, but making sure they are all properly educated will help.

If a woman really truly wants to breastfeed, then she will do it!  No amount of formula samples is going to sabotage that.  Just going by my own experiences, I breastfed my 2nd daughter for 3 days.  I know I could have done more to make that work out better even after giving into the evils of samples that I had.  But I don’t think I ever really wanted to do it then.  With my son I did really want to do it and the only reason we only got to 3 months was because he wasn’t thriving on my milk and he needed formula.  But I learned from that experience and I did better with my youngest.  I wanted to do it and I did it!  I knew we had formula in the house.  As a matter of fact there’s still a small sample can in my pantry.  It has never been opened.

Our energy should not be wasted telling formula companies how to market their product in hospitals.  It should be spent setting up classes for our children in school on breastfeeding awareness and the benefits of it.  Don’t be so worried about those few small samples that hospitals send you home with because I highly doubt that is the single most important reason that more women are not breastfeeding!

What do you think?  Should hospitals remove formula samples completely from the hospital or from the gift bags that they send women home with?


Is Breastfeeding Coming To An End?

You might recall that I was worried about leaving my husband to cloth diaper this weekend for the first time.  Little did I know that I might have a bigger worry on my hands.  My breastfeeding relationship with my 13 1/2 month old daughter was also being affected by this sleepover with my middle daughter.  Oh how difficult it is being the parent to more than one child.  Always pulled in four different directions.  I know I desperately needed to do this with my middle daughter and I have no regrets about the time we spent together, but at the same time did I leave my baby too soon?

It Started With A Refusal To Breastfeed

Now I will admit there has been less and less interest in breastfeeding of late.  Most nights she does still get up to breastfeed and then I usually breastfeed her in the morning.  Generally speaking we are only down to twice a day.  Sometimes she’ll want it more often, but for the most part it’s twice a day.  So before leaving with my daughter Friday night I figured to keep up my supply I would breastfeed her, since I wouldn’t be home to breastfeed her and even if I did pump I didn’t really want to do it in the bathroom of my daughter’s elementary school.  She refused!  I didn’t think too much of it.  We had just eaten dinner.  She had a cup of milk.  She probably wasn’t really interested because she was full and refreshed.  So I left with the hopes that missing our evening feed was not going to mess with my supply at all.

Still No Interest The Next Morning 

When I came home early Saturday morning I had hoped that she would want to breastfeed.  She was already awake and my husband had given her a cup of milk.  Not only that, but she did fine the night before without me.  I mean I knew she would do fine because it’s kind of out of sight out of mind, but I guess I was envisioning her attacking me as soon as she saw me after going 24 hours without breastfeeding.  She was quite content with her milk though.

So I Wonder… Is This The End Of A Good Long Run Of Breastfeeding?

I am proud that we went over a year.  I never did see myself going much past say the 18 month mark with breastfeeding.  And given the fact that she has been breastfeeding less I didn’t think things would go on too much longer.  In all honesty sometimes I seriously wonder how much if any she is getting when she does breastfeed.  Maybe I’m a human pacifier.  Because even after going 24 hours I was not leaking or engorged.  I did feel slightly full, but maybe that was my mind playing tricks on me.  I know 13 1/2 months of breastfeeding with over 6 months being done exclusively is nothing to sneeze at.

But Maybe There Is Still Interest

I was really beginning to think that either she was done or she was mad at me for leaving.  And after her waking up twice last night specifically to breastfeed I would say she was mad at me.  Okay, well not really mad at me.  I don’t know that she has the capability to do that sort of reasoning.  She doesn’t seem quite ready to stop though.  So that’s a huge relief to me.  Because had that actually been the end I probably would have always wondered if it was because I almost forced it to be the end by not being there.

And again the time I spent with my middle daughter was just as important as all of these things are such fleeting moments in our children’s lives.  Some day we will be empty nesters and I’ll be wondering where did the time go?  Did I do enough for each of my children?  Was I there enough?  Did I give them the guidance and love that they need?  Did I give them the nurturing that they need?  What it all enough?

But for now all looks to be right with the world again.  My baby girl does still want to breastfeed.  I still want to breastfeed her.  So the relationship continues…

When did you know your little one was ready to wean?  Did you do self weaning?

My Experiences Are My Own And I Own Them!

I was talking to a friend recently about our experiences as mothers. We were discussing another woman we know who has had so many different stories about when she stopped breastfeeding her son. It seems like a strange thing to lie about, but for whatever reason this woman stopped breastfeeding sometime between 3 months and 18 months. It got me thinking about how can anyone take her seriously if she can’t be honest about how long she breastfed her child. Or if she breastfed her child. Or why she stopped breastfeeding her child.

I Have Experienced It All

As the mother of 4 children I have had a lot of different experiences in feeding my children. I have never felt the need to lie about my experiences. About why I chose what I did. Maybe I was more secure in my choices than this other mother. Maybe this other mother just lives to get reactions out of people by lying and exaggerating her life. Either way, rest assured, here, what you see is what you get!

How I chose to feed my oldest.

I was a young first time mother. When my oldest was born there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to use formula. I never had any intention of breastfeeding her at all. My mom didn’t breastfeed me or my brother and we were just fine. So she got formula from day one and not a drop of breast milk.

There were other reasons for that too. I was going back to work when she was 6 weeks old and my sister in law was going to be watching her. So I didn’t want to worry about her not wanting to take a bottle or the transition with that. And my sister in law had her own baby girl who is just six weeks older than my daughter. So I felt it would be easier for her to feed both babies every three hours or so instead of having to feed mine every hour or two. I didn’t think it would be fair to her for her day to consist of round the clock bottle warming and feeding. That was my choice.

People might have viewed these decisions as selfish and I wasn’t thinking of my child. I was told I was selfish. But to this day I know that this was what was best for my child and my family and I do not believe there have been any ill affects suffered at all. I was told that I shouldn’t knock something I hadn’t tried. To which I say, fair enough lets see what happens if I do breastfeed.

With my middle daughter I was in a different place.

By the time my middle daughter came along I was firmly planted in the stay at home mom scene. Things were different and I decided my reasons for not breastfeeding my oldest didn’t entirely apply. So I decided I would give this a try. And I did. When my middle daughter was born I was shown how to breastfeed her. She really wasn’t much interested in latching on. She had a lot of mucous after birth which they assured me was common.

She started to get better when my milk came in on day three, but that was short lived. By day four she was back to not latching. I was exhausted and engorged and she was screaming. I gave her a bottle. I tried to pump, but I only had a hand pump and while the milk was definitely there I couldn’t get more than half an ounce out. My husband and I discussed things and she seemed good with the formula and I felt well she got the good stuff in the colostrum anyways so we’ll just switch.

I vowed I would never ever go through that again either because the pain I experienced after 4 days of breastfeeding and getting actual milk to come in was awful. I decided breastfeeding just wasn’t for me. And that was fine. My kids were all healthy in spite of not having the wonderful breast milk. It worked for me. It worked for my children. It was my choice selfish or not I own it!

Then my son came along.

It was five years before we would add to our family. Throughout my pregnancy I was conflicted with breastfeed or not. My husband left it completely up to me. And then I found out that I had to have a c-section. That made my decision for me. I knew I wasn’t going to be the first to hold my son like I was when my girls were born. So I wanted to make sure that I had that bond with him. Not that the only way you can properly bond with a baby after a c-section is through breastfeeding, but I knew it definitely couldn’t hurt.

It wasn’t easy from the very beginning. He was jaundice and needed to be under the bilirubin lights. They wanted him to get formula too. So he would be allowed out of the lights for half an hour only ever couple of hours where I could nurse him and then hand him over to my husband to give a bottle. So in his first few days of life we had to supplement. And things went down from there.

We couldn’t get weight on him and by the time he was 3 months old we were admitted to the hospital with him for 5 days where they ran all sorts of tests and had me scared out of my mind. Finally they decided it was me, I wasn’t producing enough milk and he needed to be on a high calorie formula. And that abruptly ended our nursing relationship and also did not help him put on weight, but that’s another story in and of itself for another day.

When my youngest was born I vowed it would be different.

I felt so robbed and cheated out of my experience with my son that I was bound and determined to make it work with my youngest. I refused to allow her to have ANY artificial nipples until we established breastfeeding. No pacifiers and no bottles. And I had to be strong and firm in my stance.

Not even an hour after she was born they were concerned about her sugar and wanted to give her formula. I was fine with the formula, but I said you better give it to her in a dropper or spoon or something because she is not getting a bottle. The nurse said we could try something, but she didn’t have much confidence it would work. Little did she know that my daughter was the perfect one to do this on because I think she was more determined than anyone, including me, to actually nurse. She had a good strong suck and took to it right away. So that was a positive we had going for us. She got the formula in while nursing at my breast and she never needed another drop of formula after that.

I refused pacifiers even when they wanted to give her one when they took blood. It was probably six weeks before I let her suck on anything but me (finger or nipple). And the first two months were not at all easy. I had cracked and bleeding nipples and times of engorgement of course, but I stuck it out because it was what I really wanted. Not because I thought it was something I had to try so I could say I tried it. Not because I felt I had to because I am a stay at home mom now. Because it was something I really wanted to do.

No Regrets

Do I have any regrets in my choices of feeding my children? I think I can answer that with a no. Looking at my oldest two who had either all formula or mostly formula to start out life I certainly can’t say either one of them is better off than the other or their brother or baby sister because they received more breast milk. I am upset with how things played out with my son, but he’s 4 and he’s doing great. I believe that was the hardest on me though because it wasn’t my choice to stop. I was made to stop and still things didn’t improve for him. That is a hard pill to swallow.

But even though I have experienced not giving one drop of breast milk, to only colostrum, to three months, and now to a year plus I would never feel the need to tell anyone it went down any different than that. Because I clearly learned and grew from each experience I had before. I was in a different place in my life and I could never look down on another mother for making similar choices that I made. I will share my experiences and choices with pride and let women make their own decisions on what’s best for their family and their child.

I will however look down on a mother who lies about her choices because that is not helpful to anyone. And if “mom wars” really do exist, then I believe it’s those dishonest people who fuel the fires of those so called “mom wars”.

Do you own your experiences as a mother? Are you confident enough in your choices to say I did this and I learned and grew because of it?