Thursday, July 2, 2009

Formula, the Disaster

Posted by Kim:

While doing research for yesterday's commentary on UNICEF's "Formula for Disaster" I came across the article Formula, for Disaster by Jennifer Zajfe written for the NY Times and was shocked. In the article, Jennifer claims that hospitals can no longer be classified as Mother Friendly because "In their effort to encourage breast-feeding, what the American Academy of Pediatrics has deemed the healthier food source for newborns, 11 public hospitals in the city have decided to stop giving free formula samples to new mothers."

Why are free samples of formula not being given away? Right in her own article she notes "Fueling this movement are studies that have shown that new mothers who are given free samples of formula are less likely to stick with breast-feeding after they leave the hospital. As a reference point, the academy recommends that women breast-feed their infants exclusively for the first six months, citing that a half year of breast-feeding reduces the risk and duration of infectious illnesses as well as the risk of chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel diseases and juvenile-onset diabetes."

So why are these attempts to encourage mothers to breast-feed their babies for their own and their babyies' health considered discriminatory and not Mother Friendly? Based on her own birth experience, Jennifer had a difficult labor resulting in an emergency caesarean section which delayed her milk production. Despite the nurses supportively encouraging her to breast-feed her baby she ultimately decided to bottle-feed her daughter. She says that the formula samples were a godsend.

While I don't doubt that these samples were convenient for her and that it was in fact a very difficult time for her because her birth experience wasn't what she expected and she never had any intention to bottle-feed her baby, I just have to wonder why she is questioning the decision not to routinely give out formula samples to every single mother in every single situation. I remember receiving my first diaper bag as a gift from the hospital. That "beautiful" yellow and blue Similac bag that I can recognize from 3 blocks away. I knew I was going to breast-feed and everything worked out great for me, but if I was at all worried about how I was going to make it work, or concerned about whether or not I could do it, wouldn't the routine gift of the similac send the message that my hospital and OB is much more supportive of formula rather than breast-feeding? Even if that is not the case, that would certainly be the perception.

Referring back to her birth experience and the difficulty with breast-feeding after a caesarean birth she states "With Caesarean rates skyrocketing in New York City (some hospitals have a nearly 40 percent rate of Caesarean delivery), formula often becomes a necessary part of the equation. As in my case, women who experience a delay in milk production from these types of deliveries frequently end up relying on bottle-feeding to nourish their infants."

In my opinion, Jennifer should stop worrying about the issue of not receiving free formula samples, instead she should be concerned about why mother's are having a difficult time initiating breast-feeding and if it is due in part to the 40% caesarean birth rates, maybe that is the heart of the issue.

1 comment:

  1. You are clearly a judgemental, sick person. If breastfeeding were so great, why do you need to push it so hard on people to the point of mean spiritness? Truly sick. You need help.