Should Hospitals Really Lock Away the Formula?

Photo: Veer / The Bump
Photo: Veer / The Bump

In a move that’s sure to add fuel to the great breast vs. formula debate, the New York City Health Department will soon launch a new breastfeeding initiative that will affect new mothers city-wide. Beginning Sept. 3, the voluntary “Latch On NYC” program will allow maternity hospitals to lock away infant formula for the better good of breastfeeding.

What exactly will this mean for new moms? To start, you won’t see promotions or advertisements for formula brands at your hospital. City officials hope that eliminating ads will let women decide which form of feeding is best for baby without being influenced by advertising. Those who choose the bottle route — whether due to personal preference or breastfeeding difficulties — will only be able to get formula after a nurse has properly signed the food out.

This isn’t the first step taken by health officials to make formula less prominent in hospitals. In 2007, hospitals started to ban formula from gift bags. Lanyards and mugs with formula brands’ logos were also prohibited. Today, 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals participate in the ban. Massachusetts health officials followed suit earlier this month after putting a stop to free formula giveaways throughout the state’s 49 hospitals.

The push away from the bottle was made by NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Farley after studying the benefits of breast milk. “Human breast milk is best for babies and mothers,” said Farley. “When babies receive supplementary formula…it can impede the establishment of an adequate milk supply and can undermine women’s confidence in breastfeeding.”

American Academy of Pediatrics agrees, recommending mothers breastfeed exclusively for their baby’s first six months and continuing to breastfeed for at least the first year. The Greater New York Hospital Association says that while ninety percent of NYC moms start breastfeeding immediately after giving birth, that number shrinks to thirty-one percent two months later.

Do you think banning free formula samples and locking away formula at hospitals can help promote breastfeeding? Or do you think these new rules are excessive?

Plus, more from The Bump:

Join the Boob-olution!

Breastfeeding Advice Hospitals Don’t Give

How to Bond Over the Bottle