OK, so here’s something I had to share that’s bound to be a little controversial. A few weeks ago, I was asked to be on the Mike and Juliet show to talk about breastfeeding, in relation to the recent NYC ban on formula bag giveaways at certain hospitals. At the time, I thought that the ban was kind of extreme. Women should have a choice in what they feed their baby, I thought (and said), so they should be given a choice of what type of bag to take home. Why not provide both types of bags, and let the mom choose?
But then I thought about it more. The point isn’t about choice, it’s about what’s good for your baby. Hospitals advocate that new moms breastfeed, yet when mom and baby go home, they give them diaper bags filled with formula. It sends a mixed message. “You should breastfeed, but when you fail (because you might and so many moms do), here’s some formula.” Well, that’s not right. It’s sort of like going to the doctor’s office, being diagnosed with high cholesterol, and then given some McDonalds coupons as you walk out the door. You should eat a diet to control your cholesterol, but you might not, so here’s something to help you out when you fail.
The formula companies will find you. They found the hospitals–they aren’t dumb. They knew that was a way “in” to new moms. (Hey, I work in advertising–and I used to work on a diaper brand. You are always brainstorming ways to expose your product to potential new consumers.)
It’s not like moms depend on those formula bags given away at hospitals. I got tons of free samples and discount coupons in the mail when I had O–from all the major formula companies. In fact, I think Enfamil thinks I had another child, because I’m suddenly getting regular Enfamil samples again (I was getting that Next Step stuff). If breastfeeding doesn’t work for you, it’s easy to find free and discounted formula and formula coupons–at pediatrician’s offices, day care centers (that’s where I took all my samples and coupons), Craig’s list, eBay, and I’m sure various other places I haven’t even thought of.
I would’ve loved to receive a diaper bag filled with breastfeeding accessories–nursing pads, creams, storage bags, cute T-shirts. And if breastfeeding is what doctors and hospitals want new moms to do, then that’s what they should give new moms.