Rhode Island Hospitals No Longer Giving Away Formula Samples

Hospitals in Rhode Island will no longer be sending new mothers home with samples of infant formula, The Huffington Post reports.  The state’s 7 birthing hospitals are just the latest to stop the practice of distributing formula–in September, a study found that the number of formula-free hospitals has doubled in the past 3 years.  The move is part of hospitals’ efforts to encourage breastfeeding.  From the Huffington Post:

State health officials hailed the decision Monday, noting that breastfeeding has been proved healthier than formula for both infants and mothers. Stephanie Chafee, a nurse and the wife of Gov. Lincoln Chafee, called the decision a critical step toward increasing breastfeeding rates.

“As the first `bag-free’ state in the nation, Rhode Island will have healthier children, healthier mothers, and a healthier population as a whole,” Chafee said. “This is a tremendous accomplishment.”

Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.

The new policy isn’t intended to force women into nursing their children, according to Denise Laprade, a labor and delivery nurse and lactation consultant at Woonsocket’s Landmark Medical Center, which eliminated free formula distribution last month. She said the focus is instead on parental education and helping mothers decide what’s best for their child.

“We never make any woman feel guilty about her decision,” Laprade said. She said she has received few complaints from parents about the new policy, though she said the older nurses needed a little time to adjust.

Image: Baby formula, via Shutterstock.

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  1. by Tanya

    On November 30, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I don’t like this because not ever mom can breast feed. I never got breast milk after I had my son.

  2. by Sonja

    On November 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    “…the focus is instead on parental education and helping mothers decide what’s best for their child.”

    This is interesting… How many more efforts will be made to say that “it’s the best thing to breastfeed, and if you use formula, you are killing your baby”. Come on… give people a choice without forcing them to pick what you think it’s best. The best is what works for parents; Not every mom can wake up few times during night to breastfeed the baby, and then go to work in the morning; not every mom can affort breast pump and location/time during work hours for pumping milk; and not every mom can afford not to go to work, and to stay home for a year+ in order to breastfeed her child.
    If you really want to promote breastfeeding, provide longer maternity leave after the delivery. Mothers need to go back to work after 8-12 weeks, but breastfeeding should continue for at least 12 months? If you want to promote breastfeeding, provide conditions for that. Not offering formula is just a way for hospitals to cut cost.

  3. by Karli

    On November 30, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Ridiculous. I am extremely FOR breastfeeding, but i am NOT for punishing those who cannot do so. I went into the hospital to have my son thinking i would be able to breastfeed, and planning on doing so. Therefore, i had no formula at home. Unfortunately, after a stint in the NICU and a nurse giving my son formula without my permission, as well as a previous breast reduction, i was unable to express milk. Luckily, my hospital provided me with enough samples to last for a day or two once we were able to leave the hospital. Had they not, i would have came home to a house with no food for my newborn. I would have no idea what kind to purchase, now was i in any condition to go to the store. My boyfriend and mom both had to go to work right after dropping me and my son off at home, so thankfully this pushy standard was not practiced at my hospital.

  4. by Stephanie

    On December 1, 2011 at 12:51 am

    I think this is horrible! I had my son 7 years ago by emergency c-section…..they put me under because my placenta had detached…..my son was born 4 weeks early and was in NCIU for almost a week….you think I could breastfeed? My milk dried up before I could even hold him….so your not forcing mothers to breastfeed but not offering the formula at the same time? Wow….remind me to NEVER EVER live in Rhode Island……thanks to our politically correct country, this is what we pay for? Yeah it’s absolutely all about cutting cost!

  5. by Julie

    On December 1, 2011 at 7:56 am

    the article specifically says it will still be offered for mothers who cant breastfeed. the economy is so bad right now and hospitals should cut costs on things like this. instead of firing nurses. your more than welcome to bring your own formula! and how about for ONCE instead of the people who feel guilty for not breast-feeding taking this personal, just stop and let the moms who did do it feel proud that their choice is proving over and over again to be healthier!

    and the excuses up there are silly? cant afford a pump?!?! if u cant afford a 30 dollar manual pump then u are pretty screwed for formula, it costs way more than that! some people truly cant nurse and thats fine. and if u just chose not to, fine! but the excuses are silly.

  6. by Elphi

    On December 1, 2011 at 8:01 am

    It does say that formula is still available for those who are unable to breastfeed. “Formula will still be available to new mothers who experience difficulties with breastfeeding.” Read the entire story before judging.

  7. by moira

    On December 1, 2011 at 8:24 am

    remind me NEVER to live in RhodeIsland!! i left for the hospital sure that i would breastfeed and purchase no bottles or formula. after 48 hours of labor, 6 hours of pushing, i had an emergency c-section. i tried my damndest to breast feed my daughter. on the 3rd day of her life and after 12 hours of straight crying, a senior nurse convinced me to give her formula. fortunately she did, i had a breast reduction 10 years ago and my milk never came in. i was breast feeding every 3 hour and pumping 1/2 way between feedings. i never got more than 1/2 to an 1oz, during 30 minutes of pumping. with out the guidance of the nurses and samples sent home with me, my daughter would have quickly starved.

  8. by Kate

    On December 1, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Not being able to breast feed is not the only reason a mother might choose formula. Just like some parents may choose to raise their children vegan or may choose to serve them Happy Meals at eight months, some parents choose to feed their children formula. It is most certainly the best choice for some families and formula-fed babies grow up just as healthy and intelligent as breast fed babies. Taking these free samples away is one more way to make non-breastfeeding mothers feel even guiltier about an already tough decision. Formula samples are given to the hospitals by formula companies in order to gain new customers.

  9. by Heather

    On December 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

    This is BS!!! Not every mother can breastfeed-for many reasons. We should not be made to feel like we’re bad mothers or ignorant. Both my brother and I were formula fed as well as my husband and all 5 of his siblings. We are all healthy and intelligent people. I know kids who have been breast fed and they are sick a lot. As for myself, my brother and my husband and his siblings we were hardly sick growing up.
    You look to health professionals-i.e.nurses for guidance and help while in the hospital. But they are not there to raise your child. Having a baby is supposed to be as stress free and beautiful as it possibly can. You want to enjoy your new role as a mother. Not be made to feel like you are doing it wrong and unfit.
    My hospital stay was wonderful and I loved it. Mainly because the nurses and staff were very accommodating,supportive and extremely kind.
    New parents have enough to think about and taking away the free samples sends a very negative and hurtful message.

  10. by Angelia

    On December 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Samples are given to doctors and hospitals in order to gain new customers for their products. It does not cost the hospital, but you can bet your bottom dollar, they charge you for it. It’s freaking ridiculous!!!! Not all of us can or want to bs. I tried the cloth diapers and breast feeding with my first child and she wasn’t getting enough nutrition, I ended up with a severe infection from it and on antibiotics. Some people might just not want to breast feed.

  11. by Kris

    On December 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    If the hospitals do not want to spend the money on giving out free samples of formula, that is their choice. However, it is not with this motive the withdrawl of samples is being presented. It is to encourage breast feeding and Chaffee comments that it’s an important step in doing so. To say that it is not intended to “force women into nursing” and meant for “parental education and helping mother’s decide which is best” is ridiculous to say. The hospital has made it clear to the woman what she should do. Of course it causes an environment of inadequacy for mother’s who elect not to breastfeed. This is the last thing that a mom needs just after giving birth. Encourage breastfeeding, sure. But withdrawling formula under Chaffee’s pretense is wrong.
    And I am a mother of three under the age of three of which I have nursed 6months, 9months and one month, respectively.

  12. by Kristen

    On December 1, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I gave birth to my daughter in June. Tomorrow she will be 6 months old and I am still breastfeeding and plan on it until she is 1 or older. When she was in the hospital after she was born, she cried just about the whole time. Before I left the hospital, a nurse asked me if I wanted samples of formula. I told her I did not. She told me that she knows I’m nursing and she does promote nursing but my daughter might not be as fussy if I give her a little formula. I knew that wasn’t true. I know that a baby is born with a stomach the size of a marble and the colostrum that she was getting from me was plenty. I wish I could’ve let her know that when 4 days later we took our baby to her first dr’s apppointment she weighed 10 oz more than when she was discharged from the hospital. The doctor was so surprised that a baby gained that much weight that fast. She never had a drop of formula and has been a VERY happy baby.

  13. by Christina Schlosser

    On December 3, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Wow. After reading the responses to this article, I feel compelled to share my experience.I am 32 years old and mother to 4 children who were all breastfed until they naturally weaned themselves around the age of 2. I exclusively breastfed until solids were introduced around six months. Other beverages were offered by cup after six months such as diluted juice and water, however, not once did they ever have a drop of formula. My kids were not sick with the cold or flu nor did they have GI problems, constipation, or colic. Many of my friends who did not breastfeed experienced these problems with their children regularly. My children met every milestone quicker than average, including potty training,and my two oldest children are a year ahead in public school and have greater than 165 IQ’s. My kids are perfectly proportioned and do not have issues with overeating either out of boredom, stress, or anxiety. They learned to eat when they were hungry not when a bottle was stuck in their mouth. This is very important because many bottle fed babies are fed a bottle to pacify them when often times babies are not even hungry but crying because of a variety of other reasons. This teaches bottle fed babies that food is the remedy to any physical or emotional discomfort. Moreover, formula companies suggest feeding babies far too much because they want you to buy more formula, further leading to the epidemic of of overweight and obese children so prevalent today. This is really sad, because the fat cells you develop through the age of 2 will stay with you for your entire life. They can shrink in response to a healthy diet, but they will never disappear, and as soon as your diet is not as healthy, you will gain weight all the faster. Breastfeeding is not easy, it is a learned skill. The first thing you must learn is that our perception of serving sizes is very distorted. Mothers who claim they do not make any or enough milk… First and foremost, YES, you do and YES, you can. Very FEW mothers can NOT breastfeed. You might NOT WANT to breastfeed, you might not have the time or patience or strength to persevere… Perhaps you simply want to return to your previous lifestyle which might not coincide with breastfeeding (drinking, smoking, poor diet, etc) This is your right and your choice. But please do not make excuses, just be honest with yourself. As for not making enough milk, these mothers typically expect to pump out 4-6 8 oz bottles a day because that is what a formula can suggests… this is absurd. Breast milk is far more complex/concentrated in nutrients and besides that, your baby does not need that much food! I did not pump often but when I did I pumped 2-4 oz out of each breast every 3-4 hours. This was when my babies were breastfeeding exclusively and frequently and I was at the height of my milk production. I can only imagine that this is because this is the natural amount a baby would drink if we did not decide for them how much they should drink. Also you can never start out using a pump. You must BOND with your baby at BREAST first. Letdown only occurs when you feel a connection with your child. After you are experienced you can start using the pump but be sure to have a photo of your child to look at otherwise it will not flow out easily. If you work and can’t afford a pump, you don’t need one… you can express it by hand. Breastfeeding is not easy in the beginning…it is uncomfortable with your first child until your nipples toughen up get used to it and you will have to get up to feed the baby– but you have to get up to feed bottle fed babies too. All my babies slept right next to me, so I was not inconvenienced at all. They even learned to find my breast and latch on while I was sleeping. It was so convenient too when traveling, nothing to bring or wash or sterilize, I just needed a well hydrated me. An interesting bit of information– Neither I or my husband were breastfed nor were any of my siblings. My own mother was not supportive of my decision to breastfeed and was constantly trying to undermine my decision, especially in the beginning. Much like the way the formula companies do,she suggested supplementing with formula too, and laced it such a way that it sounded like she was trying to help me… “Oh, honey, I know you are exhausted, why don’t you let me take the baby so you can get some rest.. one little bit of formula won’t hurt..” This is absolutely detrimental when you are trying to establish your milk supply. Do not fall for it. Formula companies know this and this is why they prey on new inexperienced and exhausted mothers with formula samples, checks, and coupons.Formula companies do not want you to succeed at breastfeeding anymore than tobacco companies want you to quit smoking! Lastly, as a nurse, I can attest that neither hospitals nor patients incur any fee or cost for the formula, the samples are free and the formula companies PAY the hospital to distribute and recommend them, much like drug companies PAY your doctor to prescribe their medication.

  14. by Michelle

    On December 6, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    This is BS! Breastfeeding is a CHOICE! If women who breastfeed want respect for their choice they have to GIVE it too! There are many reasons women do not breastfeed. The reasons are nobody business. Almost ALL of my friends breastfed their kids some extended breastfed. I chose not to. MY choice. Respect it!

  15. by ashley

    On December 13, 2011 at 6:26 am

    I live in ri and gave birth in marxh. My sons were born a monh and a half early, and thwy made me feel guilty about not breast feeding after having a c section! When I finally tried it was because I felt pressured and like a bad parent. My sister gave birth a month later she wanted to pump instead of breast feed and they would not let her! Breast is not always an option. That sample might help a parent through the first week before they can move around for a formula visit

  16. by Abby

    On December 23, 2011 at 8:58 am

    I think this is very good. I live in NJ. I made it clear from the get-go that i was breastfeeding, and I made it clear that under no circumstances should my baby be offered a bottle and that I was not interested in formula samples. However, when I got home to my surprise I discovered over a dozen formula samples in my bag (they gave out a free diaper bag, which I of course took)! Talk about tempting me to stop breastfeeding. sheesh.