Nothing in life is ever really 'FREE'

I am confused. And I don't want to add fuel to the fire of the ridiculous and never ending how you feed your baby Mommy Wars, but I am serious. I am really confused.

New Your City has a new initiative called "Latch On NYC". It is aimed at promoting breastfeeding in the city's many hospitals. In order to do this, the plan is to limit access to "free" formula samples and any advertising and marketing materials from the formula companies that are distributed to new mothers and their babies in the first few hours and days after birth.

And there is a lot of hulabaloo about it all over the interwebs this week. Especially because it is World Breastfeeding Week.

A lot of people are quite upset about it and like in this article from Cafe Mom think that this is removing a woman's choice in how she feeds her baby (it is NOT). Some media outlets are sensationalizing their headlines and falsely interpreting it as a BAN on formula in hospitals (again, it is NOT). Some are using all those ugly words again, like bullying, breastapo, etc.... to describe the initiative and the counselling that mothers will (and should always) receive about breastfeeding while still in hospital.

The source of my confusion in all of this goes back to my first paragraph. You see those airquotes around the word FREE?

Yeah, that.

You know that old saying that if it something seems to good to be true, it usually is? I think this applies here.

Because in the long run, there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING  "free" about the formula samples that are given to new moms in hospital. NOT. ONE. DAMN. THING.

Here is just a short list of what is the COST of these freebies:

1. The average cost to formula feed an infant for the first year of life is in the range of $1350.00 to $2160.00 and can be as high as $5000.00 if the child needs a specialty formula. NOT FREE.

2. Research PROVES that giving formula in the first few hours and days after birth can significantly compromise the breastfeeding relationship between mom and baby. No more breastfeeding = more formula = NOT FREE.

3. On most cities Food Bank MOST NEEDED ITEMS List you will ALWAYS see Baby Formula. And this one really gets to me. So often it is the lower income families that seem to get the least amount of support and information about breastfeeding. They leave the hospital with samples of the most expensive brands of formula and then can't afford it on their own! DEFINITELY NOT FREE.

4. The public health and economic savings that could be had with more breastfeeding versus formula feeding are well documented as well. For most working parents (especially in countries with no paid maternity leave), babies who are sick more = parents who have to take time off of work = lost wages = NOT FREE.

5. The only thing that IS free here is the free advertising and marketing that the formula companies are getting from hospitals and health care workers. This is a quote from Dr. Laura Sinai, from the American Association of Pediatrics 2012 Leadership Forum taken from the ammendment to divest from formula marketing in pediatric care.

"There is no “gift” in a “gift bag” except that  from the healthcare system applying a seal of approval to the formula manufacturer without compensation. Research reveals that when a health care provider distributes a formula manufacturer’s goods, the recipient interprets that action to indicate that formula feeding is superior to breastfeeding and that the brand distributed is superior to the alternatives."

So Mamas, here is my request.

Before you believe all the hype and crying foul about New York's new breasfeeding initiative, lets really examine who is getting what for FREE here and see this initiative for what it has the potential to be. A really good step in the right direction for moms and babies everywhere!




P.S. If you would like a bit more perspective on this issue, I highly recommend that you read AskMoxie's post and also Dr. Jay Gordon's guest post from Susan Berger, IBCLC on the Huffington Post.


This is the Day 4 post for the Summer Blog Challenge {31 posts in 31 Days}.

Check out these great posts from our other participants too!

Zita at The Dulock Diaries.

Meaghan at MagzD Life

April at This Mom's Got Something to Say

and Aramelle at One Wheeler's World