Thanks to Carpundit for pointing out this Herald story yesterday. Apparently the state Public Health Council has voted to end the practice of hospitals giving out free formula to new mothers. The story quotes sources saying the move will promote breast feeding among new mothers and will curb the influence of marketing materials by the formula-making companies. Interesting.
We plan to bottle feed. It’s a personal choice. That’s that. We can afford to buy formula, so free formula isn’t going to make a big difference. Actually Susan and I had no idea that hospitals give out free formula until I read this story and told her they weren’t going to do it anymore. She was no less than stunned that a state board can set such a rule.
The argument of the breast versus the bottle has been gaining steam in recent years. Women’s groups have advocated for laws that wouldn’t prevent them from nursing their babies in public places. I, for one, agree. I’m not opposed to breast feeding in public. I simply look away.
Since we have been pregnant we have been warned by other mothers that many people will try to “encourage” Susan to nurse. I put encourage in quotes because it will be less a suggestion and more an insistence. Susan doesn’t want to nurse, and I support her. Actually, bottle feeding will allow me to bond with my child, too. This new regulation is further “encouragement” towards breast feeding, and it is being done in the name of saving mothers from the nasty marketing materials. Gosh, free samples be damned!
But this isn’t solely about the free samples and the marketing materials. It’s an agenda to promote breast feeding. If the Public Health Council were so worried about free samples and their marketing influence, it wouldn’t allow doctors to hand out free samples of Viagra or Ortho Tri-Cyclen. Both can be said to promote sexual intercourse when abstinence is considered by some as sound as breast feeding is to the Public Health Council. Why stop there? Maybe doctors shouldn’t be allowed to hand out blood pressure medication or cholesterol lowering drugs and instead they should counsel their patients to eat a healthy diet and exercise.
Why don’t they do it? Because they know that some people simply can’t. Despite any attempts to control my diet and exercise, my cholesterol is very high. It is hereditary and I need medicine to control it. If someday I couldn’t afford it, I would hope that my doctor would be able to give me some free samples until I could afford it. And mothers should be allowed to have the formula samples. Most mothers know going into the delivery room whether they will be breast or bottle feeding. Those who nurse can politely decline the formula. More for us.
The Public Health Council should ban all free samples or none; not pick and choose to satisfy some advocacy.