Updated March 26 at 12:25pm
public policy

R.I. eliminates formula distribution to new mothers


PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island’s birthing hospitals have ended the practice of distributing free infant formula to postpartum women at hospital discharge, the first state in the nation to do so.

That milestone will be celebrated at a news conference scheduled for Nov. 28 at the R.I. Statehouse, featuring First Lady Stephanie Chafee, Lt. Gov. Elizabeth H. Roberts, Dr. Michael Fine, director of the R.I. Department of Health, and Marsha Walker, co-chair of Ban the Bags, a national campaign to stop formula company marketing in maternity hospitals

Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of some diseases, including breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Breastfeeding during infancy helps to prevent children from becoming overweight or obese during childhood and later in life. Furthermore, breastfeeding results in significant cost savings for families, the health care system, and for employers. Multiple studies show an association between the distribution of free commercial formula bags and decreased breastfeeding rates.

In October, Landmark Medical Center and Memorial Hospital joined Kent, Newport, South County, Westerly, and Women & Infants hospitals in eliminating the distribution of formula bags and enabled Rhode Island to claim the honor of being the first state to do so, R.I. Health Department officials said.


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This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard. Simply stopping the distribution of formula will not lead people to breastfeed. Most mothers have already decided before they even get to the hospital if they will breastfeed or not. How about an advertising campaign - public service announcement - about the benefits of breasfeeding instead of passively bullying people into it? Did the lawmakers consider mothers of multiples? Do they know how difficult it is to function let alone have to pump for multiples or breastfeed multiples? With the economy the way it is, many people are cutting maternity leaves shorter because they have to get back to work. Time is a factor in pumping. It was said that this will help low income families financially because breast milk is free. It is not free in the sense of how much time it would take to pump milk for a mother who MUST work in order to get by. If they have to get back to work, many women will choose formula because their lifestyle cannot support taking the time involved. Did you people think of the working poor at all? You are all sitting there in your pie in the sky upper middle class (or higher) world trying to dictate what is good for each individual. I think most people understand the benefits of breastfeeding. I breastfed my own children. This is akin to the school that is telling parents they can't pack a chocolate chip cookie in their child's lunchbox because for some reason, having a cookie will eventually lead them to be obese, etc. or because the other kid who can't eat cookies will be sad. How about just teaching kids how to make healthy choices? How about saying it's OK to have a cookie once in a while instead of this passive agreesive bs. I am so tired of "big brother" thinking we are all too stupid to make up our own minds that they have to intrude in our personal decisions by either taking something away or forcing some agenda on us. I'd like to see the studies that are spoken of as well. An "association" was found between giving out these bags and decrease in breastfeeding? Was there statistical significance? Who were the study subjects? What were they told about breastfeeding to begin with? Had they ever been exposed to education on breastfeeding? Had these women already decided to bottle feed before they even got to the hospital? Did their lifestyle truly hinder them from being able to breastfeed? Go back to the drawing board folks...you screwed up.

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