No More Free Formula in Massachusetts

Baby BottleMy home state of Massachusetts is known as Taxachusetts and Governmentachusetts.

The latest is the state banning hospitals from providing free formula to new mothers. It is only the second state to do so. Media outlets claim it is a push by the breastfeeding coalitions to urge breastfeeding, rather than formula feeding, due to the health benefits of nursing.

Personally, I am not a big fan of this new policy. Having had a baby just three weeks ago, it was a huge help to go home with some formula even though I am a breastfeeding mother. With women being rushed out of the hospital because of insurance costs and requirements, you are often sitting at home in the wee hours of the morning with a starving newborn because your milk hasn’t come in yet. It happened with my first and it happened with my second. Having a couple of pre-made formula bottles on hand in those first couple days was a huge help in getting me over the hurdle. Especially since I couldn’t drive after having an emergency c-section and had no assistance in those first few days at home with a newborn and a toddler.

One could say that I should have paid for those six pre-made formula bottles. However, let’s face it, it wasn’t given to me for free. There is the argument that I did pay for it in my hospital deductible and in our monthly health insurance premiums. Others state that the formula companies are distributing it free of charge in order to get you hooked on their brand.

In reality, this change is going to affect low income mothers. I could go on about why and how, but in essence, since the state pays for formula for those individuals through Medicaid, it is a way to save the state money. Having a low-income mother choose formula over breastfeeding also costs the state money long term if she is on the WIC program.

So, is it really about the benefits of breast feeding? Or is it really about saving the state money? Shouldn’t women be able to decide what they want to do? Who should pay for it? Either way, what do you think?

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Image Credit: CR55 via stock.xchng.

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About Charlene DeLoach

As a Boston Mom Blogger in Massachusetts, Charlene DeLoach doesn't care about the megapixels on a smartphone. She only cares about whether it will survive being in the hands of her kids.

Comments

  1. Michael says:

    You didn’t pay for those bottles in your hospital deductible and health insurance premiums. Those bottles are given away by the formula manufacturers to try to increase formula usage (and specifically to increase usage of the liquid formula that they give away in the hospital rather than the much less expensive powder formula).

  2. I can tell you that I know that here in NYC, the formula given away at the hospital from similac, is purely promotional. (this is info i obtained from the maternity ward staff at NYU) At least it was 3 years ago when I had my last child. I also know that Similac distributed samples sizes to our pediatrician’s medical center for promotion too. Hubby was laid off during my last pregnancy and I can surely tell you that the 56 4 oz bottles that our pediatrician gave me was a huge help. And when we found that our son (2nd to last child) was lactose intolerant and allergic to whey, and he wasn’t gaining any weight from my milk, the sample cans of powder Similac Alimentum ($30 value – 2 day supply) that our pediatrician gave us was a huge help too during a time when we were both working but caring for 3 kids and preparing to have our last child. It would be a shame to see this banned in new york and i feel for the mothers in your state. This program benefited our mid-income family along with the Brand and I was grateful for it.

  3. I actually think it’s the companies that make formula that push too heavily to introduce formula to new moms when they are delivering. I remember feeling “marketed to” when presented with formula at the hospital.

    There really is too much influence by pharmaceutical companies and consumer products companies to doctors that this bill is trying to address. It’s the same concept that drug companies can no longer wine and dine doctors.

  4. Just like we pick out cribs and paint colors for our kids before they are born, we should be deciding whether we are going to breastfeed or not, or do what I did, which was a combination of both from day 1, despite being told that was not a good idea by the lactation consultant. There are so many variables to this important decision and I was personally made to feel guilty by the lactation consultant trying to do both, but this is frankly not an all or nothing decision. I’ve heard more stories about pushy and over the top lactation consultants causing people to eventually chose formula so they would go away, than I have formula companies pushing their brand of formula. When the nurses asked what I had chosen, I meekly said, I’d like to do both, and their response was, “Keri this is your baby and you as his mother are allowed to make that choice.”

    I fed my son breastmilk during the day either in a formula or a bottle until I felt like a cow, then supplemented with formula in a bottle, always at midnight. At 3 months he had blood in his stool due to a milk allergy and needed special formula after that because working full time I personally couldn’t manage all that and a dairy free diet.

    Yes some kids have difficulty breastfeeding, some also have difficulty sucking in general, no matter whether it’s a breast of a bottle for that matter despite whether it’s formula or breastmilk. As a parent and feeding clinician it is important to be informed on the possibilities and make decisions as you go, 1 day at a time but it’s important to have people around you that can effectively help you problem solve what’s best for your family and that includes having formula available as an alternative.

    We don’t pay out of pocket for our meals when we are in the hospital, formula should be available without any upfront cost.

  5. I think it’s ridiculous. The state shouldn’t have any power to decide whether or not people get free formula. And I personally am sick to death of hearing breastfeeding advocates talk about how much better it is. I was unable to breastfeed either of my babies for more than a few weeks because I never produced enough milk. And you know what? My kids, now 7 and 4, are both beautiful, healthy, and off-the-charts smart. I stress the healthy part – my kids are almost never sick. I have friends who breastfed for more than a year and their kids are sick ALL THE TIME. You couldn’t convince me that my kids fared worse for having formula. I think the media, lactation specialists, and especially the government should all just keep their mouths shut on the issue and let mothers do whatever they feel is best. As long as moms are feeding their babies, it’s nobody else’s business how they do it.

  6. This sort of thing really pisses me off. Not only does it cost some of us more money, but it suggests that we aren’t smart enough to make a decision for ourselves. I find it very hard to believe that free formula is the deciding factor for people choosing whether or not to breastfeed, but I know that when my son wasn’t breastfeeding and was jaundiced, I was VERY thankful for the samples they sent home.

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