The Down Side of Birth Swag?

With the birth of my first child, I received from the hospital a diaper bag full of birth swag including a sample infant diaper, sample wipes, coupons, and a sample of formula. But a new study suggests that such goodie-bags are not so good after all, that free formula packages given to new mothers by hospitals undermine women’s efforts to breastfeed. In the New York Times Well blog, Tara Parker Pope reports:

“Women who received the packs were 39 percent more likely to stop exclusive breastfeeding at 10 weeks or sooner than those who didn’t receive free formula, according to the report.”

Hard to believe that a package of formula could be responsible for such a complex scenario! Makes you wonder if they considered other factors such as birth experience, support from spouse, return to work, etc. Then again, as the study concludes, the hospital is part of a marketing campaign implying endorsement of formula.

Use Your Words
Did you use the free formula? If so, was it useful and appreciated? Or was it the beginning of a supplementing slippery slope? Or does your goodie bag remain, like mine, fully stocked and forgotten in a basement heap of Craigslist-intended miscellany?

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2 Responses to The Down Side of Birth Swag?
  1. Laura
    March 31, 2008 | 6:42 pm

    I breast fed my first baby for almost a year, but it took more than 5 days for my milk to come in – so I had to supplement. I was grateful for the formula since I didn’t have much time to run out to the grocery store – and since formula is so expensive I was relieved to have some for free while I worked out my nursing issues.

    I find these studies make new moms feel even more guilty than they need to be.

  2. Esther
    April 16, 2008 | 6:44 pm

    I just finished reading the April edition of Mothering. It states these studies and tells about the Ban the Bags attempt and partial success in MA. It’s a great read. I can see both sides, but if you consider how many people are already being pushed to supplement from their pediatricians (mine included), then you can see why people would just use it and get used to the idea of formula.
    I don’t think that their is enough support on the other side of delivery for breastfeeding-from my experience and my friends. I breastfed my son until he was 14 months and plan to do it again with the next child due in Sept. I wonder what they used to do before formula was created… Something to think about.

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