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Go Ask Mom

WakeMed stops distribution of free formula, pacifiers on demand to new moms

Posted May 10, 2011

I was headed out of town when this arrived in my inbox, but I wanted to share it.

Starting on Mother's Day, WakeMed Health & Hospitals discontinued the distribution of formula samples and diaper bags provided for free by formula companies. WakeMed will provide formula to infants for feeding when requested by the parent or guardian, but it will no longer give away formula samples. It also will no longer have pacifiers available on demand in the Women's Pavilion & Birthplace.

The steps are part of the hospital's effort to become a "Baby Friendly Hospital" as defined by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund (better known as UNICEF). UNC Hospitals also has been working toward the designation. The measures also are an effort to encourage continued breastfeeding because it is the best form of nutrition for babies, the hospital (and experts everywhere) say. Click here to read more about the initiative.

The free formula samples might seem harmless to some, but one study found they did lead to some women weaning more quickly early on. Read the abstract on the study by the University of Rochester School of Medicine for a lot more information.

Right now, the breastfeeding rate at WakeMed's Cary and Raleigh locations are close to or above the national average of 75 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2010 Breastfeeding Report Card. At WakeMed's Cary location, 98 percent of new moms breastfeed. At its Raleigh location, the rate is 72 percent.

“The staffs at both WakeMed Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital are working closely with the lactation consultants so they can offer new mothers the information and support they need. Our hope is that mothers leave WakeMed with the confidence and knowledge they need to continue breastfeeding their babies,” said Elizabeth Rice, director of the Women’s Pavilion & Birthplace, in a press release. “Of course, we will continue to provide support and education equally to those who chose to bottle feed their newborns.”

WakeMed is working to conform to these 10 steps as outlined by the baby friendly initiative.

1. Have a written breastfeeding policy that is routinely communicated to all health care staff.

2. Train all health care staff in skills necessary to implement this policy.

3. Inform all pregnant women about the benefits and management of breastfeeding.

4. Help mothers initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.

5. Show mothers how to breastfeed and how to maintain lactation even if they should be separated from their infants.

6. Give newborn infants no food or drink other than breastmilk, unless medically indicated.

7. Practice rooming-in -- allow mothers and infants to remain together – 24 hours a day.

8. Encourage breastfeeding on demand.

9. Give no artificial teats or pacifiers to breastfeeding infants.

10. Foster the establishment of breast-feeding support groups and refer mothers to them on discharge from the hospital or clinic.

And if you're breastfeeding right now and need help or support, please check our breastfeeding resource page. There are a lot of people out there who are ready to help you.


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  • mollieclaire May 14, 2011

    The commentary here makes me sad for America. We're already "hooked" on fast food and sugar, the public school lunch program in Raleigh schools is absolute garbage and now the non-breastfeeding crowd is throwing a conniption over their CHOICE not to feed their child(ren) with THE BEST food available? I applaud WakeMed for their decision to stop distributing formula freebies. NOT all formula is created equal. More importantly, its original purpose is not to satisfy the overwhelmed, under-informed and easily manipulated new parent. It is emergency food for an infant who does not have access to breastmilk. I hope that with this new policy there are free breastfeeding classes and ample support systems in place for new mothers, who would have been easily swayed to give up because "formula is easier and just as good".

  • creecht May 11, 2011

    Obstetricians need to do a better job asking pregnant mothers how they plan to feed their child, and then they can educate their patient accordingly. Mine never asked, but I wish they had. I was the mother of a big baby who was an uncooperative nurser, and my body would not provide enough milk. It was very depressed that I was not able to breastfeed. My child is three years old, and fortunately it doesn't bother me near as much as it used to.

  • jstewart3 May 11, 2011

    For those of you that think the hospital is simply supported in her choice - if that were the case, they would support both the breastfeeding AND formula feeding option. They are not. Instead they are pushing breastfeeding because THEY believe it is the best option. Bully for them. What is actually best for the child is whatever works best for the family in question. I am tired of the incessant push to breastfeed. Even though I did with my daughter, it was a HUGE turnoff to constantly feel like that option was being shoved down my throat and/or that I was a failure or hurting my child if I didn't breastfeed. Ridiculous. Besides, I have a really hard time believing one lousy free sample of formula pushed some women over the edge and convinced them to stop nursing.

  • unc94gal May 11, 2011

    Thank goodness I had my baby when I did so I could get some assistance with formula after discharge! I'm one of the 2% of WakeMed Cary moms who didn't breastfeed (that number CANNOT be true!), though I tried. In practice, I found the staff to be helpful and not pushy about the breastfeeding. It was my choice when to say "stop". However I feel these "steps" are stressful to new moms, especially #6 and #7. Moms need a rest in order to care for their babies, and these only add more stress. If they're going to do this though, they should offer more post-hospital support. WMC doesn't rent breast pumps so we had to go to the hinterlands of Holly Springs to get one.

    And give it a rest on the formula companies! They provide a product that allows babies to thrive, and just because they give 4 free sample bottles and a cheap bag away is not coersion. Every store has generic, and it's just as good!

  • justbcauz May 11, 2011

    I think this seems a little drastic and I think it puts even more stress on new mothers. Speaking from personal experience, breastfeeding was a complete bust with my first child. Even with the hospital breast pump, an ounce was a huge milestone. Our daughter had to be moved to the NICU for other reasons and after the first night of going back and forth, the nurses recommended that they bottle feed her for a few feedings so I could get a little bit of rest (when you aren't producing even an ounce, a 10 lb baby needs constant feedings). I continued to try for nearly 6 weeks once we were both home...with no improved results. My dr and the pediatrician both agreed that bottlefeeding was the best option for our family. Of everything going on at that time, the stress of breastfeeding (or not breastfeeding) was almost unbearable.

  • newssaavy72 May 11, 2011

    I breastfed 3 babies and think that this is great. With this economy, the free milk that God has blessed each mother with is a true blessing. I know that certain circumstances may arise to where a mother will not be able to continue or can't breastfeed. These formula companies should be ashamed to want to get richer and richer. Thanks to WakeMed to not be pressured into accruing incentives to promote formula! You will be broke trying to formula feed babies this day and age! It is not the healthiest alternative. Medela and the breast pump companies should be promoted to the fullest extent. Breast is best and I am encouraging my sister in law and my sister (who both will be first time moms this year) to breastfeed.

  • Social WorkerIII May 11, 2011

    Im here now, and as the headline states, they have STOPPED both the free formula and pacifiers. Meaning they are not an option at all. But if you really must have one you can go to and get the exact same bad of goodies. Its not important to me but it was something to look forward to getting once you and baby are ready to leave. I also feel like the breastfeeding "encouragement" is more so of a gentle push toward that option. Ultimately, you are the mommy and you decide what and how you want to feed YOUR child.

  • noelle8818 May 11, 2011

    It doesn't state anywhere in this article that these hospitals are forcing mother's to breastfeed. They still have formula and pacifiers available on request. What they are no longer doing is promoting formula. I think that's great!

  • skewlteachrmommy May 11, 2011

    Factually-no, they DON"T offer pacifiers on request. I requested a pacifier because we left the diaper bag in the car. I have a baby that has to have something in her mouth constantly. My husband had to go out to the car and get the bag because I could not nurse every thirty minutes and she cried if she didn't have something. I am still breastfeeding and have only used formula when I absolutely have too. It should be a mother's choice-not the lactation consultants that think they know everything. I requested multiple times for a lactation consultant with my first child and never saw one. With my second baby born this past December, I had a nurse that thought she knew everything and actually hurt me trying to assist me breastfeeding. Every baby is different and it should be mothers choice!!!

  • NCMacMan May 11, 2011

    Wakemed isn't pushing breastfeeding on all mothers. From what it sounds like, they want to make sure the mother makes an informed choice -- which really should be made prior to labor and delivery. What Wakemed is doing is removing the influence of corporations from influencing the mother's choice.