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

WakeMed no longer gives out free formula samples and diaper bags provided by formula companies in an effort to encourage continued breastfeeding.

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Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

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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