NYC Bans the (Formula) Bags
In an effort to boost the number of new moms who breastfeed, New York City's public hospital system recently announced it no longer will give free baby-formula samples in gift bags for new mothers. Instead, gift bags will include "a breast-milk bottle cooler, disposable nursing pads, breastfeeding tips and a baby T-shirt with the slogan "I Eat at Mom's" emblazoned on the front.
Also as part of the program, breastfeeding consultants will visit mothers at bedside "to help initiate breastfeeding within one hour of delivery." Free breast pumps will be given away, and hospitals will provide hospital-grade electric breast pumps to mothers whose newborns have to remain in the hospital.
On the New York Times blog, readers weigh in on this controversial decision. Several people applaud the measure, saying among other things, the samples are just a big marketing ploy by formula manufacturers, and even impoverished women with nutritionally unsound diets can have enough breastmilk for their babies. On the other hand, many people call the initiative intrusive and say it's up to the mother to decide how she feeds her baby, whether by breast or bottle.