Rhode Island Birthing Hospitals End Baby Formula Giveaways

Providence, Rhode Island — As part of efforts to support breastfeeding mothers, women who give birth in Rhode Island will no longer receive infant formula marketing packs when they head home from the hospital. Rhode Island’s First Lady, Stephanie Chafee, Lieutenant Governor, Elizabeth Roberts, RI Department of Health Director, Michael Fine, and Marsha Walker from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition’s Ban the Bags campaign joined the Rhode Island Health Department Monday November 28, 2011 in celebrating the state’s becoming the first in the nation to eliminate the distribution of infant formula marketing bags in all of Rhode Island’s birthing hospitals.

Director Fine, the Lt. Governor as well as the First Lady spoke of their commitment to breastfeeding families and their support of the hospitals’ efforts in this giant step forward in removing the commercial barriers to breastfeeding. State health officials noted that studies link giveaways to decreased breastfeeding rates, which is not in keeping with their efforts to promote optimal health for mothers and infants in Rhode Island.

For more information, see coverage in USA Today.

2 thoughts on “Rhode Island Birthing Hospitals End Baby Formula Giveaways

  1. I would just like to thank this ignorant organization for its efforts to shame and add to the guilt of new moms who make every effort to breast feed only to learn it is not feasible. My wife and I delivered our first child at W&I 6 months ago and were inundated with breast feed only propaganda from uneducated, biased, and closed-minded consultants who would attempt to shame my wife into breastfeeding at 2:00 a.m. when she was most vulnerable. When the feeding was unsuccessful, she was given conflicting advise depending upon which consultant she saw that night. When we would challenge any data and theory, we were met with cursory comments such as “they have done studies on it” or “trust me” as if we would’nt understand (I am an attorney, my wife a psychologist.) My son was and continues to be bottle fed and is as healthy as any baby. We will be certain to raise him to be a compasionate, well-rounded and educated person so that he will be able to tolerate organizations like these and understand that they just don’t get it. Please stop spreading ignorance.

  2. Hi Dana,
    Thanks so much for contacting us at BantheBags.org. We really do listen and value your views. I’m sorry you and your wife had such an unpleasant experience.

    We feel strongly that families do the best they can, and that everyone’s feeding choice needs to be respected. Sadly, many women make the choice to bottle feed without realizing how much breastfeeding impacts their own health, too, and not just the health of their infants. The longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of breast cancer, pre-menopausal ovarian cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Thus, the issue is not so much about parenting choices, but about supporting women adequately, including with informed decision-making.

    Your experience sounds typical of many peoples’, where your wife heard conflicting information. That is all too common and a big source of problems for families. This tends to happen because hospital staff are not adequately trained in management of breastfeeding. Chances are, your wife got this conflicting information from staff nurses, not International Board Certified Lactation Consultants, as hospitals almost never provide these IBCLCs in the middle of the night. IBCLCs also are much less likely to give conflicting information as they are required to have extensive training and experience to become certified.

    Your comments underscore a key to breastfeeding success, which is prenatal education. It’s vitally important that moms know what to expect when they deliver, one of those things to expect is that it will be much easier for your wife and child to learn how to breastfeed if the infant is breastfed around the clock, and sleeps in the same room as the mother. When this doesn’t happen, and when infant formula is given without a medical reason, the chances of failure at breastfeeding skyrocket. Families need to prepare for especially difficult nights, such as the third night of life, by resting more, turning the ringer of their phones, and asking visitors to wait until they get home.

    The real issue is that you and your wife got inadequate support. That is deserving of your anger, not your guilt. It would be very helpful for you to write to the hospital CEO and maternity nurse manager and let them know of your bad experiences. Hospitals really do listen, and it would help prevent other families from going through what you went through.

    When women experience the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding, they don’t tend to have the unfortunate experiences that you have had. Your hospital needs to hear that from you. And you should never feel bad or guilty. It was not your wife’s fault that things did not go well.

    Melissa Bartick, MD
    Ban the Bags

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