GR hospitals phase out formula samples to promote breast feeding

3:44 PM, Oct 30, 2012   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WZZM) - If you're expecting a child in the next several months, here's something you'll want to know - several Grand Rapids hospitals are joining a movement to ban formula samples from their birthing units in an effort to promote breast feeding.

It's part of a world-wide effort to help promote breast feeding.

By 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO)wants 81% of new moms' breast feeding as part of their Healthy People Initiative.

What new moms will notice is that the decision to formula feed will be met with a stronger encouragement towards breast feeding.  "What they will hear from us is, 'well these are the reasons.' Again it's about education and they are making an informed choice."

Mary Schubert is the director of Saint Mary's Birthing Center. She is helping the hospital move towards a certification as Baby Friendly.

One of the requirements is a nearly 100% rate of breast feeding.  "We want to get them out of the hospital still breast feeding."

And that's not the only change

"Now the babies stay with mom and dad. There's no separation between baby and parents, so they are learning the babies cues at an earlier point."

Schubert says in April, Saint Mary's began something called Skin to Skin to help promote not only bonding, but better breast feeding success.

"Now we put the baby right on mom's chest. So for the first hour mom and baby are right tight together skin to skin and the baby nurses within the first hour."

And that's exactly what happened for Janine Brookhouse and her daughter Molly.  "She came out and she was already sucking her thumb and ready to eat. She was eating within the first 15 minutes."

New moms will still be allowed to formula feed, Schubert adds. Moms will still make the ultimate decision.  "As far as when a mom says this is my choice, that is her choice to make."

Spectrum Health is also on track to stop the use of formula samples. They plan to end that tradition by this time next year.

Metro Health says that they will continue to encourage breast feeding but have no plans at this time to stop formula samples.

The states of Oklahoma, Massachusettes and Rhode Island have already banned free formula sample from all their hospitals.


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