Access to infant milk formula should be restricted “more like prescription drugs”, a maternity group says.

Hospitals were right to require new mum’s to sign a consent form if they want their babies fed formula, said Brenda Hinton, a spokeswoman for the Maternity Services Consumer Council, reports NZ Herald.

“In principle I don’t have a problem with it. But the policy needs to be actioned sensitively, so women understand why this is happening.”

“If a parent is making an informed choice to feed a baby infant milk formula that’s their right.

“I do think as a society it would be a good idea if formula was treated more like a prescription drug, something that you use if you are unable to breastfeed.”

The Waitemata District Health Board in NZ, is among 18 DHB’s nationally to require completion of an informed consent document before a baby is fed formula.

However, Isis McKay, the maternal and child health manager of Women’s Health Action, disagreed with Ms Hinton’s idea of requiring a prescription to get infant formula.

She said providing information about infant formula to parents who wanted to use the products was important, but the objections raised by some women to the informed-consent system indicated it needed to be re-assessed.

“While we understand the importance of supporting women to make informed choices around infant feeding, we do think it is time for a change in how we provide information and support to people who need to or decide to use formula.

“There is so much misunderstanding and misinformation around.”

Comments include:

“While I am a huge breast feeding advocate and disagree with formula feeding by choice without even trying to breast feed, no one should have the right to take away a moms choice because it is her body. I do however think that the insane amount of advertising needs to stop. Formula should not be advertised at all.”

“No. We need to work on breastfeeding education and support, particularly within medical staff. Making formula harder to access isn’t going to increase breastfeeding rates, it’s going to endanger children.”

“You can’t do that until we have systems in place that support women breastfeeding.”

“No, this would make the divide even worse. We can’t restrict access to life saving formula, there are so many reasons to use formula: maternal death, adoption, CPS cases on and on. And I know we all can relate to difficultly acquiring needed prescriptions in a timely manner.”

“Seriously? Let’s put more stress on new mums by making formula prescription only… ”

“Utterly ridiculous, whatever happened to freedom of choice??? I’ve breastfed two children but I’m astounded at this suggestion, beyond words!!”

Share your comments below.

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  • No. I agree breast feeding is good, but it’s not for everyone. This is stupid.


  • Oh my gosh, things are getting more and more ridiculous.


  • What next!!! What would happen if a Mother suddenly because too ill to breastfeed her baby? It would be impossible for the Mum to get a prescription and take it to a pharmacy. What happens if a Mum suddenly stops producing milk with no warning. and is too young to be given cows milk?


  • It might seem a step too far but, in Australia, I think it might actually be a step in the right direction in respect to current formula access restrictions. Maybe in Australia it might be needed as it is about ensuring availability to those who need it, when they need it.


  • It does seem a step too far!


  • I agree if it was on prescription then certain people would not be able to send so much overseas but it would disadvantage the people who need it for their own babies. As it is, the stores limit how many people can get but it doesn’t stop them from putting it in their car and coming back in for more. Let’s NOT put it on prescription and let Mother’s feed their babies the way that’s best for the health of both Mother and Baby.


  • One of my babies was unable to keep normal formula down once I was no longer able to breast feed around 9 months and had to have a special formula that the government had to agree to my purchasing. It was a pain for the pharmacist, but I was OK with it, so can’t see any problem if formula did become a prescription only product. It would stop all our formula going overseas at least.


  • But I don’t understand. Why Chinese buy so much formula? To send to China and sell there?


  • That’s one way to stop the Chinese people stocking up formula, which is certainly a big problem


  • What an absolute crock. If formula went onto prescription, it should only be to ensure that mother’s who want to use it are actually able to get it instead of it being swiped from the shelves as soon as it gets there… not because boob nazis want to push their agenda. I’m offended enough that every formula add or website already includes the breast is best statement.

    We should be able to choose how we feed our children and what is most comfortable for each family… we shouldn’t be governed by boob nazis who can’t see any other thought or idea that doesn’t fit in with their agenda.


  • Why make the divide harder and the stigma greater.?


  • Oh my goodness, crazy. How could they possibly have it for perscription only, I think the Chinese are ruining it for everyone with their ‘buying up big’ on the formula.


  • I disagree mothers should be given informed choice to to breast ot bottle feed their newborn. But to put milk formula is going over board. What if the mother could’t for some reasons go to doctor for new prescription? This need to be discussed rationally so that the babies are not the losers in the end.


  • I think it’s a great idea! Stops all the Chinese from taking it all from the shops. Maybe have it as a prescription like the Pill. You get a prescription for 4 months or more.


  • No words. Ridiculous. A joke. Ill-informed. How dare they!? I had to bottle feed, not by choice. And made more difficult by months of sorting out the right formula until we settled on Goats Milk. As it was, my husband used to have to try to various suburbs as its availability was very limited back then. Back of Judgey Maternity Group. My son would not have grown or improved his health had we not had the easy access to this formula. Umm, and it wasn’t even that easy anyway.


  • It does seem odd. BUT thinking about it might stop all the greedy Chinese people hogging all the baby formulae to send off to China leaving not much for the Aussie mums who need it too


  • How ridiculous. It is none of anyone else’s business why you decide to formula feed this is just another way of shaming new mums!


  • Im a foster carer so i can’t breast feed
    What happens if I get a child late at night when my GP is closed
    What about people who adopt


  • I have mixed feelings about this- I am a huge advocate for breastfeeding and breastfed both of my babies and I definitely oppose anyone who formula feeds by choice without trying to breast feed as breast milk is what is best for the baby. However, on the other hand I think that people should still be able to choose what they want to do. That being said it wouldn’t be that difficult to get a prescription and by then the mother might have actually tried to breast feed a little.


  • This is such a frustrating argument. I wasn’t able to breastfeed my baby and it was agonising because I had wanted to so badly and everything and every professional was insisting it would happen. Medically we were required to use top up formula in hospital and when we left I pumped every two hours for 5 weeks, since pumping took an hour I spent half my time pumping and was either pumping or crying or both for those 5 weeks. I can only imagine how much more traumatic it would have been if I was required to get a prescription to give my baby the formula he needs. Lets not put any more pressure on Mum’s than we already do.


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