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US hospitals have banned supplying formula marketing materials and free samples to new mums.

With less than half of babies born in New York being exclusively breastfed in their first days, all 126 of the state’s birthing hospitals will now adopt the strict regulations.

The New York State Department of Health says hospitals will also need to tell new mums about the ‘risks of early pacifier use,’ because, ‘the use of pacifiers can interfere with the mother’s ability to recognise early feeding cues and make it difficult to establish breastfeeding’.

In a bid to lift breastfeeding rates, hospitals will now be prohibited from giving new mums gift bags that have formula marketing materials and samples.

Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker says the measures are aimed at supporting and encouraging new mums to exclusively breastfeed, until their baby is six-months-old.

The amended regulations require hospitals to place newborns with their mothers immediately after delivery, unless contraindicated. Studies find that infants who have skin-to-skin contact with their mothers have more stable heart and breathing rates, better temperature regulation and higher glucose levels. Both mother and infant are less stressed, and breastfeeding is more likely to be initiated.

“The amended regulations help ensure that we provide the support and encouragement new mothers need to breastfeed their babies and continue to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker.

“Research shows that breast milk provides unique nutrients and antibodies that help protect babies from diseases such as ear infections, lower respiratory infections and diarrhea, and decrease the risk of asthma, diabetes and obesity later in life. For women, breastfeeding lowers their risk for breast and ovarian cancer, as well as diabetes.”

Besides the early skin-to-skin contact requirement, the new regulations require hospitals to discuss with patients the risks of early pacifier use. The use of pacifiers can interfere with the mother’s ability to recognize early feeding cues and make it difficult to establish breastfeeding. Pacifier use is also associated with early termination of breastfeeding. Both the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Paediatrics recommend that pacifier use be delayed until one month of age, and that after six months of age, infants should be weaned from using pacifiers because of the increased risk for ear infections.

In addition, the amended regulations prohibit hospitals and affiliated clinics from giving out gift bags that contain formula marketing materials such as coupons or free samples to new parents, a practice associated with a shorter duration of breastfeeding. Most hospitals in New York have already voluntarily stopped distributing free formula and marketing materials, but the amended regulations help ensure that the remaining hospitals do so, too.

The new policies do not affect infants whose mothers have chosen formula feeding or for whom breastfeeding is medically contraindicated. Hospitals will still provide formula to those infants while they are in the hospital, and will be required to provide individual training in formula preparation and feeding techniques.

Does this anger you or do you think it is a smart move?

Share your comments below.

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  • They should encourage healthy feeding, no matter what way works best for the family. Bottle or breast, fed is best.

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  • As a mother of 6 children with long years between some. I breast fed my children and some needed formula to back it up. My oldest it was ready made bottles given out us for our babies. My 2nd one cracked my nipples on the 2nd day so he had to be spoon fed as would not take a bottle, never did. But my milk dried early with him and so was left with a nearly 6 month old child who hated formula and no matter how hungry he was would take a bottle. Had to make a mixture up the the baby nurse showed me. My 3rd child milk just poured out and he was fed up hill (lying on my back with him on top) for the first month. My daughter fed ok and the twins had formula back up due to my age (51). So yes if you can then do BF but do not let anyone force you to feed your baby the way they want.

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  • Can’t they just supply gift bags with no formula samples? The bags I got for my babies didn’t have formula samples. I loved getting them too, with info leaflets

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  • It is a way to stimulate breastfeeding. Why would you hand out gift bags with formula anyway ? Those are only produced by the company to let you try and hook you on their product.

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  • Each mother’s situation is unique and should be treated that way. It seems pointless to push a “one size fits all” agenda.

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  • Just because you produce breastmilk doesn’t mean that is necessarily the quality needed to sustain the nourishment your baby needs. Please don’t be put of by this but I am stating facts I know to be true. I know one Mum personally and of another one. Both were producing plenty of milk but it was like white water to a baby. ( one had 4 babies and for that reason they all had to be switched to formula – one of them lactose free).

    Reply

  • Again, another push to vilify mothers and their decisions. I agree that breastmilk is the best but a black and white approach never works for everyone. As a mum who breastfed one child and couldn’t for the other, I can see both sides to this story. I was made to feel like a monster for having a child on formula despite physical and medical reasons why I couldn’t breastfeed. All this will do will intensify the mummy wars. Why not have a balanced approach and have information on all ways to feed a baby.

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  • Hope this trial works – so many mums give up before they have really worked out how they and their child need to do it properly.

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  • An absolute load of rubbish! As the mother of two premature babies that were too tiny to breast feed and had dummies the size of their heads I can say for sure that it is rubbish! Both my little boys were fed through a nasogastric tube for weeks until they were strong enough to suck feed and then it was both bottle and breast! I am still breast feeding now at 10 months. All this does is add more pressure to the mums that are for some reason unable to feed themselves. Yes I think breast feeding is fantastic but I think it is way more important that mum and baby are not stressed and bub has a nice full belly!

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  • I have no idea how they can say this won’t impact mother who choose not to or cannot breastfeed. Both options should have adequate information provided to new and expecting mums. I was horrified at the way formula was spoken about by midwives and nurses after I had my son. you can’t just tear one option to shreds to make the other seem better. And yes, I’ve heard all the breast is best crud. But for many many reasons it’s not always

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  • Some babies like a pacifier to suck on after a feed while they sleep, then spit it out when they are hungry when they wake up

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  • I tried breastfeeding my first daughter and she didn’t latch on properly and I developed mastitis, so I had to stop breastfeeding and then I let her have a dummy. My second daughter latched on properly and didn’t even need a dummy. However the breast fed daughter developed asthma and the bottle fed one didn’t!

    Reply

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