Ellen Tolan, RD, LDN, IBCLC
Just in time for World Breastfeeding Week, there is great news for moms and babies! Massachusetts has officially become only the second state in the US to be Bag Free! All of our birthing hospitals and centers have voluntarily decided that they will no longer hand out formula company discharge bags. This is cause for celebration!
I remember having my first baby and telling the nurses in the hospital that I didn’t want a formula discharge bag. They gave it to me anyway, calling it a “breastfeeding bag!” The bag included a little information on breastfeeding, but it also contained formula samples and was clearly a way for formula companies to advertise their products. While some people may think the bag is helpful, it actually causes more harm than good in many circumstances.
Although some babies may need formula for medical reasons, most moms can successfully breastfeed. But in the first few days after leaving the hospital, breastfeeding mothers who are having some problems may find it hard to resist offering a little formula. Giving even small amounts of formula early on can decrease a mom’s milk supply, and it’s well known that women who use formula in the early days are more likely to quit breastfeeding sooner than they had wished.
If you are breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed, be sure to meet with your WIC Peer Counselor for breastfeeding tips and support. Although I had plenty of challenges in the first few weeks, I was determined to breastfeed, and I’m so glad I did. I had support from my family and friends, and I was able to nurse both of my sons exclusively for over a year. And, yes, the second time around I refused the “breastfeeding bag!”
Massachusetts hospitals are doing the right thing by promoting breastfeeding. Tell us what you think about this change. In the meantime, help celebrate World Breastfeeding Week. Ask your local WIC Program about activities in your area and visit www.worldbreastfeedingweek.org.