PORTLAND -- If you’ve had a baby, chances are you left the hospital with a gift bag carrying free infant formula. Now, there’s a national movement to ban the free samples.
Massachusetts just became the second state to join in the voluntary ban following Rhode Island.
Oregon would become third on the list if lactation specialists at Providence St. Vincent get their way.
The medical center stopped giving out the free bags with formula six years ago.
“It was diminishing women’s confidence with breastfeeding once they got home. You can be swayed by something coming from a hospital. It leads you to believe it’s the right thing,” said nurse supervisor Dori Onnis.
The banthebag website shows a list of more than 30 hospitals in Oregon which no longer give out the free formula. Onnis believes there are only a dozen statewide that still distribute the samples.
“When I go to conferences, they refer to Oregon as 'Lactasia' because of our high breastfeeding rates,” she said.
The Lactasia label is a response to breastfeeding rates from MPINK which show 90 percent of moms in the Northwest have given breastfeeding a try. After six months, 48 percent were still nursing their babies.
“All the information would indicate there’s greater breastfeeding success without the formula bags,” said Onnis.
The formula companies being pushed out of hospitals responded with this statement from the International Formula Council, “If parents are discouraged from using formula, they may resort to inferior methods of feeding which can cause serious deficiencies and put the infant’s health at risk.”
New mom Sara Shroll of Portland didn’t mind that St. Vincent didn’t give out the gift bags, “I think not having that right there makes you try harder at breastfeeding," she said.
When her son had trouble nursing, the hospital did provide free formula.
“If a baby isn’t getting nutritional needs met and enough mother’s milk is not available, we will supplement with formula,” explained Onnis.