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What if new moms had to sign a waiver?

post #1 of 225
Thread Starter 
Here's an idea: what if every hospital maternity ward asked every new mother: "Do you want to breastfeed, or would you rather we feed your baby formula? The choice is up to you." Then if the mom said, "Feed my baby formula," the hospital would say, "Sure. Here are some free samples. You just have to sign this waiver first." The waiver would go something like this:

I am aware that by choosing to feed my baby formula instead of breastmilk, I am increasing his risk of dying of SIDS, lowering his IQ, increasing his risk of contracting diseases in infancy, increasing the severity of those diseases, increasing his risk of diseases in adulthood, increasing his risk of allergies...[We'll have to work on the exact wording here, since there are just so many risks to formula feeding, we have to pick and choose lest the waiver be too long.] I am also aware that by not breastfeeding, I am increasing my own risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and obesity.

If my baby or I becomes sick or dies as a result of this hospital feeding my baby formula, I will not sue this hospital.

Signed: Date:

Psychology studies have shown that people will make the right choice when it's the default, and making the wrong choice requires checking a box. If people realize that breastfeeding is the normal thing, and formula is dangerous enough to require a waiver, they might be more likely to make the right choice.
post #2 of 225
What if the mother in question is undergoing chemotherapy or has CF or hypoplastic breasts or has lost her breasts to cancer? Would they still have to sign the waiver? What about adoptive mothers? Should they sign too?

Formula has a purpose. Plenty of us who have had to use it feel immense guilt about it and do not need to be reminded that it is the inferior choice. Plenty do feel it is the default choice and that is more than unfortunate.

For many of us, the consequence of not using formula is the starvation of our child.

Formula is a tool that should be used judiciously and really isn't in our society, but I really dislike the idea of every mother having to sign a waiver. I think we can be lactivists without being anti-formula.
post #3 of 225
Thread Starter 
As I said in the first paragraph, this waiver would only be presented after mothers had made their choice, which implies they have a choice to make. If they have no choice, obviously they wouldn't need to sign a waiver about their choice.

Although this does bring up another issue: why do such women have no choice? If someone needs a blood transfusion, there are banks of donated blood for them. Hospitals don't make them get by with some inferior artificial blood. Ideally, society should have human milk banks as an alternative to formula. Then mothers who can't breastfeed actually would have a choice.

I think this is a separate issue, which would be best served by a separate thread. This waiver would only apply to women who have a choice, so let's discuss that in this thread.
post #4 of 225
Surely you're joking.
post #5 of 225
At the hospital where DDIL had her baby, they give out something very much like that at prenatal check-ins. The mother is given a form on which she checks off her infant feeding preferences, on which is printed out a statement that babies who do not receive breast milk are more likely to get juvenile diabetes, certain childhood cancers, obesity, diarrhea, colds, ear infections, allergies, exzema, or bowel disease, and are more likely to be hospitalized in the first year; that mothers who BF are less likely to have PP bleeding problems, are more likely to lose their pregnancy weight sooner, and have a reduced risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis. It also includes a comment on the immune properties of colostrum and breast milk. The statement concludes: "Sometimes formula is necessary, and can even be life-saving, but it is better to avoid it when possible." Every pregnant woman who comes in is asked to read this before filling out her feeding preference form.
post #6 of 225
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
Surely you're joking.
Um, which one of us, about what? Pumpkinhead seemed to think that maternity ward nurses would ask a mother who had lost both breasts to cancer if she wanted to breastfeed. I guess clueless nurses might, but I'm not one to engage in such gallows humor.

Some hospitals require a woman to sign a waiver before they'll let her try a VBAC. If one of their patients is choosing to engage in behavior known to be risky, why shouldn't they make her sign a waiver first?
post #7 of 225
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
At the hospital where DDIL had her baby, they give out something very much like that at prenatal check-ins.
Awesome! I wondered where this hospital is, and then I noticed you're from Canada. Could you send some missionaries down here to civilize us?
post #8 of 225
Sorry to be unclear. My remark was directed to you, TheLoud.

Women who plan to BF don't need the waiver. If your point is to change the mind of women who plan to FF, is a sledgehammer a better persuader than education and support? I don't think so, imho.
post #9 of 225
i am actually surprised you don't already have to. not a waiver to allow FF but a waiver to allow someone besides you to feed your baby. the night nurses while i was in the hospital were really gung ho about having the babies sleep in the nursery. i kept saying no and they kept asking me and asking me over and over again. they said they would finger feed him. i finally gave in and then found out i couldn't sleep without him.

so i don't know why they were so enthusiastic about the babies being in the nursery but since they are i guess hospitals don't really see a problem with it. my cousin spent every night in the nursery while they were in the hospital. she bf for a week or two after that but thats it. it seems like it could be a liability though... who knows maybe its included in the other wavers.
post #10 of 225
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
Sorry to be unclear. My remark was directed to you, TheLoud.

Women who plan to BF don't need the waiver. If your point is to change the mind of women who plan to FF, is a sledgehammer a better persuader than education and support? I don't think so, imho.
this is sort of what i thinking about when i said the night nurses really pressured me to let them take DS while i slept. for a mother who wants to breastfeed but doesn't know that bottles or w/e interfere or doesn't know about supply and such she may let the nurses take her baby at night and then have trouble bfing because of that.
post #11 of 225
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLoud View Post
I am aware that by choosing to feed my baby formula instead of breastmilk, I am increasing his risk of dying of SIDS, lowering his IQ, increasing his risk of contracting diseases in infancy, increasing the severity of those diseases, increasing his risk of diseases in adulthood, increasing his risk of allergies...[We'll have to work on the exact wording here, since there are just so many risks to formula feeding, we have to pick and choose lest the waiver be too long.] I am also aware that by not breastfeeding, I am increasing my own risks of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and obesity.

If my baby or I becomes sick or dies as a result of this hospital feeding my baby formula, I will not sue this hospital.

Signed: Date:

Psychology studies have shown that people will make the right choice when it's the default, and making the wrong choice requires checking a box. If people realize that breastfeeding is the normal thing, and formula is dangerous enough to require a waiver, they might be more likely to make the right choice.
I don't think that many psychology studies have been done in labor and delivery wards.

The verbiage you suggest is strikingly similar to what I recall of the waiver I was required to sign before I had an epidural. Additionally, three weeks before my due date, my OB gave me an informed consent form in which it was explained that, as a result of being pregnant and giving birth, I might suffer and die. The exact forms that my suffering and death might take were laid out in some detail, with the probabilities of occurrence for each type of suffering and death helpfully provided. I signed both forms.

So first, I think that new moms giving birth in hospitals have seen enough scary forms in the recent past to cast their eyes over yet another one, roll those eyes, and sign. And second, I think this waiver is totally insulting to women who choose to, or need to, formula feed for whatever reason.

Hospitals are not all that good at distinguishing mothers who have a choice from mothers who don't. Indeed, the one may not be readily distinguishable from the other. If you have severe and intractable undersupply issues, you aren't going to know that on admission. If you had a double mastectomy in New York in your twenties, the records might not be in your file in Boston ten years later (and the L&D staff might not have time to review those records in detail and might not see it even if it was there, and if you have reconstructive implants, or are small-framed and they assume you're just flat... no, they can't tell just by looking). If you have a history of traumatic sexual abuse that means you cannot bear your breasts to be touched, you might not have mentioned it to anyone. So I think we have to assume that *every* mother, regardless of her ability and regardless of her actual feeding choices, would wind up asked to sign this waiver.

We do have human milk banks, to which there are a shortage of donors. Milk from banks is available by prescription only, generally at some cost to recipients (the last quote I heard was $3 an ounce, but that was years ago, I'm sure there's some financial assistance available for desperate cases), but there isn't nearly enough of it to be given to every single infant who is not breast fed.

By a strange coincidence, blood banks also face shortages all the time. THe day they invent a usable substitute for human blood, the Red Cross and every ER staff in existence will throw the world's biggest party. Because there is no such substitute, some people who would benefit from transfusions can't have them.
post #12 of 225
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
Women who plan to BF don't need the waiver.
They'd never even see the waiver. Is the first paragraph of my original post not showing up or something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by griffin2004 View Post
If your point is to change the mind of women who plan to FF, is a sledgehammer a better persuader than education and support? I don't think so, imho.
I completely agree with you. Of course education and support would be much, much better than this, but do American hospitals provide such? No. Read 1littlebit's posts. Did those nurses have any clue about how to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship? No. Will hospitals provide education and support any time soon? No. That would require a huge program to reeducate hospital personnel and change a lot of policies.

What do hospitals do? They do surgery, provide drugs and formula, and try not to get sued. They are not in the education and support business. That's why a sledgehammer like this waiver would fit right into their existing policies and procedures.
post #13 of 225
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLoud View Post
They'd never even see the waiver. Is the first paragraph of my original post not showing up or something?
It shows up fine. I, at least, think that most hospitals would ask all mothers to sign it anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheLoud View Post
I completely agree with you. Of course education and support would be much, much better than this, but do American hospitals provide such? No. Read 1littlebit's posts. Did those nurses have any clue about how to establish a healthy breastfeeding relationship? No. Will hospitals provide education and support any time soon? No. That would require a huge program to reeducate hospital personnel and change a lot of policies.

What do hospitals do? They do surgery, provide drugs and formula, and try not to get sued. They are not in the education and support business. That's why a sledgehammer like this waiver would fit right into their existing policies and procedures.
No, that's why a sledgehammer like this would have no effect on women's choices.

If the hospital gives you this waiver to sign about your feeding choice, but offers no education or support for the alternative feeding choice, well then, gosh, there you are with a waiver in your hand that says all kinds of awful things and no more idea of how to have a successful breastfeeding relationship than you had before you read it. And you just had a baby, so you're knackered, you've got hormones running through you that make puberty look like a walk in the park on a sunny day, and depending on how the birth went you may feel, physically, anything from just peachy to remarkably like dog vomit. You may or may not be on morphine. If there isn't a lactation consultant on staff and you don't already know where to find one, you are unlikely to feel up to doing this piece of research now. If you said, fine, I'll formula feed, you may now be extra grouchy, but you are no closer to breast feeding than you were before you saw the form.
post #14 of 225
I'm all for educating health professionals, changes hospitals so they are baby-friendly, providing education and support, pumps and pillows, household help, whatever it takes.

I'm opposed to harassing women who've just given birth.
post #15 of 225
Do you find that guilt trips and threats are a good way to change your kids' behavior? Or do you only recommend that for other adult women?
post #16 of 225
Holy smokes - is this for real? I have to tell you, it is truly disheartening to see posts like this. Just like chfriend said...I'm opposed to harrassing women who have just given birth and Rivka5 has an excellent point too. Why do you feel the need to pick like that? Sure, we all want to see bf the norm but throwing stuff out there like your original post is not going to get the job done. No matter what, there are women who will FF. I had to supplement my 3rd child and it nearly killed me. It got to where I wouldn't even check this forum for fear of seeing crap like this. Why don't you concentrate on setting a good example? Try a little compassion. Breast feed in public whenever and wherever you can. Gently and intelligently answer questions. Praise breastfeeding women...anything but guilt trips. Whew.
post #17 of 225
Quote:
Why don't you concentrate on setting a good example? Try a little compassion. Breast feed in public whenever and wherever you can. Gently and intelligently answer questions. Praise breastfeeding women...anything but guilt trips. Whew.
This. And none of my 5 children have *ever* touched a bottle, let alone any formula, but frankly I think the idea of making a woman sign a waiver like that is ridiculous. What would the consequence be if the mom refused to sign it? Call CPS, let the baby go hungry, or what???
post #18 of 225
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpkinhead View Post
I think we can be lactivists without being anti-formula.
Quote:
Originally Posted by chfriend View Post

I'm opposed to harassing women who've just given birth.
Holy crap yes to both!! Esp the second! For those of you who gave birth in the hospital, think back to what you remember... I remember labour and birth and..... sleeping.... pooping for the first time PP..... going home. If DH wasn't there, I would probably still be in the hospital because they apparently came in, told me I was going home at 2, and I totally never heard them. DH had to fill me in on why he was bring in the carseat at 1:30

I would like to see an environment where formula isn't viewed as an 'option' as much as a medical supply. I think they should move it from the baby isle to the pharmacy. There are lots of people on insulin, but you can't just pick it up in the candy isle.
post #19 of 225
Quote:
What do hospitals do? They do surgery, provide drugs and formula, and try not to get sued.
Some do, yes. But ime, it was not true. I've had two hospital births, both unplanned, and both went very well and I felt the staff was very supportive. There was no formula pushing by the nurses. We did get the sample bag with the first one, but not the second. Both times the lactation consultant came to my room, presumably by request of the staff because I did not ask her to come. She was nothing but helpful.

Okay, so we obviously still have work to do in educating many hcp's, but I think we have a better chance of doing *that*, than we do of getting them to agree to have their patients sign a waiver.
post #20 of 225
I'm all for informed consent, and I think that all women should know the risks of formula feeding. IMO prenatal visits are the best time for health care providers to pass on this information.
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