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'Just in case' formula for BF mothers?

2388 Views 76 Replies 61 Participants Last post by  RockStarMom
I was reading the thread about hospital gift bags, and wanted to see how everyone else felt about the concept of a mother who is planning to breastfeed having formula samples/bottlefeeding supplies in the house, at the ready?

I tend to lean toward planning to breastfeed but having formula so accessible as potentially undermining. We all know what it's like during those early weeks and days, when breastfeeding can be challenging...engorgement, sore nipples, exaustion.

At least if the formula and bottles are at the store, it not only has to be a conscious choice but it also takes a bit more effort/determination to make a point of going to purchase the supplies...making supplementation less likely to occur in a foggy, zombie, dh or mil-just trying to be helpful haze.

I was determined to breastfeed, and I didn't want any formula in the house. I wasn't worried it would 'tempt' me, it just felt very...I don't know...I guess I felt like having the formula in the house would be a symbol of me lacking confidence in myself and my ability to nurse my baby.

I remember a friend's husband encouraging me, while I was pregnant, to lie to WIC and tell them I was formula feeding so I could "stock up" on formula for when I stopped breastfeeding. I told him that I wasn't planning to stop anytime before a year. He just sort of chuckled knownly and made some comment like, "You never know..."

Well, Quinn is 2 1/2 and still nursing...never had a drop of formula...and I'm very glad to have had WIC's help with milk, eggs, cheese, etc. rather than Enfamil.


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I had just in case formula, I just had all the samples the freakin formula companies gave me. I had bottles too, since I would be going back to work. My MIL liked to tell me about how she had to run out and find bottles and formula for my SIL when she "couldn't" breastfeed (no wonder, with support like that). My DH hid the formula for me and was instructed not to give it to me. THere were a few times I asked, and he said no, and then when things got really bad (tongue tie caused horrible damage for a while, then we got it fixed at one month, it took another month to work itself out) and I was screaming in pain at latchon he did get the formula out. We did supplement for a while too at the advice of a ped until I got the tongue tie fixed. I am happy to say that DD is now almost six months old and only uses her bottles to drink BM out of! So,it worked for us to have the emergency stuff on hand.
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I will not buy "just-in-case" formula. I believe that it can help undermine a new bfing r'ship--if you're exhausted and overwhelmed with a new baby, it must be so tempting to "just give one bottle" to make things "easier"--particularly if you have any "well-meaning" family or friends around who are not educated on bfing. Any introduction of bottles (or pacis) in the first few weeks seriously raises the odds of nipple confusion, as well. I also think it is a far better solution to call or see a lactation consultant if you're having problems than to supplement.

And beyond that...even if you're having difficulties, if you're not on a deserted island somewhere, you WILL be able to get formula (if you really need it) before your baby starves.
I was given a sample bag at the hosptial and used the formula once when I had to leave ds1 and was worried about him not having enough baby food

He didnt take to it at all and for that I am grateful
I had to pump for 2 weeks when ds1 was a newborn so the one time i got really chapped nips I was able to give him breastmilk that I had stored in the freezer
I think formula should be at hand, but NO BOTTLES! I had formula, but I also had 2 SNS's, a finger feeder, and 10 cup feeders. Sometimes, especially if mom has low milk supply or baby is having trouble with latching, formula can be helpful, but no artificial nipples!
NO WAY! Formula has never been an option for me. I never even considered having "just in case" formula on hand. What is the point of that?
Here's one of my biggest pet peeves about the formula companies: At my OB's office, when you're very newly pregnant, they have you sign your name on these forms from the two main formula companies. (Obvioulsy this is optional, but didn't "get it" with my first.) Anyway - if you check the "I'm going to breastfeed" box, for the next 7 months you get formula samples in the mail. Lots of them. Cases and cases, actually. On the other hand, though, if you check the "I'm going to bottle-feed" box, you get NOTHING, because they don't need to try to entice you---you're already "hooked."

Isn't that sad, and totally unethical??!?!?

So that's why I recommend refusing the sample stuff from the OB's and hospitals. Enfamil and Similac are spending tons of $$$ trying to ruin the mom/baby breastfeeding relationship. And I agree that having it in your house on some level decreases your confidence of your ability to BF. It's kinda like dieting, then keeping cake in the cupboard "just in case."
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I am against it. I think that if you have it, you are planning on it not working. You are doubting your body and it's ability to BF. And even subconsiously it underminds things, slowly eating away at you confinence. Like everytime you open that cupboard it is there. Everytime things are tough, and you open that cupboard it is there saying... "try me. Try me. It is easier, and 'just as good'. Try me!!"

(I posted this before, and keep a copy on my blog.)

That cute little bag, with bottles, ice packs and advice. It seemed so innocuous with the pretty print, and the smiley nurse handing it to me. The ready to serve formula, and even disposable nipples. Just in case you want it later.

When I was tired, confused, and barely a new mom, the hub tried to help. Oh, look, we have those bottles, the nurse must think it's okay, because she gave them to us. Let me just give the baby a bottle and give you a break, hon.

It always made things worse. Just one bottle makes baby fussy. Then comes the new spitup which doesn't wash out, and smells gross. The screaming, because she still wanted me. It always meant at least an hour of H... everytime he tried to give me a break with one of the GD bottles. Finally, he'd give up, and bring the baby back, I'd nurse and she'd calm down once that crap wore off. Without the bottles, he may have thought about other real alternatives, like giving the baby a bath, or just walking around the house showing her her new world.

I am angry that it could even happen. Oh, and the breastfeeding instructions from the formula company are downright fraud. Even worse that the What to expect hooha.

We have to stop this blatant comercialism. How can we even allow gifts intended for breastfeeding moms from such a questionable source? The free bottles leaked, the free cold pack wasn't good enough to cool down the milk, the a$$vice was intended to get you on formula. Very effective marketing, but not good for babies.

The 'gradual' advice which just arrived with more free formula took 8 days to replace all daytime feeds with formula. I wonder what's in their DHA supplement for nursing moms?
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When my first was a tiny baby, we had a blizzard warning. I stood in the baby aisle looking at the formula. When DH asked WTH I was doing, I said I was thinking of buying formula "just in case."

"Just in case what?" he asked. "Just in case your boob freezes off."

It really is dangerous. I had trouble with Michael nursing and that just-in-case formula was sitting there on the counter, calling me. Blessedly, my husband threw it out, but it was extremely tempting.

It's not a coincidence that they send more "free" formula to women who mark that they are planning on breastfeeding.
I got that free formula in the mail, but it never crossed my mind that it was mine to use. I was going to donate it and never thought about opening it. I had a very hard 6 weeks, but never once thought of giving a bottle of anything other than pumped BM.
In the area where we live, you'd be hardpressed to NOT find a store that is open 24 hours a day where formula could be purchased in the case of an emergency (I can't really think of an emergency situation like that now, but maybe others can). I see no reason to keep any formula on hand "just in case." I think instead of gathering formula samples for a "just in case" moment, I'd rather have numbers of LLL leaders (many are totally okay taking very late night or early morning least the ones I know) and/or lactation consultants, or the number of the OB nurses at the hospital. I would rather have a copy of a good breastfeeding resource book or a list of good websites ( comes to mind).
With my dd I was given the hospital bag and a 6pk of ready to feed formula I never thought of using it tho. With ds who was born at a birth center formula was never mentioned.

I honestly never had trouble nursing either of mine thank the good Lord but I can totally see how having the stuff in the house would be just to much of a temptation and I honestly dont think any bfing mom should have it there "just in case. It would be to easy to use it when u are going thru those first weeks when u are the only one that can feed the baby and wishing for just a little break.

I got 2 cans of formula thru the mail cant member what kind but i thru it in the trash.
With many stores being open 24 hours a day and all of them having tons of formula I never felt compelled to have it on hand. If my child ever truly needs something other than bm someone will just have to stop at one of the many retailers within minutes of my house and buy it. I hope that day never comes.

It is very frustrating that the companies mail formula the way they do, it can easily undermind a bfing relationship that is going poorly and once formula is used it is a slippery slope. These companies know this. Sad sad sad
I never had a "just in case" stash of anything. But with my second baby I had "just in case" friendly mother friends who would happily offer donor milk if needed (I didn't need it, but it's always nice to know there are so many generous mothers willing to help). I'd think it more prudent to go to a LLL meeting before giving birth rather than stocking up on formula. Just my opinion!

- Krista
I am completely and utterly frustrated at hospitals giving out formula samples with their formula company sponsored diaper bags. What a way to undermine a mother's confidence in her ability to breastfeed her baby. As if the hospital didn't just spend two days undermining her confidence in her ability to give birth, I'm sure.
I gave birth to my middle son in a Catholic hospital and not only did they take all of the formula samples out and put good things in the diaper bags, they all strictly advocated against circumcisions.
Of course, my youngest was born at home so that was never an issue. I would never have formula around just in case. If I have problems with breastfeeding, I can call my LLL leader or just come on to MDC and post.
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I had several full cannisters of Enfamil when DS was born, but it wasn't "just in case" formula, it was free samples which I later donated to a food bank. I never even considered giving them to DS, even when he wouldn't latch for two weeks and I was pumping every three hours and cup feeding him. To be honest, I'd totally forgotten they were there. The big argument for the gift bags is that if a mom is committed to BFing, formula samples won't make a difference. I agree. It certainly made no difference to me. However, if a mom has serious BFing problems, or just isn't that sure of herself to begin with, a couple of samples can make the difference between continuing and giving up. A mom who is teetering on the edge needs support, not formula.

For working moms who don't have backup stashes of BM (like me), a couple of formula samples can be useful in case something happens and she gets stuck at the office or caught in a traffic jam and misses a feeding. I only worked a mile away from the house, so I never bothered to have just-in-case formula, but had I had a commute to worry about, I probably would have. However, the vast majority of nursing moms don't need formula around to tempt them in the middle of the night.
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I am so glad my hospital had a bfing mom gift bag in addition to a ff mom gift bag. I received no formula from my hospital and am grateful.

I had received samples in the mail (I think because I bought one tank top at Motherhood), and I am so thankful that I gave them away to people already ffing, before ds was born.

We had no formula or bottles in the house, and I think it made a HUGE difference. I was totally committed to bfing. I went to LLL meetings in advance. I had no bottles, no pacis, no formula written on my birth plan. When they thought that ds might need some formula to bring up his blood sugars (slightly hypoglycemic after birth), I insisted that they come test him again after an hour. And, only then, if still necessary would I do it, and only with a SNS at the breast.

Yet, after my milk taking 6 days to come in, and ds losing quite a bit of weight. After developing such an extreme case of thrush that it took me 6 months to eradicate it, and had to take narcotic painkillers intermittently just to be able to bf. In addition to having the common bfing stumbles in the early days. I am so GLAD there was no formula in my house!!!!

I think it would have been so easy to just give up. Of course, I am so glad I didn't. I think that if someone who is totally committed to bfing can be brought to such a point, that it is unwise for anyone to have formula and bottle on hand 'just in case.' I think that sets you up for failure.
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The policy at the women's hospital here is no formula in the gift bags. You still get the gift checks, but that's tons better than just in case formula.
In the province where DD was born, they don't give gift bags nor do they give free formula. The province we live now also does not give out gift bags for formula. Not sure if this is the same all over Canada. After DD was born I never received any free formula samples from anywhere, nor was I offered any. I did receive alot of free, crappy magazines though.
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