About Suzanne Barston

Suzanne Barston is a blogger and author of BOTTLED UP. Fearless Formula Feeder is a blog – and community – dedicated to infant feeding choice, and committed to providing non-judgmental support for all new parents. It exists to protect women from misleading or misrepresented “facts”; essentialist ideals about what mothers should think, feel, or do; government and health authorities who form policy statements based on ambivalent research; and the insidious beast known as Internetus Trolliamus, Mommy Blog Varietal.

FFF Friday: “It’s always the mother’s fault, isn’t it?”

One of my most vivid memories from FC’s first months is of standing in front of our refrigerator, staring at the bottles of hard-earned, dairy/soy/wheat/green leafy veggie-free breastmilk. After 24 hours on hypoallergenic formula, I knew it was about as healthy as toilet bowl cleaner for my son. Still… the voices in my head, the ones that had yelled at me every time I thought about quitting (come to think of it, those voices weren’t just in my head; they were also at the doctor’s office, in my circle of friends, and in my house, coming from my brainwashed husband), protected those tiny vials of liquid (fool’s) gold. 

So yes, Nicole- I hear you. I hear you, and I am sorry. 

Happy Friday, fearless ones,



Nicole’s Story

I have over 400 ounces of breastmilk in my basement freezer.  My daughter is nearly 7 months old and she will never be able to drink any of it.  Much of it is dairy and soy free, and she will still likely become ill if I feed it to her.  I cannot bear to get rid of it, or donate it to some mother who believes that formula will hurt her child when it is the thing my daughter has lived on for the last 4 months.  I also cannot bear to throw it away because I wanted nothing more than to breastfeed my children.  And I cannot move on from feeling like I am less than other mothers because I failed, twice.

After 6 weeks of unbearable, head splitting pain, I stopped breastfeeding my son.  We struggled through latch issues, jaundice, over supply and a frenectomy.  I could only nurse my son flat on my back for that 6 weeks, and even then, it took him nearly an hour to nurse, every two hours.  He lost 12% of his body weight and required us to finger feed him with a tube every two hours until his weight gain improved.  Even once he started gaining, he was never able to nurse without constant unlatching and relatching.  I saw a lactation consultant too many times to count and spent far more money on those services than I would have on a year’s worth of formula.  My insurance did not pay for any of it.  I had such an abundance of milk supply that I would never be able to nurse my son outside of our home. I struggled with constant plugged ducts.  I nursed him flat on my back with burp cloths tucked into my bra, and still I was drenched.  After 6 weeks of pain and countless tears, I stopped.  I formula fed my son until he was a year old.  I struggled with endless guilt.  I struggled with a comment made in my house to my sister-in-law, by her sister-in-law, “You’re going to breastfeed your kids, right?”  It was said while I was out of the room, but it epitomized the judgment cast upon me for not breastfeeding.  I was “less than” because I did not continue, I did not try hard enough.

Two years later I was blessed with my daughter.  I wanted to breastfeed her.  I did not want her to be the “redemption baby” but I prepared nonetheless.  I took a breastfeeding class and met with the lactation consultant before she was born.  I prayed for it to work.  I said I was going to know my limits this time.  My daughter was born remarkably quickly, after just 10 minutes of pushing.  She was born screaming.  It was a beautiful, wonderful scream, except it didn’t stop.  She screamed for most of her waking hours for months on end.  She nursed non-stop from the moment she was born, for hours on end.  She would not settle unless the nurses took her out of the room.  As soon as she came back, she wanted to nurse again.  Unlike my son, who slept through his first weeks of life, she did not sleep AT ALL!  After labor and delivery, and then being up all night nursing, I cried.  I cried because I was sure it was already falling apart.  I cried because the nurses questioned me about whether I had smoked, used some medications or drugs while pregnant that would cause my daughter to be so restless.  It’s always the mother’s fault, isn’t it?  Except it wasn’t my fault.  I did none of those things.


Despite the pain and discomfort, I continued.  I saw the lactation consultant again.  We got past the blisters and I healed enough to continue.  I was assured that she wasn’t tongue tied like my son.  But she screamed and cried and never latched well. After 6 weeks, the lactation consultant diagnosed her with a tongue tie and reflux.  She went on medication and we braved rush hour NYC traffic to have her tongue and lip tie corrected.   She still screamed and would only sleep if I held her.   She broke out in a rash all over her face.  Eventually, I cut out dairy, then all things soy.  Because I had to hold my daughter 24/7, I could not cook and could rarely grocery shop.  I started losing weight so quickly, I had to try to consume high calorie foods to keep weight on.  I was losing about a pound a day.  Meanwhile, my daughter was not improving.  In fact, she was screaming more and nursing less.  She nursed for just 3 minutes at a time.  She would go hours without eating, just screaming and crying.  I brought her to the pediatrician and the lactation consultant, who both felt she was just an “efficient nurser”.  But I knew something was wrong, so I waited for the scale to show what I knew was happening – she was not eating enough.  And soon, the scale showed that her weight gain was less than it should be.  She developed an intense aversion to eating and was referred to a pediatric gastroenterologist.  He identified mucous and traces of blood in her stool.  The lactation consultants encouraged me to continue.  At one point, I was encouraged to bed share because I was “missing feeding cues” that might be contributing to her weight gain issues.   I knew I was not missing feeding cues and that my daughter simply didn’t want to eat because she was in constant discomfort, and likely, pain.  Yet, I cried because I allowed this woman to blame me for my daughter’s feeding issues. At this point, I was no longer eating dairy, soy, nuts, or peanuts.  I weighed less than I did before I got pregnant at about 9 weeks postpartum, despite gaining nearly 30 pounds during my pregnancy.  When people complimented my weight loss, all I could think of was the constant distress we were experiencing.  I wasn’t trying to lose weight, I was trying to get my daughter to gain weight.

I was feeding my daughter every 3 hours in her sleep overnight because she would nurse in her sleep, but would refuse when awake.  The lactation consultants told me formula would make her reflux worse and that maybe I should give up eggs or wheat too.  Meanwhile, the pediatric GI told me to stop nursing and put her on hypoallergenic formula because we might never figure out what food proteins she was reacting to.  Initially, my daughter refused to drink Elecare.  She was refusing to eat much at all at that point and the foul tasting formula was not appealing.  I cried endlessly and worried she would be on a feeding tube if she did not start improving.  I truly did not know how we would survive another day of screaming and not sleeping.  We were finally able to get her to drink Alimentum mixed with breastmilk if we fed her in the bouncy seat and distracted her with toys.  Slowly, we weaned her to all Alimentum.  Then, even more slowly, she began to eat.  At 12 weeks, my mom convinced me to leave her home with her and go out with my son and husband.  When I came home, she told me that my daughter had cried for a bottle.  My daughter had not cried out of hunger for weeks.  I was so relieved.

I know that I had to stop nursing my daughter for her health.  I know that I did what was best for both of my children and that they are healthy and happy.  Finally, at 4 months, my daughter stopped crying.  She still has some issues with feeding but she is such a happy girl.  I don’t think she is in pain anymore.  And yet, I still hear the voice of that woman in my head, “You’re going to nurse your children, right?”  And I still feel “less than” other mothers.  I allow the judgment of others to force me to question my decisions.  I still have over 400 ounces of breastmilk in my freezer and it haunts me everyday.

I am writing this because I hope to have closure one day.  I want to be able to shrug off the judgment of others as I am so much more easily able to do in other areas of my life.  I want other mothers to stop believing they know it all and to accept that most of us are just doing the best we can.  I want to forgive myself and let go of the pain, the guilt, the jealousy of other mothers who succeeded where I failed.  I want the breastmilk in my freezer to disappear along with the pain I have been carrying for so long.

I don’t think any woman should feel bad for not going to the lengths I went to.  I hope nobody reads my story and things, “I didn’t try that hard so i didn’t try hard enough.”  I feel the need to justify my actions and I won’t let myself “off the hook” for not going to greater and greater lengths to succeed.  I know this is incredibly irrational and unhealthy; I would not want anybody to read this account and feel bad.  As mothers need to know when to make a change for the greater good and stop feeling the need to live as martyrs to prove ourselves to one another.


Feel like sharing your story? Email it to me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. Please note, it can take up to a year for stories to appear on the blog!

The FFF Database of Feeding Choice-Friendly Hospitals (and Choice-Unfriendly Hospitals)

The following is an international list of hospitals that have been recommended by parents who used formula, organized by country and state.

 I originally called this list “formula friendly”, but they are really just “choice friendly”. These hospitals get good reviews because they respect maternal autonomy and choice, and offer support no matter how a family decides to feed.

Please note that hospital policies change periodically, and these reviews may no longer be relevant. I always suggest asking about their infant feeding policies on the hospital tour, and making sure you write your desires for feeding in your birth plan. For more advice on handling breastfeeding/baby-friendly initiatives, please click here.


“Baby-Friendly” or BFHI = hospitals that have received accreditation from Baby Friendly USA, a breastfeeding initiative. BFHI hospitals are required to promote and protect breastfeeding by following “10 Steps to Successful Breastfeeding“. 

RTF = Ready to Feed formula. In this context, this usually means the hospital provides sterile, ready-to-feed “nursettes” which are the considered to be the safest, easiest way to formula feed a newborn. 

BF or EBF = Breastfeeding or Exclusively Breastfeeding

EFF = exclusively formula feeding

Formula-Friendly Hospitals, by State and Country

These hospitals received positive reviews from formula-using parents



Grandview Medical, Birmingham, AL – “The LC even offered to go get me formula when she could tell how upsetting and stressful breastfeeding was for me. They always ask my choice before I have the baby and have never made a negative comment about formula.”

Brookwood Medical Center, Birmingham, AL – “They had excellent lactation specialists who were happy to help, but I caught zero judgement for supplementing with formula and they sent me home with tons of samples.”



Banner Thunderbird Hospital. Glendale, AZ

Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, Gilbert, Arizona-  ”Tells you on the tour that they are a breastfeeding hospital, but I went in and had my son and said we wanted formula right from the start, no questions, no guilt. I think the nurses are on the “as long as you’re feeding the baby” bandwagon.”

Abrazo Health Scottsdale Campus, Phoenix, Arizona. “Helped me breastfeed and willingly gave me formula when I asked for it; had no issues.”

Banner Estrella Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ. – “They asked during delivery if I wanted to breast or bottle feed. I answered, they wrote it on the board, and that was it. I loved that they didn’t pressure me in any way, and they kept my room stocked and answered all of my questions. No guilt at all. Totally supportive and I’m so appreciative for that.”

Del E Webb Medical Center, Sun City, AZ. — “They didn’t give me any trouble about formula feeding and even gave me a ton to take home… they were super sweet and supportive about it.”



Sparks Regional Medical Center, Fort Smith, AR – “When I said formula they gave me a case of 12 RFT bottles, and put it in the bassinet drawer. They gave me more cases on demand when I ran out. They gave me feeding tips. They had no problem taking my daughter to the nursery at night so I could sleep. When I was being discharged, they asked me if I had some formula at home, and gave me a couple cases to take home with me (along with three large packages of diapers, six pacifiers, and a digital thermometer.)”

Willow Creek Women’s Hospital, Johnson, AR – “Once I stated my preference, they were great. Kept us stocked with the ready to feed nursettes.”


Scrips Memorial Hospital, Encinitas CA – “Was a “baby friendly” hospital meaning they were very pro-breastfeeding to the point they did not accept free formula from formula companies. I had to ask for every single bottle I fed my baby and didn’t get any extra formula sent home with me because they kept their formula held tightly but they were very respectful of my decision to formula feed from the start without insisting I give them any sort of explanation and there was no pressure to feed my baby another way and I never felt judged by any of the nurses or drs.”

Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, La Jolla, California (San Diego County) – “All three of my children were born here and all three had to be supplemented with formula pretty soon after their births. The nurses and lactation specialists were incredibly supportive and also sent me home with plenty of formula. About 24 hours after the birth of the my third child, I told them I needed an SNS (Supplemental Nursing System) and formula and I had both within 10 minutes. Then I did my thing, taped the tube to my nipple and fed my baby. The nurses just laughed and said “Looks like this isn’t your first rodeo!” I felt incredibly supported and cared for. I stopped pumping at 10 weeks and never looked back.”

Los Alamitos Medical Center, Los Alamitos, CA – “Asked how we were planning to feed, asked if we had a brand preference, gave some tips/instructions on timing and amount, checked in to see how it was going … no issues, no pressure whatsoever.”

 St Joseph’s Hospital in Orange CA

Kaiser Permanente Santa Rosa Medical Center, Santa Rosa, California –  ”With my son I hadn’t specified what I wanted to do so they were pretty pushy with the breastfeeding but after telling them I was formula feeding my daughter, no ifs ands or butts, I didn’t hear anything else. They even sent in a lactation consultant to advise me on proper bottle feeding.”

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Santa Rosa CA –  ”Very respectful. I went in with a ‘we shall see what happens’ attitude and they didn’t give me any grief for supplementing early on. The asked if I wanted to see a LC and when I said no they didn’t push the issue.”



Avista Adventist Hospital, Louisville, CO – “Fantastic nurses and doctors, everyone was completely supportive of my choice to formula feed from the start with my second baby.”



Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT –  ”No questions at all about why I was exclusively formula feeding.”

St Mary’s Hospital, Waterbury, CT – “They still had to do the BFHI survey but if you were forthright about FF from the get go, zero pressure.”


Nanticoke Hospital, Seaford, DE. “They didn’t shove anything down our throats, offered whatever we needed. Did they encourage breastfeeding? Yeah. But did they also give her formula when she needed it? Yes.”



Mease Countryside Hospital, Safety Harbor, FL  ”It’s actually a baby friendly hospital (BFHI), but I formula fed both my sons and never got any pushback or comments from the nurses. Once I told them I was formula feeding, the LC didn’t even visit my room.”

General Hospital, Tampa, FL

University Community Hospital, Tampa, FL



St. Mary’s Hospital, Athens, Georgia –  ”Provided balanced infant feeding support both in breastfeeding initiation and postpartum infant feeding support. Formula was offered when it was clear we were having feeding difficulties. While there was a heavy emphasis on trying to help moms ‘make it work’ in the breastfeeding department, formula was not verboten. I very much appreciated that from their LC.”

Trinity Hospital. Augusta, GA.

Winn Army Hospital, Fort Stewart, Georgia – “They are Baby Friendly (BFHI), but when my oldest was hungry and my milk hadnt come in, they had formula on hand, pacifiers as well, and recommended a little formula to help with her jaundice as well. It is an Army hospital, but for any military wives that might end up delivering there, I was very happy.”

Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Johns Creek, GA – “Formula fed by choice from the start, no problems, in both 2012 and 2015. They also have a level 3 NICU.”

Southern Regional Hospital Women’s Center, Riverdale, GA.



Tripler Army Medical Center (TAMC), Honolulu, HI

Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children, Honolulu, HI


Kootenai Health, Coeur’d Alene, Idaho – “They never acted differently with me weather it was breast feeding or formula feeding and they even kindly suggested formula while my son was in the NICU so we could get some sleep rather than drive to the hospital every two hours at night.”



Prentice Women’s Hospital (Northwestern), Chicago, IL. While I can’t speak for everyone’s experience, mine was stress free and no one batted an eye with my choice to exclusively formula feed. Excellent nursing staff.” (FFF Note: I have heard mixed reviews of this hospital – they are staunchly BFHI, and some say the nurses were extremely pushy. Most likely depends on who is on shift!)

Advocate Good Samaritan, Downers Grove IL – “I wanted formula from day 1, my room was always stocked up, baby NEVER starved. They actually would not release us until he regained his birth weight! Amazing hospital and staff! I had two babies there and formula was readily and easily available 24/7! You could have the baby in the nursery all night or in your room. Amazing hospital!”

Evanston Hospital, Evanston, IL – “One OB resident gave me a hard time before the baby was born about my choice to formula feed. After she was born, the nurses could not have been more supportive.”

Little Company of Mary Hospital, Evergreen Park, IL – “Although I had planned to BF, when the nurses and my pedi saw me struggling, they suggested supplementing and provided RTF formula, cups (because I was only supplementing at the time they suggested to avoid nipple confusion), etc. When I decided during my extended stay to exclusively formula feed, they grabbed the nipples and restocked frequently. I was sent home with lots of formula as well. It is a Baby Friendly hospital but I couldn’t have been more pleased. No pressure either way. The nurse kept telling me to feed my baby the best way for us and not to listen to what anyone else said.”

Delnor Hospital (Northwestern), Geneva IL –  ”They provided all of the ready to feed formula as soon as he was born. He stayed in the NICU there and the Lury Children’s neonatologist that treated him didn’t say anything. They supplied almost a week worth when we went home.”

Advocate South Suburban Hospital, Hazel Crest, IL – “I started off trying to breastfeed exclusively, but before I was discharged hubby and I asked about supplementing with formula. The nurse handling my discharge told me that supplementing could work out (absolutely no discouragement) and how to proceed to do so. The nurse gave us a pack of nursettes without any issues. There was also a formula sample pack at the bottom of the hospital bassinet that we were able to take with us.”

Anderson Hospital, Maryville IL – “They were open to my feelings and very supportive when I wanted to start supplementing.”

Memorial Medical Center, Springfield, IL – “Exclusively formula fed both my now 2 year old and newborn son and no one batted an eye. Love this hospital for multiple reasons!”

Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, IL

Central DuPage Hospital (Northwestern), Winfield, IL – “Amazing hospital, supportive staff. LOVE.”



St Vincent Carmel Hospital, Carmel, IN – “When we took out tour we got to sit down and do our birth plan. They asked about breastfeeding and if I would need a LC. I said I wasn’t planning on breastfeeding because I wasn’t comfortable. They said not a problem and marked that I didn’t need a LC to visit and what brand of formula I wanted. During my actual birth after my daughter arrived one nurse did ask if I wanted to try and breastfeed; I said I was planning to formula feed. She said not a problem and said she was sorry for not looking at my chart and got me the formula brand I wanted to try. Overall it was a great experience the whole time the nurses were great at making sure we had plenty of formula and never once pressured me into trying to breastfeed.”

Dupont Hospital, Fort Wayne, IN –  ”When we decided to formula feed, no one tried to convince us otherwise. Provided everything we needed and helped when I had questions.”

Lutheran Hospital, Fort Wayne, IN –  ”I planned from the very beginning to do a combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding. They asked if I wanted to speak to a lactation consultant, instead of just assuming I would want to. When it came time to request formula, I was able to talk with a pediatrician about which type might be best. Great experience!”

Parkview Hospital, Huntington, IN. “They asked me if I planned on formula or breast feeding. When I told them formula, they didn’t question or even try to talk me into it. They just brought us some Enfamil Newborn nursettes. I actually had a nurse ask if she could feed her in the nursery while I ate.”

IU Health/Methodist Hospital, Indianapolis, IN – “From the moment I checked in, they asked in a very non-judgmental way whether I would be breast or bottle feeding. After that, I was given bottles, formula and pacifiers without issue. I never felt bullied by anyone.”

IU Health Arnett Hospital, Lafayette, IN



Iowa Methodist Medical Center, Des Moines, IA

Mercy Hospital, Dubuque, IA –  ”Amazing staff, were very supportive of my decision to formula feed and provided answers and help with breastfeeding and pumping without being pushy.”


Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Merriam, KS (Kansas City area) – “I had two very dangerous, complicated births and both my babies and I were cared for by top-notch professionals. During my pre-labor paperwork appointments, I stated formula was my choice and specified my brand and both times, it was loaded up on our bassinet carts and ready immediately when the babies were born. Nobody said a single word and the nurses were nothing but loving, helpful, and supportive. My births were 21 months apart and I received the same standard of care.”



Owensboro Medical Health System (OMHS), Owensboro KY



Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Lafayette, Louisiana – “Asked which option we wanted. Lactation consultants were wonderful, supportive and helpful when we tried breastfeeding, and even gave tips when we had to switch to formula.”

Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, Lake Charles, Louisiana –  ”While they do have very good resources and lactation consultants for those who wish to breast feed, never once was I harassed or made to feel bad about my decision to formula feed. They even respected my wishes to not have a lactation consultant come by my room. It was a very good experience and I left feeling confident and well taken care of, as well as my son getting the nutrients he needed that I couldn’t provide, without being made to feel less than.”



Inland Hospital Birthing Center, Waterville, Maine – ” I had wanted to breast feed but my son was born with low blood sugar so they had to supplement immediately after birth. They used a syringe and small tube to give him the formula so that it wouldn’t upset breastfeeding. The LC came into see me once while I was there and was very helpful and supportive. The nursing staff was wonderful. They were very encouraging. They were more than willing to help me to get my son to latch etc. When he just wasn’t taking the breast or I seemed too exhausted they offered formula. They were never condescending or condemning about it. When I went home I still was supplementing a lot because breastfeeding just wasn’t working out. I made an appointment with the LC. She was very supportive of us supplementing. She showed me how to pump to help build up supply. She also suggested using a bit of formula to satisfy the baby so getting him to latch would be easier. She stayed in contact with me and when I told her that I had pumping around the clock and getting 1/2 an ounce a day she said “You can stop if you want to.” She then went over safe preparation of formula with me. This birthing center is truly all about healthy babies and moms. I am looking forward to having my baby there next summer.”



Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis, MD – “No pressure, no guilt. FF from the beginning with my 2nd & 3rd babies there. I felt totally comfortable and was supplied with everything needed. Great experience both times (my third child was born last month).”

Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD – “I supplemented both of my babies starting shortly after birth, no problems!”

Mercy Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland –  ”I can’t breastfeed (IGT)… When I explained to the very nice LC that visited, she was so supportive and went and brought extra formula for me to keep in the room so I wouldn’t have to worry about asking the nurses when I ran low. She even propped some pillows for me to be comfy in a bottle feeding friendly way! Not one nurse said anything or acted negatively when I said I wouldn’t be breastfeeding (even though it’s a very BF friendly hospital).”

St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore MD – “Absolutely no pressure or questions about my decision to formula feed from the beginning.”

Howard County General - Columbia, MD – “Every nurse and doctor asked/assumed I would breast but when I said no I didn’t get any push back/harassment.
My son’s bassinet shelves were stocked with RTF formula and nipple and I was given a feeding schedule ,and a booklet to track his input and out put. The LC came around each day and (slightly annoyingly) asked each time if I was BFing. Each time I said no and never got a lecture or anything. Each no was followed with asking if I had any questions about drying up my milk. Every one was very nice.”

Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC), Towson, MD




Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA – “Had a great experience there in 2014. I made my wishes clear in advance (exclusive formula feeding from the start, no visits from LC, and baby would spend nights at nursery while I got Benadryl and slept) and everyone honored them.”

Newton Wellesley Hospital, Newton MA – “With baby #2 there was no pressure, no forms to sign, no questions. Lots of support and assistance. And with my first pregnancy when I wanted desperately to breastfeed and baby was in special care nursery extensive support with all my questions and concerns (plus plenty of formula for supplementing).”

Norwood Hospital, Norwood Massachusetts – “Formula fed from the get go with both kids. While they are baby friendly (skin to skin right after birth, room in with mom not nursery) I was never once questioned why or pushed towards breast feeding.”

Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, Massachusetts –  ”They support all feeding choices, no forms or harassment. They also have a nursery that all new moms are welcome to use as well as the option of rooming in if that’s what people prefer!”

Winchester Hospital, Winchester, MA – “Never felt any judgement about my choices!”



MidMichigan Health Center, Alma, MI  -  ”I had a wonderful experience there. No judgement when breastfeeding didn’t work for us.”

Beaumont Hospital, Dearborn, MI – “They ask how you are feeding and that’s the end of it. Even provided tons of ready made to take home.” Another reviewer: “ I had a phenomenal experience combo feeding with my second son at the hospital. No guilt, no pressure to exclusively breastfeed. It was my choice and they were supportive of that choice.”

University of Michigan Hospital, Ann Arbor, MI – “Said I was doing formula and no one bugged me.” (Note- another mom said:  ”I didn’t have such a good experience. There is no nursery for moms to recover from a tough birth and I was told that if I had help at home to vacuum, I surely could breastfeed. (She thought I was just overworked and not diagnosed with a major depressive disorder.) UM is working towards baby friendly.”)

Spectrum Health Butterworth, Grand Rapids, MI.

McLaren Greater Lansing, Lansing, Michigan – “They ask you how you plan to feed your baby and support you whatever your choice. They have a traditional nursery where my baby stayed the first couple of nights after my c section when it was difficult for me to get out of bed, and when my milk didn’t come in right away they gave me formula and bottles to feed my hungry baby while at the same time offering me a lactation consultant to help me keep my baby latching and keep me hooked to a pump every day to get every last bit of colostrum for him too and encourage my milk to come in. But feeding a hungry baby was priority number one no matter how it happened and that’s the way I think it should be!”



Maple Grove Hospital, Maple Grove, MN.

St Cloud Hospital, St Cloud, MN  - “Just asked me how I wanted to feed the baby. I said formula and that was it. They kept nursettes stocked in the room and brought more when necessary. No comments whatsoever. All the nurses,etc were so attentive to making sure I was ok, too. Great experience.” Another reviewer: ”My nurse was wonderful after my first i tried to bf and she over heard me bawling to my husband because it wasn’t working. I am so thankful to that nurse who took time to talk to me about formula. My second babe straight to ff…no issues.”




Merit Health River Oaks Hospital, Flowood, Mississippi



Centerpoint Medical Center, Independence, MO

Mercy Hospital, St. Louis MO – “The nurses and staff was amazing and they never judge me. A lactation consultant actually helped me and told me how to dry up my milk faster. She was awesome. I will never forget her or my experience.”



St. Vincent’s Hospital, Billings, MT – “Everybody was really kind and supportive about my decision to formula feed my baby.”

Community Medical Center, Missoula, MT – “They provided me with formula right away because i told them that I had no interest in even trying to breastfeed with #2. They gave me individual prepackaged bottles of formula, and the nurse walked us through how much formula to provide at each feeding and how often to feed it to her. My daughter didn’t love the formula they had, and I ended up breastfeeding her the one night we were there anyway, but the nurse packed the rest of the formula they had provided for us to take home, just in case.”



St Elizabeth Hospital, Lincoln, Nebraska – “I discussed with my midwife how I wasn’t going to breastfeed. I wrote in my birth plan that I was going to formula feed. Not one time did a doctor or nurse try to get me to change my mind. They never sent lactation in to talk to me to try to get me to change mind. It was awesome and made me feel supported in my choice to formula feed.”



Littleton Regional Hospital in Littleton, NH – “Formula feeding my second child was so easy right from the start.”



North Shore LIJ (multiple locations across NY and NJ)  - “Very formula friendly – I was having some trouble getting the hang of bottle feeding my son – a really helpful nurse came in and helped me through it – not one person batted an eye about me not breastfeeding.”

Clara Maas Medical Center, Belleville, NJ – “They were perfectly open to combination feeding or exclusive formula feeding, but I needed and wanted to be told HOW to supplement my baby and how much he actually needed, and was pretty much on my own. If you’ve got your own feeding plan and stay on top of it, it should be OK, though.”

Englewood Hospital, Englewood, NJ

Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, NJ

Christ Hospital, Jersey City, New Jersey –  ”I asked through sobs for formula and the nurse said “oh sweetie I thought you’d never ask. It’s going to be okay,” then all the nurses gave me about 2 week’s worth of samples when I left. It was such a relief.”

Virtua Memorial, Mount Holly NJ – “When I was exhausted from breastfeeding they were so helpful and gave my baby formula when I asked them to so I could have a break.”

Capital Health, Pennington, New Jersey. “I did end up nursing, but they brought me formula for my little guy when I couldn’t get him to latch when he came out of the NICU. Actually, I think the nurse suggested it. It took a lot of pressure away. They sent me home with all kinds of goodies for both types of feeding.”

Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank, New Jersey – “Lactation consultant was a horrid wench who gave me a superior attitude despite admitting immediately that she had never even HEARD of my medication, but the nurses were very supportive. The second time around, they ensured an LC didn’t come near me.”

Valley Hospital, Ridgewood, NJ – “Good, but I made it excessively clear I wasn’t going to breastfeed”.




Glens Falls Hospital, Glens Falls, NY

Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, NY – “Specifically the NICU. Amazing experience with neonatologists who encouraged formula for my IUGR preemie, told me I could pump and they would give her breastmilk if I wanted, but to know that the calories in formula were necessary. They were also really gentle and kind about telling me this and thrilled when I said I love formula, think it is great and my goal is to feed my baby and formula is a great way to do that. My nurses and my baby’s nurses were equally as supportive of all of my choices. LC was annoying but not offensive.” Another review: ”No questioning of my choice. All matter of fact. The lack of pressure or questioning was support enough for me!”)

South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside, NY.

St Joseph’s Hospital Health Center (NICU), Syracuse, New York. – “Great experience! They let me take a hospital grade pump home when I was trying to boost my supply AND they also gave me a thorough and much-needed education on formula feeding (which water to use, how to properly mix, how to store, how to sterilize bottles … NOT what brand to use, contrary to popular opinion). I never felt pushed or judged.”

Samaritan Medical Center, Watertown, New York – “My daughter was born 5 weeks early and spent a week in the NICU. Once she was born, they asked if I’d be formula feeding or breast feeding, and I replied formula:) that was the end of it! They even noticed the formula she was on was affecting her, and switched her to a soy formula, which literally made the world of a difference. She had blood work done and had a milk sensitivity. They were nice enough to even send me home with the formula my daughter was currently on:) never pressured me to breast feed!”



Mountain View Hospital, Las Vegas, Nevada – “When I had my twins they were making it rain RTF Enfamil. It was awesome. Always gave us more if we asked, and let me get it myself from their storage once I was walking around.”



Duke University Hospital, Durham, NC – “Good all around. I combo-fed, and the nurses were very helpful. Like Danielle Suarez said above, their main concern was that your baby was fed. The LC who visited me was also really sane about formula. Also the LC only came because I asked her to, not because she was haunting the L&D wing rattling a Medela.”



Dublin Methodist, Columbus, OH – “With my first I hadn’t even considered that my milk would never come in. From the second day when it was decided I should be pumping and supplementing I had all the formula I needed. The nurse also provided me with proper formula feeding instructions. With my second I chose to formula feed from day 2. They brought me formula and never batted an eye. I had a great experience both times.”

Grant Medical Center, Columbus, OH – “They simply asked how we were feeding and that was that. We had unlimited formula while there and everyone was very supportive.”

Ohio State Univ Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH - They asked when I was admitted and were respectful and helpful. I had support in FF when I needed it and BF support when I needed that (two different births). My discharge booklet had info on both. They provide formula, as well, no questions asked.

Mercy Fairfield, Fairfield, OH – “When I checked in they asked how I planned on feeding and I said bottle. I never heard another question about it from anyone. They provided ready to feed bottles with no fuss and asked if I would like to take some home.”

Highland District Hospital, Hillsboro, OH –  ”They were helpful but not pushy when we wanted to try and gave us formula without a fuss when it wasn’t working.”

Kettering Hospital, Kettering, OH.

Fairfield Medical Center, Lancaster, Ohio –  ”Asked me how I was feeding I said formula they said Ok and made sure I had enough. My nurse also explained about how long it was good for and some formula information.”

Marion General Hospital, Marion, OH – “They were completely fine with my choice of formula feeding, they asked me my choice at arrival and that was the end of it. At discharge my paper work had info on both.”

South View Hospital, Miamisburg, OH – “Asked once how I was feeding my baby the LC came by with a paper on proper formula use mixing, how long it is good for, storage, how much to feed.. Etc. Baby bassinet was fully stocked with formula.”



Integris Baptist Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK –  ”Baby friendly and gave educational info on breastfeeding, but also no judgement at all on our choice to FF (and the judgement was what I feared the most- I had an awesome nurse who picked up on my nerves and was very sweet and reassuring!)”

Children’s Hospital, Oklahoma City – “They encourage breastfeeding, but they didn’t question when I asked for formula to supplement.”

St Francis Hospital, Tulsa, OK – “Great experience in October 2013. No pressure, let them know up front I was EFF, no unnecessary LC visits, and when requested I got some RTF to take home!!”



Mid-Columbia Medical Center, The Dalles, Oregon – “They are pro-breastfeeding, but when my daughter had jaundice and wasn’t gaining weight, they helped me supplement until she was thriving. And they sent me home with so much formula!”



Holy Spirit Hospital, Camp Hill, PA – “They asked my preference, marked him as formula only, asked for a brand preference, and never batted an eye or made me feel bad.”

Saint Vincent Hospital, Erie, PA – “They asked me my feeding preference when I was registering and when I said formula, that was the end of it. Nobody pressured me to breastfeed or lectured me about it. They provided ample amounts of formula for my baby while we were there and they sent me home with a bunch of the nursette bottles. I appreciated the fact that they respected my decision to formula feed. It helped make that decision a little easier for me.”

Harrisburg Hospital (Pinnacle Health), Harrisburg, PA – “Baby friendly, but totally chill with my decision to EFF from the beginning.”

Women’s and Babies Hospital, Lancaster, PA

Good Samaritan Hospital, Lebanon, PA – “With my second baby, I said from the beginning I would be formula feeding due to issues breastfeeding my first. All the nurses were supportive and other than a casual remark that it might be easier the second time around if I wanted to try again, the doctors were too. The lactation consultant mistakenly came in once, thinking I was nursing. When I explained that I wasn’t, she never pressured me at all and even said, “Mothering is more than milk.” I loved that!”

Magee Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA –  ”I wasn’t planning to FF but one of my preemie Twins had glucose issues so they immediately recommended formula. Both my twins were on formula in the NICU (and there was also a breast pump available for me to use) and in the nursery, and when the boys were in my room they gave me formula for free. They showed us how to feed them, how to safely handle and store bottles, and told us how much they should be eating. Before they sent us home they made sure to get both boys on the same kind of formula to make feeding easier for us.”

West Penn Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA – “My son was born extremely premature at 25 weeks. While I chose to pump for him in the beginning, the stress of it all was too much for me. One of the nurses actually sat me down and told me that if I was miserable pumping, then I needed to stop. That formula would be just fine for my little guy. I took her advice, and she was right. The entire staff there made me feel so comfortable when I decided to transition my son to formula. I am so grateful for that.”

Heritage Valley Sewickley, Sewickley, PA – “Was asked breast or bottle, and then what brand I preferred.”

Lankenau Medical Center,  Wynnewood, PA – “They asked me if I was going to FF or BF. I said formula, they asked which kind I preferred, and nobody said another word about it. They just brought it to me.”


Hilton Head Hospital, Hilton Head Island, SC



Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, Knoxville Tennessee



Arlington Memorial, Arlington, TX -  ”Awesome –  they encouraged me to supplement when she was hungry were supportive for rooming in or sending to the nursery. I felt lactation was great and supportive for both formula and breastfeeding. One the nurses told me as long as the baby is fed and happy that’s all that matters! they sent me home with lots of formula samples too.”

Baptist St. Anthony (BSA), Amarillo Texas – “Because of my breast reduction breast feeding was difficult. They were more concerned about my babies nourishment. They provided formula right away with out asking and supported me as I breast fed and supplemented. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. They were so supportive when I was breast feeding and also helped me understand all the ins and outs of formula. They also gave me a bunch to take home!!”

St. David’s North, Austin, Texas –  ”I had supportive nurses when I tried to breastfeed, but they also INSISTED he receive formula since he was so early and his blood sugar was so low. I discussed formula feeding with nurses in L&D and they were immensely supportive. Our pediatrician there was also both firm and supportive about both mom and baby’s health no matter what form the food took… Which for us meant a 100% switch to formula very soon after birth. The entire staff at St. David’s North is EXTREMELY respectful, knowledgeable, and kind. They handled my incredibly complicated pregnancy and delivery, as well as our feeding stuff, with grace and compassion.”

Medical City Hospital, Dallas Texas

Memorial Hermann Hospital, Sugar Land, TX  - “We had adequate help from the lactation consultant but needed to supplement a few feedings with formula due to baby’s low glucose. They sent us home with both formula and lots of bf resources. I remember nurses asking if we were bf or ff and they seemed respectful of both options.”

Mother Frances, Tyler, TX – “They obviously support breast feeding but they do not judge you. They simply ask how you’ll be feeding, you say formula, they walk off and bring back a bottle. Simple. Had all 3 of my kiddos there. I love them!”

Clear Lake Regional, Webster, TX – “Noted both breast and formula on baby’s label. Had formula standing by when newborn refused to latch. LC gave options on how to combat nipple refusal and how to properly mix formula and BM together, if needed. No questions asked from the nurses and left with newborn nurser bottles.”


Orem Community Hospital - Orem Utah USA



Spotsylvania Regional, Fredericksburg, VA –  ”Was excellent about bringing formula stock and putting it under his bassinet.”

Sentara Norfolk General and Sentara Leigh Memorial, Norfolk, Virginia – “Never questioned formula use and the Special Care Nursery at Norfolk General actually encouraged formula use in December 2014 with my 2nd child who had a milk protein allergy.”

The Portsmouth Naval Hospital, Norfolk/Portsmouth VA – “Was wonderful with my second. When I asked for formula, it arrived, no one questioned my authority and combo feeding was encouraged as PART of their breastfeeding support system. Genuinely placed infant/maternal heath as a priority over theoretical “baby friendly” doctrine.”

Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center, Portsmouth, VA –  ”I formula fed from the start and never had anyone push breastfeeding, and they never offered a lactation consultant or had one come in anyway. They accepted it as my choice and moved on!”

Reston Hospital, Reston, VA –  ”Baby friendly, but did not ask questions or send in the lactation brigade when I said formula from the start with my second baby. They only asked one time how I was feeding. Only one nurse didn’t want to bring formula, but otherwise all were very helpful and supportive. With my first baby, same hospital, they provided breast feeding help, pump, bottles, LC, and information to take home. So I’d say they are friendly to either option.”

Roanoke Memorial Hospital, Roanoke, VA – “They asked how I planned to feed and I said bottle. They just asked if I had a particular reason but weren’t pushy about it…they were fine with the answer “personal reasons/choice” but did let me know they had a lactation consultant available if I wanted it. They provided plenty of formula and some to take home. They gave me a handout on what to do when my milk came in, mostly about putting cabbage in your bra haha. I have heard other stories though about women who attempted to BF and it wasn’t working out, and the LC got a little pushy/rude. Of course I never even saw the LC so I didn’t have that experience and can’t verify if it would be that way for everyone.”

Stafford Hospital Stafford, VA – “Offered lactation consultant services when requested, and formula when BF didn’t work out – no questions asked.”

Princess Anne Hospital, Virginia Beach, VA – “Never got a “boo” or a “hoo” about not attempting to breastfeed my son, and the nurses kindly kept him in the nursery overnight so I could get plenty of sleep before going home. It was heavenly.”

Sentara Northern Va Medical Center, Woodbridge, VA – “Had all 3 of my babies there- never ever felt pressured- their staff is phenomenal.”



Legacy Salmon Creek, Vancouver, WA –  ”Baby-friendly, but open to all forms of feeding as long as mommies are feeding.”



Raleigh General Hospital, Beckley, West Virginia



Aurora Medical Center, Oshkosh, WI – “Offered formula to help satiate babe while I got a good night’s rest. Nurse Kendra and LC Rachel listened to my anxieties and uncertainty about breastfeeding and suggested pumping and supplementing as an alternative that might work for us. No shaming, nothing but support and resources, and the LC even said, “Breastfeeding is not more important than sane parents.” ”

Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital, Weston WI. Sent us home with a bunch of formula for supplementing (my son was very jaundiced). Gave me no flack at all.



Memorial Hospital of Converse County, Douglas, WY



Angliss Hospital, Melbourne –  ”They had a bottle room ready with bottles sterilised and formula ready to go (or you could BYO formula if you didn’t like their brand). They strongly encouraged me to FF as my son had low BSL due to GD and ended up in special care. Never once saw a lactation consultant and was never told during my pregnancy to express pre labour to build up a stockpile (which is what they do to ensure you can BF post birth with a low BSL baby). I was in a GD forum during my pregnancy listening to women try desperately to express in their final weeks and was glad my hospital never put that pressure on me before or after birth.”

Nepean Public Hospital, Penrith, NSW

Westmead Public Hospital, NSW – “I attended a birth as a birth photographer for a mum who was having her 3rd baby. After Bub was born, the midwives asked if she wanted to breastfeed. Mum said no. There was no further discussion and a midwife came in with a bottle and helped dad give it to Bub while still in the birthing suite.”

Wollongong Hospital AustraliaWollongong, NSW –  ”I told them i was feeding my baby formula and they were amazing! They gave me different types to try and even gave me a booklet on how to clean and sterilize. No forms to sign. Brilliant. However they continually lost my paperwork and kept delaying my discharge… Formula consultation amazing-wouldn’t recommend it for anything else.”

Glengarry Private HospitalDuncraig, Western Australia –  ”Supported my choice to bottle feed my daughter completely and didn’t judge me at all.”





Surgeon Hospital, St. Albert, Alberta

Red Deer Hospital, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. “Very pro-breastfeeding, but had to supplement with formula and nobody asked twice, just kept bringing bottles.”

British Columbia

Surrey Memorial Hospital, Surrey, BC –  ”Were very supportive of making formula available and offering instructions on how to use it. They even gave me some RTF bottles to take home.”

Cariboo Memorial Hospital, Williams Lake, BC.

100 Mile District General Hospital, 100 Mile House, BC

Nova Scotia

The Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow Nova Scotia – “Actually provides you with formula while in their care and sends you home with samples.”


Royal Victoria Hospital, Barrie, Ontario – “I was struggling with breastfeeding and my daughter was losing too much weight. They offered me formula and were extremely helpful and supportive when I found myself very emotional about the situation.”

Joseph Brant Hospital, Burlington, Ontario – “Had no problem giving me formula. I had been trying to breastfeed and it wasn’t working so they offered formula with no judgment.”

General Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario.

Queensway Carleton Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario – “Not one negative experience. The lactation consultant was even asking around about easiest to digest brands and checked if lactose free formula was available for me.”

Civic Hospital, Ottawa, Ontario –  ”I had to supplement with my son. When I asked for formula my nurse ran and got it for me, no questions asked besides if I was ok. I was very impressed with how I was treated when I needed the formula.”

Oakville Trafalgar HospitalOakville, Ontario – “Asked how I planned on feeding my son and when I asked for formula they gave it to me. No questions asked!”

Montfort Hospital, East Ottawa, Ont.-  ”I went in saying I didn’t want to even try Breastfeeding and they did not give me any problems. They supplied me with formula.” Another review:  ”I went in saying I didn’t want to even try Breastfeeding and they did not give me any problems. They supplied me with formula.”

Victoria Hospital of the London Health Sciences, London, Ontario –  ”Designated Baby Friendly but did not give me any trouble with formula. I wrote on my intake form ‘no lactation consulting AT ALL; exclusive formula use’ and no one even questioned the choice. Hospital provided formula and nurses helped ‘some’. They sent me home with tons of breastfeeding info pamphlets and booklets, not a damn thing re: formula. The Health Unit was also only interested in BF support, not formula. So if you’re prepared to go it alone with zero advice on bottles, formula types, feeding frequency, stool consistency, reflux….. Victoria Hospital will let you.”

Peterborough Regional, Peterborough Ontario – “Staff were super helpful with formula. Didn’t make me feel guilty, provided me with formula and told me the stuff I needed to know regarding feeding.”

Hospital Montfort, Ottawa, Ontario –  ”Great with both my kids and my choice to not breastfeed. They provided a package with instructions and how to safely prepare,store etc and also provided the ready made formula for us during our whole stay (4 days for both, as they were sections) They asked when I got admitted, I told them I was going to FF, and that was that. Only had 1 nurse make a comment, and try to “change” my mind.”


Lasalle Hospital, Lasalle, Quebec –  ”I wanted a pump they gave me one, I wanted formula, they gave me that too, no questions/no arguing. Very happy with my experience there.” Another review: “”Very formula friendly. I combo fed and no questions were asked beyond which was my preferred brand.”

Pierre-LeGardeur Hospital, Terrebonne, Quebec – “They asked if I wanted to breastfeed, I said no and they brought me nursettes. That was it. No questions, no judgement.”



Auch Hospital, Auch, Southwest France – “My first three kids were born in the States and I faced tremendous pressure to breastfeed despite having zero success each time. The fourth time around was so much more pleasant! I really wanted to try to BF but his weight kept plummeting and he needed to heal a broken collarbone. Less than two weeks after he was born, after teas and oatmeal and Gatorade and cookies and then some – even a prescription! – my midwife put her hands on my shoulders and looked me right in the eye and said, “You tried. You really, really tried!” Her reassurance that my inability to breastfeed wasn’t because I hadn’t pushed hard enough or that I’d been too selfish allowed me to let go of (some of) the guilt that had been compounding since my first was born. For that I will be forever grateful!”



Haddasah Ein Karem, Jerusalem

Hadassah Mount Scopus, Jerusalem –  ”Sat down with the head nurse about making the decision not to breast feed, within a day or so after my c-section. She was supportive of my decision. Another nurse recommended that if my decision was final then to take a little pill to dry up the milk (which hadn’t yet come in) to avoid unnecessary discomfort.”




Ospedale Vittore Buzzi, Milan – “Although i don’t think you can find a real formula-friendly hospital in Italy, at least they are neutral, once you ask to switch to formula.
It’s up to the mother going to the nursery and ask for a bottle when the baby is hungry, but i am pretty sure nurses would bring it directly to the bed of patients that cannot walk.”



Miura OB-GYN and Birthing Center, Nishisonogi-gun, Nagasaki, Japan. – “Before giving birth I made clear my plans not to breastfeed, and every single nurse and Doctor there were respectful of my decision, did not try to guilt me into changing my mind, and promptly prepared me formula for the entire week I was there in recovery. Absolutely lovely experience.”



William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, England

Royal Derby Hospital, Derby, England – “They promote breast feeding, but after my daughter refused to breast feed for over a day, and myself being hand expressed like Betty the milking cow (I had a 4 day stay in hospital) I just wanted to feed my uy89tbaby so I asked for formula. The midwife gave me a relieved expression and said “thank god you’ve got some common sense, if only other women did” they were very supportive of my decision to make sure my baby was fed, no matter what. Obviously, with it being the NHS they provide the formula free of charge, I’m guessing all NHS ran hospital’s do.”

St Georges, Tooting, London – “Took charge when needed and suggested I fed my jaundiced, starving baby formula.”

Queen Charlottes Hammersmith, London UK

St Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK- “Have been great this far, even with choice to FF.”

Wrexham Maelor, North Wales, UK – “They provide 2 brands of formula & give out teats out to parents that need them & I was even given help with getting a very sleepy, disinterested baby to bottle feed. I was never made to feel bad for my choice & experienced no pressure to breastfeed whatsoever (apart from the posters advocating breastfeeding that covered almost every available space of course!)” Another review:  ”The breastfeeding support could have been better but they provide mums with formula free of charge for as long as they are in hospital, in a variety of brands, rather than expecting the dads to go out and buy it.”

Wishaw General Hospital, Scotland –  ”I had excellent support from their breastfeeding support team, but as soon as baby showed signs of dehydration he was topped up with formula. When it just wasn’t working for me and I was exhausted they asked me what I wanted to do. Without question or judgement they brought be a bottle. The next morning a few midwives came in to tell me their story and reassure me that I had made the right choice for me and my baby.”


Hospitals to Avoid

These hospitals received poor reviews from formula-using parents, either because their choices were not respected, or they were not given guidance or support.


Kaiser System Hospitals, All Locations, California (note: Kaiser was also mentioned positively by some FFF members – while they do have a stringent Baby-Friendly policy in place, many nurses were helpful once the decision to formula feed had been made.)

Barstow Community Hospital, Barstow, CA. “They’re very Baby Friendly, no pacifiers are on the floor, formula only if you get pushy about it, and we had to sign several forms that said we understood breast was best and formula was not as good. It wasn’t overall horrible, and I am stubborn enough to not let a nurse make me feel bad, but I can see where a Mom could be bullied.”

Northbay Medical Center, Fairfield, CA – “They are “baby-friendly” and after OB cleared me for discharge the nurse demanded she saw my son latch again before I could leave. She manhandled me and my son, I told her I just wanted my son to be fed, regardless of how and that I didn’t want another aggressive lactation consultant to come in and “counsel” me. She snuck out of the room and got one anyway and basically held us hostage there telling me that I wasn’t trying hard enough and needed to come see the lactation clinic days later. Meanwhile I’m in tears and traumatized and my 3 day old son was hoarse from all of the hunger screaming. I ended up refusing all lactation care and had to demand formula and was made to feel like I wasn’t trying to help my child. They were very quiet and condescending after that. A beautiful experience up to that point was soured by their hostility. And it ends up my milk never came in due to previous fertility issues. So it wouldn’t have mattered what they did, my body wasn’t going to cooperate.”

Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, San Francisco, CA “The delivery was amazing, but the post maternity care was awful. They really push breastfeeding and rooming in. After my delivery I was in a ton of pain and put on serious pain meds, which I appreciated, but no one mentioned that the pain meds might make it hard for my milk to come in. I also could not sleep with my daughter in the room so after 4 days of pretty much no sleep I was also falling asleep while feeding her. It was horrible and it so did not have to be that way.”

Los Robles Hospital, Thousand Oaks, CA –  ”After I made it clear I was not bf (and they kept pestering me as to why), I was put into a room far from the other patients and the nurses station, near the exit, like a pariah after my c section. Even my sister, who is a nurse, was concerned how isolated I was and how lax security around baby was. I had to chase down nurses to get adequate pain meds. It seemed like they didn’t want anything to do with me. In an effort to be a more ‘baby friendly’ hospital, they cut their nursery hours down to 11pm to 6am. I was on heavy narcotics and my husband had to leave earlier to take care of our other two kids. I barely made it to the 11 pm time and fell asleep feeding him. Even at 11, on one night the nurses didnt show up. I had to drag myself out of the hospital bed, in pain and doped up, attempting to roll him to the nursery myself. One nurse stopped me and loudly chastised me for trying to cut through the nurses’ station instead of helping me, even though I was not trying to cut through but simply ask where nursery was. On another occasion, a different nurse rolled my son back in from the nursery, barked “he needs fed” and left. My husband was not back yet and I had to roll myself out of bed in pain, set him in the hospital bed, and roll back in, hoping I did not roll on top of him. When I finally reached his chart, I saw the nursery nurse had noted feeding him 15 minutes prior, but there was no one to ask. The worst part was because the nurses continued to ignore me, they did not pay attention when I complained that the shortness of breath and nausea was not getting better. I ended up back in the hospital within the next week with post partum preeclampsia and put on an iv drip. I am only alive because my father, a retired ob, happened to recognize the signs and sent me to the er. This hospital is not fit to care for anyone, let alone bottle feeding mothers.”


Winnie Palmer Hospital, Orlando, Florida. “Great hospital but they are really annoying with lactation consultants and making you feel like you are making a bad choice.”



Northside Hospital, Atlanta, GA – “I got some pressure to breastfeed even though they provided formula. They forced me tho BF if i wanted my baby to eat the first hour. That was not my plan. I love my dr and most nurses, but i planned on pumping tyre first two days of colostrum and then using all hypoalergwnic formula. They didnt get me bottle feeding supplies and said they couldn’t get a pump in labor and delivery. They pushed me into breast feeding during their golden hour. Then some nurses continued to be pushy as well as the in house pediatrician. Only when i explained a lot of personal reasons and medical for not wanting tho breast feed did one nurse finally admit she had bottle fed her kids…thats after she made me feel bad two days. It was like all the staff had to make you try it whether they wanted to or not.”


Vera Zibler Birth Center, Kailua, HI


Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge MA – “When I asked about what formula might be considered “the best” to try, the LC said, “well swamp water is swamp water.” That kept me from going fully formula fed for way longer than was healthy for me.”

St Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Brighton, MA – “I asked for formula and it was no big deal. But nobody told me how to use it. There is no support for formula feeding moms.”



Jack D Weiler Hospital, Bronx, NY – “Horrible formula feeding experience. After giving birth I was asked multiple times an hour by every nurse, each day I was there, if I was breastfeeding and when I said no they asked why and kept telling me how much better it would be for my baby if I did, instead of just respecting my choice. They would not supply me with formula (which would have been great to know on the tour I took before I gave birth there) without me asking and when I did they only gave one bottle at a time and took a long time to bring it, while my baby was crying in hunger. This left me with a crying and hungry baby at 3:00am for over ten minutes until they could be bothered to give me a bottle of formula and then the process was repeated at 6:00 am. They did not talk to me about best quantities for a baby to drink, how often, how long the milk is good for, sterilization, how to get the baby to properly latch on to a bottle (to avoid sucking in air or creating a milky mess) how to spot allergies or anything important for a formula feeding mother to know. They didn’t give me any information on how to dry out my milk safely, how to relieve pain, and how to avoid complications. They left me to my own devices and were very rude about formula in general, yet had lactation consultants available for breastfeeding mothers and very enthusiastic about giving breastfeeding information. It was a horrible experience.”



St. John’s Hospital, Tulsa, OK – “Very pushy with breast feeding, sent in LC to “pep talk” when I requested formula to supplement. Then told that formula required Doctor request. Since baby was born over Labor Day weekend, I could not find a Pediatrician that would file the request. Baby lost 1 lb before we were released and able to get formula on our own. Not Formula Friendly at all!”



Texas Health Presbyterian, Dallas, TX. “They went “baby friendly” a couple years ago and wow. Not good.”



Aurora Medical Center, Kenosha, WI – “I had a nurse who hid the formula bottles I had out on my bedside table in a drawer under a bunch of receiving blankets.”

St. Mary’s Hospital, Madison, WI – “I wouldn’t say avoid this hospital at all costs, because their birthing floor is fantastic, but I had a negative experience at St. Mary’s in Madison, WI. They make it clear that you must put the baby to breast before you are released to the recovery floor. I wanted to breastfeed, but my baby was preterm, and I had several issues that ended up making it impossible to EBF. I had a lactation consultant click her tongue at me when my milk hadn’t come in by day 3. She manhandled my screaming baby and my breast while barking at me about how I was “doing it wrong.” When my daughter’s blood sugars were plummeting, donor milk was the only option presented to me. If you deliver here and plan to give formula or are open, be aware that you may have to be pushy and firm about your choice.”



Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney-  ”Is pro breastfeeding (as per state health mandate). There is no nursery – baby is kept with you at all times (I don’t know if this is now a state wide policy) If you ask for formula, you are encouraged to keep trying and they’ll get a lactation consultation happening. If you insist on formula you must sign a form every time is given (again state regulation – or so I was told) This form stops applying only when it is deemed medically necessary for formula to be administered.”



BC Women’s Hospital, Vancouver, BC, Canada –  ”They’re a “Baby Friendly” hospital. When my first was born, they had someone show up to show me how to breastfeed in surgical recovery, and… that was it. No help other than that. I tried paging them twice with the call button my first night there because I thought he was having trouble breathing, and they told me someone would come “later.” No one came until morning rounds. I ended up giving him some whacks on the back (having no idea how to do this with a newborn and recovering from surgery), and he spit up a large wad of mucus. He was crying and crying, and the second night, the only time a nurse came was to tell me to keep him quiet because other moms and babies were trying to sleep. I tried leaving AMA after the second night because I hadn’t slept and kept falling asleep while holding him. They said I could leave, but my baby couldn’t because he hadn’t been checked by a paediatrician. They brought the paediatrician in, and they weighed and checked him for the first time since he was born. He had lost more than 10% of his weight, so they showed me how to pump and said I was only allowed to take him if my partner ran down to the milk bank and got donor milk before they closed in 20 minutes because they didn’t want him to drink formula. I was told that I couldn’t use a bottle or it would ruin breastfeeding and to call the breastfeeding clinic the next day for an appointment. I did, and it was a two week wait. Overall, horrible experience. My doctor and the surgical team was fantastic, but they just dump you in a room after and make you feel like a failure. I still remember those two days as the worst of my life.”

Fraser Health Hospitals, British Columbia – They will give you formula, but will dispense it in plastic medicine cup since newborns only need 30 ML at a time.



Ichilov-Lis Maternity Hospital, Tel Aviv, Israel – “They seemed to be okay if you knew from the start you wanted to formula feed, but if you wanted to breastfeed, they were going to make sure you didn’t supplement, even if that meant bullying patients, letting the babies get dangerously dehydrated, and refusing to feed babies whose mothers weren’t feeling well enough to walk to the nursery.”



Croydon University Hospital (formerly known as The Mayday Hospital), Croydon, UK. “Their policy was not breastfeeding, (then) no food, drink or pain relief.”

Great Western Hospital, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK – “I planned a home birth and ended up there for c-section. Didn’t even know I could bottle feed, they were so pro breast. Found out I could have bottles about half an hour before I went home. Furious doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. The way I was dealt with still upsets me now (9 weeks on). I even told one of the midwifes I was planning to bottle feed when I got home, I’d used a carton of formula in my bag to feed her a little with a syringe, it was on the table In front of her and she still didn’t go and get me bottles!! I don’t know if I’m angrier at the hospital for not helping or me for not speaking up. Currently awaiting a reply to the complaint letter I sent their chief exec.”

















FFF Friday: “Sometimes, it takes more than loving an idea to make it work.”

One of the most frustrating misconceptions I see is that someone who chooses not to breastfeed must be anti-breastfeeding. That’s about as logical as someone implying that I’m not a professional actress because I’m anti-acting. Hell, I love acting. I spent most of my life studying it, and I was actually pretty good at it. But ultimately, the life of a professional actress wasn’t a good fit for me. I made a choice, and I feel very confident in that choice. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love it. It doesn’t mean I don’t love watching my old drama school friends succeed. Sure, sometimes I get a twinge, missing what it felt like to be on stage or on a set, but I know I made the right choice. 

Your “right” doesn’t need to be my “right” for us to mutually respect and support each other. My choice isn’t a condemnation of yours. And I love how Tif’s story illustrates this. It’s everything I believe in; everything #ISupportYou stands for.

Happy Friday, fearless ones,



Tiff’s Story

I love the idea of breastfeeding. The thought of my body providing the sole nourishment for my child, the closeness of the bond. The idea, I love. But sometimes, it takes more than loving an idea to make it work.

With my first child, I had full intentions of breastfeeding. I was young, still in college, and naively believed that nursing would come naturally, that our little girl would take to it immediately, and that we would have a long-term nursing relationship. At the hospital, I should have known something was wrong when she continuously pushed against the breast, refusing to feed, even as the nurses tried to show me correct positioning before eventually giving up and essentially leaving me to my own devices.

A week into breastfeeding, I gave up. I was sleep deprived (as all new mothers are), crying at each nursing session because my child would not stay awake long enough to get a significant amount of milk. We tried everything: stripping her down to her diaper, wiping her down with a cool washcloth, tickling the bottom of her feet. She would not nurse for more than a couple of minutes without drifting off. Nursing was also intensely painful because she would not open her mouth wide enough to get a good latch. This was not only frustrating, but worrying. When we returned to the hospital for her checkup, she had lost more weight, her jaundice had gotten worse, and the nurses hounded me about my breastfeeding habits, insinuating that I was doing it wrong, that I wasn’t trying hard enough.


So I gave up. The guilt ate at me for weeks, for months. Even as I began my senior year in college and knew that the busyness of classwork would have made nursing difficult at best anyway, I felt like a failure, like I didn’t try hard enough to give the best to my child. Eventually, though, the guilt faded to a dull ache and by the time she was walking and talking, had vanished completely.

When I found out I was pregnant with baby number two, breastfeeding was a priority. I would be prepared this time. I read every book I could get my hands on. I bought a nursing pillow, bras, and did not purchase bottles for fear that it would make me likely to give up. Little One’s little brother was born, placed immediately on my chest, and given an hour of skin-to-skin contact before he was taken to the nursery. During this time, I tried to nurse him, hoping that the searing pain I’d experienced with my first would not be present. But it was. And I hoped, as they took him to get checked out, that it was just due to the newness of the experience.

This time, the staff at the hospital was a bit more helpful with my breastfeeding attempts but the lactation consultant seemed hurried each time I saw her. She would come into the room and ask me if I was doing okay. I expressed my concerns to her, but since Little Guy was asleep each time she came, she said she would come back later when he was awake. She never did. I left the hospital with cracks and black bruises and once again, a baby that would fall asleep at the breast without consuming enough because he could not get his mouth wide enough.

By the third day at home, Little Guy had only produced two wet diapers in a 24-hour period. He was increasingly more yellow and lethargic. I cruised internet forums and groups, looked at pictures, and realized that it seemed he had an upper lip tie that prevented him from opening his jaw wide enough to get a good latch. That night, I broke down, drove to the grocery store and purchased a bottle and a can of formula. He took to it immediately, wide-eyed, and seemed satisfied for the first time since he’d been born.

I could have tried harder to nurse. I could have taken him to specialists and gotten his lip-tie clipped, and worried for days or weeks or months that he was getting enough while pushing through the stinging pain of feeding. But I didn’t. And as I gave him that first bottle, I did not feel the shame or guilt that I did with my first, whom I’ve since checked and realized also has a significant upper-lip tie. I did not feel like I had failed my son. Instead, I felt immense relief that he was getting nutrients and for the first time, saw him as my child, this tiny human I had brought into the world, rather than an obstacle to overcome.

I love when breastfeeding works out. I love when mothers nurse in public and always try to give an encouraging smile when I see one doing so. I love when children nurse to two and three and four years, unabashedly. I love the benefits that nursing provides mother and child. In theory, I loved breastfeeding. And then, I didn’t.

I am writing this, not because anyone has questioned my choice. My family has been beyond supportive, had told me that sometimes, what’s best for one is not best for all. And I am not writing this because I feel guilt or shame, because I don’t. And for that, I am so grateful. I am writing this for me. To remind myself that I tried. But it didn’t work out. That the decision I have made is okay. That it would have been okay if I had chosen not to nurse at all or nursed until my children started school. I am writing this because parenting cannot be condensed to one decision.

I am writing this as, miraculously, both children are napping, and I can take this moment to reflect on the past two years I have spent with my smart and funny and amazing daughter. And I am writing this so that I may look back weeks or months or years from now to remind myself that her little brother began his life just as she did: warmly welcomed by friends and family, by loving parents who have a desire to do what is best for him just as I believe we have done for his sister. And I am writing this, most of all, as a reminder of what is really important.

They are happy. They are healthy. We are content.


Feel like sharing your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com. It can take up to a year for stories to be published, so don’t panic if you don’t hear back for awhile!

Begging for Balance Before Banning the Bags

Last month, Maryland became the fourth state to eliminate the practice of handing out formula samples at hospitals. This was heralded as an important move in ensuring the health and welfare of the state’s newborns, as these sorts of initiatives always are. Reporters quoted breastfeeding advocates and nurses talking about how hospitals should be “marketing health”:

“This move allows Maryland hospitals to put their smallest patients’ health first,” said Dr. Dana Silver, pediatrician at Sinai Hospital and vice president of the (Maryland Breastfeeding Coalition), said in a statement.

From The Baltimore Sun

While the ban was officially a voluntary decision from the state’s 32 birthing hospitals and not a ruling from the state government, there were an awful lot of comments coming from state officials about the new policy:

“With changes like ‘banning the bags,’ we expect to see more mothers to try to exclusively feed their infants through breast feeding,” said Dr. Howard Haft, deputy secretary of public health services, in a statement. “This provides better overall health outcomes for Marylanders and brings us closer to achieving national goals in this area.”

The move was proposed three years ago by state health officials as part of a package of steps hospitals could voluntarily take to support breast feeding, which studies show may provide health benefits to the infants and mothers

- The Baltimore Sun

Supporters of the “Ban the Bags” movement claim that mothers who get the formula samples are less likely to exclusively breast feed and stop breast feeding before mothers who don’t get the formula.. They are absolutely correct. There are many studies showing this result, and I am in absolute agreement with them that the bags should NEVER be indiscriminately handed out upon hospital discharge.

Further, I agree that there’s no need for any marketing to be allowed in the maternity ward. As long as we all agree that this really means NO MARKETING. That includes free samples of Medela breast pads. I would also argue that posters ‘advertising’ the benefits of breastfeeding – often with slogans that are inherently shame and anxiety-producing – have no place in the maternity ward.

And lastly, there’s a valid argument that allowing formula companies to provide samples drives up the cost of commercial formula. But this is a bit of a straw man, because the marketing budgets of large pharmaceutical corporations are built in well-thought-out, specific ways; I suspect that Enfamil will find a way to use whatever money was going into the hospital discharge packs and spend it elsewhere. The cost of brand-name formula isn’t going down anytime soon, which is why it’s a wonderful thing that we have high-quality generic options on the market.

All of these arguments in favor of the Ban the Bags movement are valid. But there are other, equally valid arguments opposing it, that are being uniformly ignored by those in power:

What if mothers actually want the samples?

What if these samples allow parents to feed their babies the safer but far more expensive ready-to-feed nursettes, which reduce the risk of bacterial infections and exhausted, new-parent errors in preparing powdered formula?

What if the formula-sponsored discharge bags are the only real source of formula “education” parents are receiving?

Granted, these three questions all have other solutions than “give everyone formula samples”. For example,

- Formula samples could be on hand but only given upon parental request.

-These samples could be generic RTF newborn nursettes, pre-measured into small amounts that would prevent overfeeding (since everyone is so concerned about formula-using parents force-feeding their babies until their thimble-sized tummies expand, cursing them to a lifetime of morbid obesity)

-Samples could be outlawed, but all parents could instead receive a pre-discharge tutorial on safe formula feeding, what to look for in terms of insufficient breastfeeding and/or jaundice, and also a pamphlet or book with unbiased, easy to understand instructions for all safe feeding methods (breastfeeding, pumping, donor milk, formula feeding), as well as a local resource list for breastfeeding, formula feeding and postpartum mental health support.

Advocates for Ban the Bags can claim that these policies are put in place to protect babies, rather than to shame mothers or take away their options, but they need to understand that this is indeed the perception. I conducted a simple survey, composed primarily of the Fearless Formula Feeder audience, to explore what formula-using mothers thought of these initiatives. Of course, this is a biased group – most started out breastfeeding and switched to formula within the first 3 months, and some formula fed from the beginning (although I did open the survey up to anyone, and we did have 17% who exclusively breastfed, and 15% who breastfed and switched to formula between 3-12 months). But I’d posit that their bias is what makes their opinions so powerful. These are the moms who didn’t end up exclusively breastfeeding. If they felt that formula samples were at fault for this result, we would see that on the survey. Instead, this is what the survey found:


Hurt your breastfeeding efforts= 2.26%

Help you in some way = 22.56%

Neither= 32.83%

Some of the open-ended responses included:

“I was offered a bag but refused it.”

“It was an absolute blessing- i needed to supplement while my breast milk came in, and it meant that i didn’t have to run to the store while recovering from 2 c-sections.”

“It did not influence my decision to switch to formula after 4 weeks, but it was so helpful to have the formula sample to try and see if it helped before buying expensive formula at the store.”

“Gave it away or threw it out.”

“It helped tremendously. I could only produce enough breastmilk for one baby, but I had two. Formula is expensive (as are babies, and we had two!), so the formula that the hospital sent us home with was invaluable. We wouldn’t have bought the nursettes on our own (we’re too cheap), so the ones that the hospital gave us made the first few weeks of parenthood a little bit easier. We weren’t having to mix formula after not sleeping.”

“I had a stack of breast feeding information given to me, a breast feeding class to attend, and a formula bag with some info and a small can of formula. The bag was just a nice gesture to formula being a choice for me and my babies.”

“I wasn’t as stressed about breast feeding bc I knew I had some formula to use if needed.”

There were some responses suggesting that the formula samples were detrimental to breastfeeding success, supporting my assertion that these should be clearly called Formula Bags, and only given upon request:

“It made me feel like the only option was failure… Here are samples and coupons so you can hand your life over to the formula companies.”

“… I forgot about it and when I found it the formula was expired. It was wasteful.”

“I felt like thenurses had no confidence in my ability to breastfeed. When I was given the bag I felt like I was destined to fail and everyone knew it except for me. My sister helped me to overcome the initial obstacles and I was successful meeting my breastfeeding goals, but without her I’m not sure I would have continued past two weeks.”

For those respondents opposing Ban the Bags, the most common impression was that it shamed formula feeding parents:

Chart_Q5_15110467% of respondents felt that the initiative “shames parents who choose formula”; 60% didn’t like banning the bags because the samples came in handy; 31% said that the bags were “the only source of formula education I received.”

Open-ended responses included:

“Because it’s paternalistic and undermines a parent’s right to choose how to feed her baby”

“I don’t think it should be banned altogether, samples should be available to women who choose to formula feed or combo feed, but I don’t think formula companies should be targetting women who intend to breastfeed exclusively any more than Lansinoh or Medela should target women who intend to formula feed.”

“Because it should not be the government’s business to create a culture of shame around a product that many new parents need. I think it would be fair to educate new parents that supplementing may interfere with their milk supply if they express a desire to breastfeed exclusively. Beyond that, they should leave it up to the parents if they wish to receive them or not. If a company wishes to provide a sample, their client base should be allowed to receive it…the samples are helpful as parents make decisions around what is best to feed their child.”

“Because it implies a qualitative judgement on formula use. Parents have a right to choose their feeding method and the hospital does not have a right to attempt to manipulate that choice. With both of my children, I was offered only pampers brand diapers in the hospital. Why does pampers get the opportunity to push their brand name but not a formula company?”

“Because it is completely, 100% disingenuous and insulting to insinuate that a promotional bag has more power over me than my own well-reasoned decision-making processes.”

“It implies parents aren’t capable of making a choice. That we women are so weak willed that if we see a formula sample we’ll throw our breastfeeding goals away for a few samples. It laughs in the face of informed consent. If one is going to make a choice human milk or formula then they should be given ALL of the information. The only information parents are given at appointments and from the hospital is about breastfeeding. Yet if a formula company gives formula information it’s decided it’s only for marketing. Sure formula makes formula companies money but if the hospital offered unbias formula information about it instead of 10 risk of formula feeding lists we wouldn’t be seeking it from the formula companies.”

“Much like banning condoms & birth control doesn’t prevent sex, banning formula samples & literature doesn’t prevent parents from using formula. It’s dangerous – parents need ALL the info about infant feeding. “Ban the Bags” initiatives are tantamount to sticking your fingers in your ears, closing your eyes, and saying “na na na I can’t hear you it’s not happening.” Childish and completely ineffective.”

The most attractive solutions for most respondents were to hand out the sample bags only upon request (73%), or to give an unbiased book/pamphlet talking about all infant feeding options (62%)  as an alternative:

Chart_Q7_151104(Interestingly, 19% chose “parents could receive sample bags of breastfeeding-related products”. I find this interesting, as it does negate the more palatable argument (at least in terms of feminism and bodily autonomy) that the reason to ban the bags is to take corporate interests/marketing out of healthcare settings. Apparently, predatory marketing on postpartum women is perfectly okay, provided it comes from Lansinoh rather than Similac.)

Many respondents mentioned feeling like the gift bags “normalized” formula, saying that it was the only time formula was mentioned or seen during their hospital stay. For those choosing to formula feed or combo-feed from the start, this can be disheartening. If formula were discussed as an option, without the scare tactics or patronizing language used in most healthcare settings, perhaps getting rid of the bags would meet with less outrage. In a space left for respondent comments, a sense of feeling marginalized and that there was only one “right” choice for infant feeding was clear:

“I had zero information about the right way to formula feed. I had no idea how good formula was good for, how to properly store it, the right amount to give, etc– I only learned from formula containers. Information about this in a pamphlet would have been very helpful.” 

“The lack of free formula is not my concern. I am concerned that regulating this shames formula feeders (i.e., the message is that formula is so awful it should not be given out by a hospital). I am also concerned about the total lack of education in hospitals about when and how to supplement or EFF.”

“ These are often the first times mom and dad are presented with formula, and the only “education” and information they may receive about it. Yet breastfeeding info and help is available in quite a widespread manner. Again to take this away would do a great deal of harm for parents who may exclusively formula feed, as they could certainly use whatever educational info they can get about formula feeding.”

“Parents should be given accurate, and unbiased info about ALL feeding options. Denying info about a healthy, and nutritional feeding choice merely due to zealotry does nothing to help women, or children.”

“Formula information and samples should always be available on request – no questions asked. Also safe and clear information for both feeding methods needs to be made to all parents. Breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding, sterilising equipment, post partum depression, maternal health, and safe practice for storing formula and breastmilk.”

Although there’s been a recent backlash against breastfeeding pressure, this is not an issue of questioning breastfeeding’s benefits. Of course hospitals should be protecting and supporting breastfeeding, provided it is something a woman is not opposed to doing, but we also have to be realistic: formula is here to stay. It is going to be used, and the way we’re going about things now, it is going to be used incorrectly, with shame and guilt and fear. Of course direct marketing to patients has no place in the healthcare setting, but in a climate where formula is being kept under lock and key and treated like tobacco or alcohol, we need to be aware that the formula companies are often the only ones discussing their product with new parents. If we truly care about “putting the health of our smallest patients first”, then do exactly that, because leaving their parents without proper info on formula use is putting their heath in danger. Making their mothers feel marginalized simply because their breasts don’t work how they are supposed to, or because they have personal, valid reasons for not wanting to feed a child from a culturally, emotionally-loaded part of the female anatomy, puts the mothers’ health in danger, which can obviously affect infant health as well.

These are not simple issues, so let’s not oversimplify them by insisting that taking away a bag – a bag that can be taken or left, like the jello on the hospital tray – is going to make a huge impact on breastfeeding rates, while ignoring the impact it may have on the experiences of formula-using parents.

Balance before bans. That’s all we ask.






FFF Friday: “Feeling upset over not breastfeeding turned out to be a huge waste of time.”

I was showed FC my piece in the Mothering Through the Darkness anthology , and he very wisely pointed out that I have mentioned him (by name) quite a bit in my published work… but Fearlette? Not so much. “She’s gonna be upset, Mom,” he said. “You better write a book about her.”

This got me thinking. I should write something for Fearlette. Not to share with the world, necessarily, but to share with her, when she gets older. How amazing would it be to have letters or essays from your parents about you as a small child; about them as young parents? 

That’s why I love Lisa Young’s beautiful letter, which she has so graciously offered to share as this week’s FFF Friday. I hope it inspires some of you to write letters to your own children. They probably won’t ask or care about how they were fed as infants, until they have children of their own – but that might be the perfect time to show them these letters, so that they won’t feel lost with all the muddled, weighty decisions new parents must go through. That’s nice to imagine, isn’t it?

 Happy Friday, fearless ones,




Letter to D

By Lisa Young

To my darling D, an explanation of how I fed you as a baby…….

I write this in case you one day want an explanation of your feeding regime as an infant. I also write it for myself and any other women present and future for whom early feeding hasn’t gone smoothly for. Given I doubt you will give a toss how you were fed when old enough to understand, I feel the purpose of this is far more about the latter two things! But anyway….

Before you came along I couldn’t wait to have you with us and was so excited to meet you. I was however petrified of the idea of childbirth. Therefore all my energy went into trying to keep myself relaxed and calm so I could bring you into the world safely. Breastfeeding, so I thought would be a breeze in comparison, it was birth that I needed to focus on. I did no research about how to breastfeed or what could go wrong. I went along to a couple of classes which highlighted how easy it would be where there was no mention of any issues that could occur, or more importantly what could be done about them. I thought it would just happen and gave it no further thought.

Bringing you into the world could not have been more straight forward, after all my worry, you came so easily, on time and without any problems or delays. I was elated, relieved and more than anything, so happy to have you with us safely. I was relaxed on the presumption I would be able to breastfeed you soon, only this changed a little when the midwife spotted you were tongue tied and said it may impair your ability to feed. This stuck in the back of my mind but I proceeded to enjoy our first hours of skin to skin and presumed it would work itself out.

When it came to our first feed it went seemingly well, you latched on and managed to take some milk, I thought we had it sorted. Sadly that was one of the few successful latches we could form and things took a bit of a turn for the worse. Your tongue inhibited you and my breasts got more and more bruised from incorrect latching because I didn’t really know what I was doing or how to feed a baby with a tongue tie. The number of staff who could latch you to me decreased as you became more hungry and frustrated, and aside from a very inundated and infrequently available breastfeeding consultant I didn’t know who else could make this happen for us.

Late in the evening of your first night, you had got hungrier and the breastfeeding consultant was long gone for the day. You cried and I sobbed – I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t latch you to me but I had also been told in one of my classes that formula was indigestible. I didn’t want to cause you indigestion but I couldn’t bare to hear you cry. A staff member who had tried to help us looked quite relieved when in desperation I said I would try formula.

You drank it with such relief and she turned to me softly and told me I was sensible and doing the right thing for you. It helped to hear this but the guilt I felt blocked my ability to believe her fully.

The days that followed saw me express milk relentlessly and use top ups of formula. Many staff were very supportive of this regime, one or two however, less so. It pains me to write out all the negative things we were told about formula but there were a number of them and each time I fed it to you, I cringed and felt like a bad mother. Your tongue was soon snipped but by this point you were so used to bottle feeding that asking you to change was too much. Once again the hospital staff member who performed your snip could not latch you to me. Along with slagging off formula, she gave us advice on how to breastfeed, which on reflection was so unhelpful. We left the hospital stuck and alone. Despite your procedure, I was no closer to breastfeeding you and despite her kindness and efforts, not even our local breastfeeding counselor’s guidance seemed to help us form a latch.quotescover-JPG-10

I finally found a nipple shield and thought we’d hit the jackpot. The first day I exclusively fed you with it I felt on cloud nine and got to feel I was making a good choice for you. I continued to feed you exclusively by breast but my feelings of excitement were short lived, as within days the agony the nipple shield caused became unbearable and even more distressing was your dissatisfaction with feeding this way. Your frequent  distress unless on my breast implied you weren’t getting enough milk and were feeling continually hungry.  I winced in pain each time I fed you and was soon forced to stop when I came down with mastitis and was bed bound. It took all the energy I had to keep expressing milk, the rest of the time, I just slept.

When I recovered I just couldn’t face going back to using the nipple shield that had caused us both so much difficulty, so I expressed around the clock and continued to try latching you. Never did we get there with that elusive latch and the expressing got more and more of a chore. I wanted to do it for you because I didn’t want to give up on my supply and my vision of eventually breastfeeding you, I also wanted you to have breast milk after being told it was better for you. The only thing is, every time I expressed milk it took me away from you; from cuddling you, enjoying you and just watching what a miracle you are. The resentment and tiredness from doing it only increased and when your daddy went back to work, it was clear I wasn’t going to have enough time to continue. My body and heart together decided it was time to let go and put the pump away. My supply decreased and eventually dried and the pump went back in its box.

For a while I mourned the breastfeeding I never got to do but at the same time I got a whole new lease of life. This was the beginning point of a new relationship for us, I hung out with you, watched you, hugged you even more and didn’t need to be anywhere other than right there with you, enjoying you. I really started to delight in this pressure free mummy hood! I think you enjoyed it too, you just seemed to get happier and happier over the weeks and months that followed.

As I’ve recovered from the anxiety and exhaustion I felt in your earlier months, I don’t regret stopping my attempts to give you breast milk, if anything perhaps I should have done it a little sooner. The reason I put all that pressure on myself was because I had listened so hard to the breast is best agenda. For a while I felt failure like I had not felt in years. But with time it became clear that the use of formula to feed you was perfect, because you were and are perfect. Perfectly gaining weight, perfectly developing, perfectly happy, a perfect, content baby. Whereas there are said to be natural benefits to breast milk (for example anti bodies) that formula may not be able to replicate, I now feel assured it is a great alternative choice. It has been very nourishing for you and you’ve demonstrated that it certainly is digestible! I also know too many intelligent, healthy adults who were bottle fed and who prove there isn’t a drastic difference between boob and bottle. I know you are going to be fine!.. More than fine.

What I do regret is being so heavily influenced by the negativity about formula and the hype around breastfeeding. By believing such, I let our feeding regime define my perceived ability as a mother. I have since been learning a very valuable lesson from this; that a mother’s instinct and happiness are far more powerful that the loud voices, opinions and agendas of others. It pays not to be so easily influenced and to listen to ourselves as much as or even more so than others. The day I listened to myself instead of all the hype was the day I put myself back in the driving seat of motherhood and I have been continually gaining confidence since. Feeling upset over not breast feeding you turned out to be a huge waste of valuable time which we will never get back and for this reason I hope that feeding agendas change in support of encouraging the best feeding method for each individual mother – whatever it is. Instead of all the comparisons between breast milk and formula we should just celebrate that we have different ways to feed our babies and the resources to make a choice that is best for our family.

My network of local mummy friends have been amazingly supportive and non judgemental of my feeding journey and I am so grateful to them. I am also so thankful to your daddy and our family who have stuck by all my choices without question. Most of all though, I am so thankful to you, my darling little bundle of joy who loves me, smiles at me and hugs me every day, completely unconditionally and regardless of how I feed you. Every time I watch you explore your world, enjoy your food, learn to crawl and engage so lovingly and positively with everyone around you, it is a reminder that you are not negatively affected by how you were fed and are the most content, happy little boy. If we are ever lucky enough to give you a brother or sister your amazing development and total contentment are plentiful reassurance that they too will be fine – however they are fed.


Love you forever………

Mummy xxxx


Feel like sharing your story? Email me at formulafeeders@gmail.com

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