Is it time to rethink the rule on ‘no formula for newborns’ in hospital?

One expert thinks so - and we totally get where she's coming from

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One of the MFM team distinctly remembers sending her hubby out to buy formula while she was still in hospital after their baby was born, as the hospital wouldn’t provide it, despite the fact her little one was screaming for food as she was struggling to breastfeed.

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And this is probably not an uncommon situation for many new mums, right?

Global guidelines set out by UNICEF state that babies should only be breastfed for the first 6 months – and shouldn’t be given formula even in the early days after they’re born when their mother might not yet be producing much milk. 

In order to get accredited with UNICEF’s Baby Friendly Initiative many hospitals in the UK and USA have strict rules about not providing formula unless absolutely necessary – which may be risking your little one’s health by causing dehydration.

“The Baby Friendly Initiative has gone hand in hand with less support for formula or mixed-feeding parents,” Sasha Howard, a paediatrician at Barts Health Trust in London, told New Scientist.

 “Ten years ago, you could ask for a bottle of formula… It’s no longer available in some hospitals. I hear of dads being sent out to buy some at 3 am because the baby wasn’t feeding and there simply was no formula.”

In addition, Howard reckons that “banning formula may impact negatively on the very thing you’re trying to achieve” – as a little bit of formula to tide you over while your start producing more milk can actually raise the breastfeeding rate in the long term.

A task force in the US is now looking at these stringent rules and it looks as if, across the pond at least, the tide could be turning on this issue. But it remains to be seen if similar changes will make their way to the UK.

What do you think?

Did you use formula in hospital after having your baby? Did they provide it or did you have to buy your own?

Do you think relaxing these rules is a good idea? Tell us in the comments below or over on Facebook

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