It is common in the United States for some hospitals, obstetricians and pediatricians to give pregnant women and new mothers a gift bag. Most often, these gift bags are given to healthcare providers free from major infant formula companies. The bags contain coupons from various retailers, samples of infant-related items (such as diapers, wipes and diaper cream), information on parenting, and most importantly, items that promote formula feeding, including formula samples, infant feeding bottles, and formula coupons.
Sound scientific research shows that distribution of bags containing formula is related to lower levels of breastfeeding initiation and shorter breastfeeding duration than when bags containing information on breastfeeding without infant formula samples are provided (Bergevin et al. 1983; Bliss et al. 1997; DiGirolamo et al. 2001; Frank et al. 1987; Murray et al. 2007; Rosenberg et al. 2008). The main reason is that most women encounter some difficulty with breastfeeding. Without ample support and education, they turn to the resources provided to them by their healthcare providers – formula. Major national and international health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Academy of Family Physicians, recommend discontinuing the distribution of infant formula by healthcare providers or limiting distribution to certain circumstances.
In accordance with the WHO International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes and The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)/WHO Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative, The Breastfeeding Project seeks to minimize the negative effects of formula bag distribution by providing pregnant women in the Central Florida area and beyond with a Breastfeeding Bag. Each Breastfeeding Bag contains up-to-date information on the art and science of breastfeeding and resources where women can obtain additional breastfeeding education and support.
Our first phase of Breastfeeding Bag distribution consisted of 600 bags and was completed by the end of 2012. As of May 2014 we have successfully assembled and distributed over 1500 bags. These bags are distributed by midwives, obstetricians, pediatricians, lactation specialists, doulas and other healthcare professionals as well as retailers with high proportions of pregnant clients. Our distribution is currently limited to the Central Florida area, including locations in Orlando, Sanford, Longwood, Altamonte, Daytona and New Smyrna. Breastfeeding Bags are also distributed at health and birth fairs in the Orlando area.
Each Breastfeeding Bag contains the following:
v The Bag itself is a standard, re-usable cloth grocery bag with The Breastfeeding Project name and logo printed on the front.
v A folder containing breastfeeding information. Contents of the folder include:
o A letter introducing the project and explaining the contents and purpose of the bag.
o A “Thank You to Our Sponsors” sheet that provides names, websites and contact information of our Platinum Sponsors, Gold Sponsors and Sponsors (updated every 100 bags).
o A list of Photography Partners including names, websites and contact information (updated every 100 bags).
o A list of Doula Partners including names, websites and contact information, and an explanation of the roles of a birth doula and a postpartum doula.
o A list of Breastfeeding Resources, including names and contact information for lactation specialists, breastfeeding classes, breastfeeding support groups, breastfeeding help lines and educational websites.
o A packet of information about breastfeeding which includes:
§ Benefits of Breastfeeding and Risks of Formula Feeding
§ Ten Breastfeeding Myths
§ Frequently Asked Questions
§ Breastfeeding Basics
§ Best Practices for Breastfeeding Moms
§ The First Three Days
§ Breastfeeding Tips for Partners
§ Exclusive Breastfeeding and Feeding on Demand
§ Basics of a Good Latch
§ Skin to Skin and Co-sleeping
§ Breast Pumping and Milk Storage
§ Common Breastfeeding Discomforts and Health Issues
§ Breastfeeding and HIV
v A re-usable water bottle with The Breastfeeding Project name and logo printed on the front to remind women to stay hydrated while breastfeeding.
v A hot/cold compress with instructions for breastfeeding use.
v A DVD showing proper latch provided by Ameda (when available).
v Breastfeeding-related product samples and coupons provided by donors. Examples include re-usable breast pads, breast milk storage bags and nipple cream.
v Baby-related product samples and coupons that are not directly related to breastfeeding provided by sponsors. Examples include coupons for photography, massage and diapers.
Although we would love to supply every pregnant woman in the Central Florida area with a Breastfeeding Bag, our demand far outweighs our supply. Even with buying in bulk to lower costs, our bags cost about $7 each in supplies and all assembly is done by volunteers. Please consider donating to our Breastfeeding Bag Fund or becoming a Sponsor, Photography Partner, or Doula Partner. All of these proceeds go directly to the cost of the Breastfeeding Bags.
Bergevin, Yves, Cynthia Dougherty and Michael S. Kramer. 1983. Do Infant Formula Samples Shorten the Duration of Breast-feeding? The Lancet 321(8334): 1148-51.
Bliss, Mary Campbell, Joy Wilkie, Curt Acredolo, Susan Berman and Kathleen Phillips Tebb. 1997. The effect of discharge pack formula and breast pumps on breastfeeding duration and choice of infant feeding method. Birth 24(2): 90-7.
DiGirolamo, Ann M., Laurence M. Grummer-Strawn and Sara Fein. 2001. Maternity Care Practices: Implications for Breastfeeding. Birth 28(2): 94-100.
Frank, Deborah A., Stephen J. Wirtz, James R. Sorenson and Timothy Heeren. 1987. Commercial discharge packs and breast-feeding counseling: Effects on infant-feeding practices in a randomized trial. Pediatrics 80: 845-854.
Murray, Erin K., Sue Ricketts and Jennifer Dellaport. 2007. Hospital Practices that Increase Breastfeeding Duration: Results from a Population-Based Study. Birth 34(3): 202-11.
Rosenberg, Kenneth D., Carissa A. Eastham, Laurin J. Kasehagen and Alfredo P. Sandoval. 2008. Marketing Infant Formula Through Hospitals: The Impact of Commercial Hospital Discharge Packs on Breastfeeding. American Journal of Public Health 98(2): 290-5.