If you're pregnant, you've probably already thought about how you'll inevitably feed your baby. It's natural to wonder how the hospital you deliver at might play a roll in that decision, too. If you plan to formula-feed from the start, or simply want to have formula available in case breastfeeding doesn't work out or you want to supplement, you might be surprised to learn that there are actually "rules" about hospitals offering formula. At some hospitals, getting formula to feed your baby isn't as easy as asking for it or checking a box on an intake form.
According to Baby-Friendly USA, U.S. hospitals that have received a Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) designation must follow certain rules about when and how they offer formula to new parents. Designed to promote exclusive breastfeeding, they follow the World Health Organization's (WHO) "Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding," which, as SELF reports, might limit a new parent's ability to use formula to feed their babies in these specific hospitals after childbirth. According to the 2016 BFHI guidelines, all babies are to be considered breastfeeding unless, after receiving breastfeeding counseling and education, their moms state otherwise. This means that, at some hospitals, nurses are not allowed to offer formula unless it's requested, or, as reported by the Fed Is Best Foundation, new moms have signed a waiver acknowledging the so-called risks of formula-feeding. Other hospitals will allow formula only with a doctor's prescription.
If you decide to supplement with formula, the BFHI recommends that you not use a bottle, because they believe it might interfere with breastfeeding. Instead, some BFHI hospitals have new moms use a syringe, cup, spoon, supplemental nursing system, or even their finger and some tubing to give their baby formula when needed. So with that in mind, here's a few formula-feeding rules some hospitals abide by that all parents should be aware of: