UK Hospital Just Had All Their Baby Formula Banned And People Are Rightly Pissed

babyformulaRemember when Mayor Bloomberg had baby formula restricted in New York hospitals? Well, Burnley General Hospital in the U.K can one up that one as their formula just got straight banned along with all the equipment that goes with it. And people are rightly pissed.

Banning baby formula will reportedly save the hospital up to £24,000 a year, but the main incentive here is — you guessed it — upping those breastfeeding numbers. But those of you who have been there know that breastfeeding isn’t always possible, and with NO formula available, well, that’s exactly not the situation you want to be in.

Furthermore, if you do decide to use baby formula or just plain need it, you will be “told” to bring your own ready-made formula for your entire hospital stay. And yes, I didn’t stutter over “ready-made.” Because all “sterilising equipment and preparation facilities” for baby formula at the hospitals will also be tossed out too. Health advocates are not pleased with this decision:

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “In the big scheme of things £24,000 is absolutely nothing. By all means encourage women to breastfeed but it’s ridiculous to dictate to people how they feed their babies. It’s the hospitals’ job to ensure the child is properly fed until they leave the ward. That’s their responsibility.”…

Mum-of-two Kath Gibbons, who runs yoga classes for pregant mums in Pendle and Burnley, said: “This does surprise me slightly because there might be an issue for mums who aren’t able to breastfeed for whatever reason. In an ideal world every woman would breastfeed but things don’t always work out like that.”

Russ McLean, chairman of the Pennine Lancashire Patient Voices Group, said: “I find this unacceptable on a lot of levels, because this is a very personal choice for the mother to make.There may be a number of reasons why a mum can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed. Newborn babies are still patients and they are entitled to be fed by the hopsitals like any other. And getting rid of the sterilising equipment could also create problems if someone runs out.”

High-risk babies with reportedly be spared this draconian nonsense. So there’s that.

(photo: N-lite NutriHealth)

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  • There are a lot of things hospitals don’t supply that new parents bring in themselves. When I had my baby, I had to bring in my own nursing bras, nursing pads, lansinoh cream, etc. Why should formula be any different?

    • Emil

      because it’s food

    • Sundaydrive00

      You can nurse without a special bra, lansinoh cream, etc. If a baby does not latch and take to breast feeding, you can’t really feed the baby if you don’t have formula and bottles.

    • Lindsey Sweet

      Most women don’t go into the hospital thinking they need to bring formula, because they are PLANNING on breastfeeding……’s kinda of like saying they won’t be having a meal for you, bring your own!

    • Katia

      I strongly disagree that most people are planning to breast feed. People say all the time on this site “I knew I didn’t want to breast feed”

    • bgk

      The CDC says that “breastfeeding initiation” (meaning you do it at the beginning) is up to a little over 75%. & it’s going up roughly 2% every year. By 6 months it drops to almost 50%, but that’s still a vast majority of mothers at least attempting it. Just because someone says they don’t WANT to do something doesn’t mean they WON’T do it. (CDC page:

    • Annie

      Operative words being “on this site”.

    • Jessica

      I did NOT want to breast feed. When my husband gently suggested I at least consider it, I curled up in a ball on the couch and sobbed. (Totally reasonable reaction, no?). Finally I ended up conceding that I would at least try, all the while telling my friends that I planned a 3 day max stint with the whole thing. Fast forward to my daughter being born and me nursing nearly exclusively for 9 months until my milk dried up due to another pregnancy. The thing I’ve found with parenting is that you don’t always know what you think you know, and trying to be prepared for multiple outcomes is rarely something you aren’t glad to have done!

    • Emil

      totally none of my business so feel free to ignore but can I ask why you were so against it and what changed your mind?

    • LH Smith

      I also knew I couldn’t breastfeed after my first baby. But with the first baby I had no idea that I would not make enough milk. I had a lethargic baby sick with jaundice and gave up.. put him on formula quite quickly. With a second I thought I was just not trying hard enough.. it’s what I was told over and over.. so I tried every known med, herb, gadget, and tactic known to man… and still nothing – baby ended up hospitalized, tested for three days.. he was fine. It’s me that was broken. It took THAT LONG for them to realize this. It’s sad. and my diagnosis of IGT is growing :(

    • Evelyn

      In my case because my baby was in the special care baby unit, needing extra calories to fight infection and throwing up a lot more breast milk than a healthy baby due to the strong antibiotics he was on. As I had just had a fairly traumatic birth we were quite relieved that the hospital took care of that for us, plus I couldn’t make enough on demand for the SCBU staff to feed him through nose tubes when he needed it and I was recovering in my room. Yes, SCBU is apparently except but mums often go into hospital expecting to nurse exclusively so don’t pack formula and some times can’t. If they don’t provide sterilization equipment then feeding becomes hard even if you do pack formula.

    • Ann

      Because all that stuff you named is not a bare necessity. Food is.

    • Yves

      Because you need food to live, you don’t need a nursing bra. You’re not making a relevant comparison. How can a baby eat if breastfeeding isn’t an option? They can’t order a burger from the cafeteria.

      (And even if it is an option, I hate the idea of being FORCED to use your body if you don’t want to.)

    • Angela

      Are all the other patients told to provide your own food? If I’m having surgery should I come prepared with a cooler stocked with sandwiches? No, essentially they’ve announced they will provide food for everyone EXCEPT babies.

    • Amanda

      Meh. As an adult patient, you also probably expect to have bed linens, bed pans (if needed), and towels provided. But, in the UK things are different (I lived there and had a baby there). When I had my son, we had to provide our own diapers, towels, everything really. I appreciate that formula/BM are FOOD but if you want to formula feed why not just bring your own? It really isn’t that big of a deal. And, if you end up needing some, they will CERTAINLY be selling it in the hospital shops (just like they sold diapers when we ran out and needed more). I get wanting a choice, but you have one — breastfeed or formula feed. Either way YOU (the parent) are essentially providing the food not the hospital.

    • Tinyfaeri

      That’s kind of silly. Since they’re going to charge for it anyway (hospitals in the US at least charge for every single thing), if they’re CERTAINLY going to be selling it in the hospital gift shop, why not just provide it?

    • Rachel Sea

      Lots of people go to hospital unprepared. Babies come early, labor comes fast…it’s mad to expect everyone who *might* need formula to have some on hand.

    • Momma425

      There is absolutely no reason why someone should have to run to the gift shop or let their child starve. It is not my responsibility after having a c-section to run downstairs to the gift shop to get a sandwich, and it is not my responsibility to run down there when my child needs her meal either.
      Further- after having my child, I was given pads to wear while in the hospital and I changed them when I needed to with a new pad from same hospital. The same thing would happen if I needed adult diapers, etc… Having to bring my own diapers is absolutely ridiculous. Nope, not gonna happen. Any hospital telling me I need to bring my own food, my baby’s own food, or my own diapers/pads can kiss my big fat butt.

    • Kat

      I’m increasingly of the view that ‘meh’ is one of the more irritating responses to, well, just about anything. Not that I would disagree with you less if you hadn’t used it – as well as what everyone else has said, sometimes you don’t have the choice.

    • jendra_berri

      Seriously? Did you also bring in all your meals or did the hospital provide those for you? The baby has been admitted to the hospital and is entitled to food. If mom provides it, that’s her prerogative and right. If not, it’s heinous of the hospital to deny a patient sustenance.

    • LH Smith

      It should be different because a lot of mothers have no idea going into have a baby whether or not they will make milk at all. I feel bad for the first time mother who goes in.. gives birth.. and oh crap, no milk! And yes this happens.. it happened to me.

  • Emil

    I have a hard time imagining how this is possible. Aside from the obvious objections most of us would have there are situations where this could be life threatening. What about when a pregnant woman comes in off the street, has the baby and abandons him/her? What about when a two month old is removed from it’s home due to neglect and is admitted to the hospital because he/she is malnourished? If there is no parent present that can provide breastmilk or buy formula they plan on letting the baby starve to death?

    • Sundaydrive00

      It does say high risk babies will be spared from this policy, so I would think that would include abandoned babies.

    • Emil

      thanks, I knew I must be missing something

    • jr023

      but it said all the equipment is being trashed so how are they going to accomplish feeding the infants bring them to a new birth mother and have her nurse a stranger

    • Katia

      I think they would use the ready made formula and the bottles with drop in liners. Would the nipples be an issue still?

    • Amanda

      I lived in the UK until just recently, and had my first baby there. When we were hospitalized for some feeding problems/weight loss, we were given ready made formula in either glass or plastic bottles that doubled as the feeding bottle. The nipples were also single use disposable. I was also pumping to get as much BM as possible and used the hospital machine with parts that were solely for me and were disposable (I used them for 2 days, needing only to wash in hot, soapy water). I imagine the hospital will have all this on hand, still, for high risk and emergency situations. Sterlizing equipment isn’t necessary for any of this; it is entirely possible for the hospital to have what it needs on hand without having the extra equipment (I’m not saying it is environmentally friendly, but it is possible).

    • LH Smith

      My babies were not high risk babies.. and yet. I have broken boobies. Kinda didn’t know that before hand… definitely needed the formula but had no clue ahead of time… so if I had lived in the UK, I guess my babies would starve?

  • jr023

    looks like a hospital manager who cares more about money than lives in sw Florida theirs a hospital that does that its got 3 letters and never come home is the areas slang for its name

    • Rachel Sea

      People will do the worst things to save a dime.

      As an aside, I think you may be getting downvoted over punctuation. It was hard to understand what you were saying without at least having periods between the sentences.

  • Rachelle

    Although our situation was exceptional, our “Friends of Baby” pro-nursing hospital had formula on hand for us the day after I gave birth since I was having a hard time producing colostrum at first even though my daughter was latching on very well – the nurses were concerned that she was losing more weight than she should be and well a whole novel of other things I’ll skip tonight. Patients were however told at the visit that if they chose to forgo breastfeeding and go straight to formula, they should bring a sufficient supply themselves.

  • Ellefont

    My preemies needed to eat a complicated concoction of expressed breastmilk and concentrated formula. How are they supposed to prepare that without bottles and sterilizing equipment?

    Or say you have triplets. Do you pick which one gets to eat?

  • jendra_berri

    I’m so over all this crap about how great breastfeeding is– to the extent that women are shamed into it, coerced into it, forced into it and otherwise made to feel like bad mothers for using formula ever.

    Breast milk is better, yes, but not SO much better that all of this hooplah is justified. Breastfeeding should not be promoted, in my opinion. Supported, yes, to the full extent: public breastfeeding, pumping breaks, better maternity leave, affordable or covered lactation consultants.

    But Jesus H Murphy, it’s okay to opt out! Maybe you can’t feed for any variety of reasons, maybe you plain don’t want to after the life-hijack that is pregnancy. Choice, man. Choice. We are people, first and foremost. We are more than our breasts. If we want to reclaim them at any time, that is our personal business.

    • keelhaulrose

      The worst day I had as a new mother (with my first, my second was a different can of worms) was the day I realized I couldn’t produce enough milk to feed my daughter. I tried everything I could, and got a lot of “it’ll happen” followed by “you’re not trying hard enough”. I nearly had a breakdown trying to feed my daughter, I had her on my breasts six hours straight at one point hoping something miraculous would happen, crying the whole time. It wasn’t until my mother convinced me it would be better for my health and hers if I just started formula that I was able to calm down, and I still got people chanting “breast is best” when they saw me bottle-feeding my daughter. The lactivists can be horrible and cruel.

    • Annie


      I’m so sorry you had to go through that, what a bunch of assholes!

    • Blooming_Babies

      Seriously, there are some things I will never understand and this is one of them. You know whose not trying hard enough? People who shake their babies. People who refuse to deal and let their babies cry endlessly. People who don’t feed their babies at all. The list goes on. Mothers who love, care for and feed their babies are all created equal.

    • Kate

      I, too, was unable to breastfeed. It was so liberating when I finally told myself it was okay to stop trying. I never looked back.

    • Happier Gilmore

      Preach it, sister~ I’m with you all the way.

  • doxgukka

    formula has to be better than the alternative – I have a vintage kids book collection (like encyclopedia type things but kids stories) and the first one is basically parenting info from the 50s – how to make milk for baby if you can not breastfeed – from the top of my head i know it contains condensed milk… CONDENSED MILK!

    • Rachelle

      My husband and his sister were Carnation milk babies. Crazy hunh! My MIL had even suggested it to me, to which I giggled and said “If ever I have a hankering for something old school, I’ll let you know.”

  • Amanda Rene Slinger

    I just gave birth a week ago, I was induced for 36 hours before labor stalled and I had to have a C section. I love breastfeeding but my milk is not coming in. I’ve had a registered LC out to my home and everything is perfect except I just am not making much milk. Not everyone who WANTS to breastfeeding CAN. It’s bullshit for any healthcare facility to pull this stunt. Formula is NOT the devil, narrow minded sancti-assholes that turn every aspect of parenting into a huge guiltfest are the fucking devil. Babies need to eat. Period. How that gets done is nobodies business but the parents.

    • Mel

      Congrats on your new baby!

    • Amanda Rene Slinger

      Thank you! At the risk of sounding corny as hell I do have to say I never knew I could love someone so much that I just met. He is just wonderful. :-)

  • Kelby Johnson

    This is so wrong on so many levels. So what is a woman supposed to do if she isn’t making milk or if she has trouble latching on. There are so many different scenarios where formula feeding is needed that banning all formula in the hospital is just insane. Talk about pressure on new moms. I thought breastfeeding was supposed to be calming and about bonding, not forced upon people.

  • Renee

    I tried to breastfeed and didn’t produce enough milk. My daughter was actually re-hospitalized due to extreme weight loss and I was told that I had to at least supplement with formula, if not move to formula full time. I tried for the next four weeks to boost my supply — constant pumping, prescription drugs, herbs, I met with 8 (!!) different lactation consultants. Nothing worked. I developed mastitis which turned into a huge breast abscess. I finally gave it all up. And I still get crap about quitting breastfeeding.

    I hate the breast is best campaign because it’s crap like that that made me feel guilty for the first six weeks of my daughter’s life. I was miserable because I felt like I should be doing better, and I just couldn’t. Breastfeeding is great when it works out, but women shouldn’t be shamed or made to feel like failures if it doesn’t.

    • Amanda Rene Slinger

      Thank you for sharing this, my little guy was at 10.5% weight loss on Wednesday so we started full formula and pumping/nursing for a little extra. I don’t know if my milk will ever come in all the way but it is nice to know I’m not alone. If anyone gives me shit about not breastfeeding I’m going fucking ape shit on their ass. Does is REALLY fucking matter how a baby is fed as long as they are loved and healthy?

      Who the hell do people think they are? Last I checked judging people about personal decisions pertaining to their own body shouldn’t even be an issue, because it’s none of their fucking business anyway. Sorry I get kinda ragey about this but I’ve done a lot of crying in the last week over this subject, thank god I have my husband to tell me I’m doing a good job and that it’s not my fault. A good LC who is reasonable on the subject helped a lot too.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      I struggled with latch and production issues. I only was able to take four weeks of mat leave anyway so I gave it up. I felt so guilty and would get teary eyed thinking about it for 6 months, but my daughter is four now and healthy, smart, beautiful and rarely gets sick. Please know that you have NOTHING to feel guilty for, and by the time the kid is older you’ll see that it doesn’t make you feel bad anymore. You’ll have new things to feel bad about, lol. Like my mother told me, “There is never a time as a mother that you won’t feel guilty about SOMETHING. ”

    • footnotegirl

      I had a serious underproduction problem (probably due to breast hypoplasia) and the third lactation consultant I went to was a freaking angel. She tested the baby’s latch (perfect, she had a perfect latch, which was almost sadistic what with my inability to produce) and said she’d be fine on a bottle, and also got me a pendant feeder that allowed me to nurse and supplement at the same time. With that and pumping, I was able to both breast feed and formula supplement for 3 months, at which point my daughter refused the breast entirely. It says a lot for how little I was producing that even though she quit cold turkey, I never had a moments engorgement or pain when she stopped.

    • Kat

      Your baby will thrive because you love him and you feed him. I went through production problems initially, then breast refusal which never got better despite the most fantastic support and advice. When my supply dried up entirely following the death of my best friend I was secretly relieved. When my baby started relaxing, sleeping and feeding I wished I taken the pressure of myself earlier! You are doing great and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • AP

    Watch this backfire on the hospital. Parents who would say, “Oh well, I want to breastfeed but if the baby needs formula we can just get some from the hospital,” will start thinking, “Oh, no! What if the baby needs formula and the hospital won’t allow us to have any? We should buy some just in case,” and then parents who wouldn’t have normally brought formula will have all the bottlefeeding equipment in the room ready to go, “Well we paid for it, such a waste to throw it out…”

    Full disclosure: I don’t care how babies are fed. I really don’t. I also don’t care if you feed your kid organic kale or regular carrots from Target. The kid’s being reasonably fed, I don’t care.

  • Rachel Sea

    This is nuts. I’m all for breastfeeding, but you don’t get to know in advance how well it will work for you. They should at least be prepared with disposable bottles, finger feeders, or supplemental nursing systems. I understand wanting people who know they are going to formula feed to supply themselves, but it’s making the assumption that a lot of well laid plans won’t go awry.

  • Kim

    I developed large cysts in my milk ducts two days post-partum and couldn’t breastfeed. Fortunately the hospital had formula on hand because due to ruptured cysts, blood and cyst fluid was all that was coming out of me, and I actually had to pump it out. It was vile.
    But it turned out that my daughter was lactose intolerant and had a terrible reaction to the only formula the hospital had, so my husband was driving around in the middle of the night trying to find a 24 hour pharmacy that stocked lactose free formula (as the 24 hour supermarket only stocked the regular kind) while I was sitting in hospital with a very hungry, screaming baby, blood dripping out of my breasts contemplating whether we can hold out for an hour longer in the hopes that my husband finds some or whether I should give her the formula that is going to make her stomach distend, where she will be screaming in pain.
    So here I am making the argument that hospitals should also stock small amount of special diet formula, yet here’s this hospital taking all formula away.
    Really fucking wrong.

  • Momma425

    So what would happen if, say, a woman came to the hospital, didn’t bring her own formula, and wasn’t breastfeeding (either wasn’t able to for some reason or simply didn’t want to and refused). Would the hospital REALLY let that baby starve?
    If the hospitals in my state do this kind of BS when I get around to have my second child, we will test that question. I choose not to breastfeed and further I REFUSE to ever bring my own formula to the hospital. When my child is born, my child is a patient and the hospital provides food for their patients. When I am a patient in the hospital, they don’t say, “You know what? You need to being your own meals.” Nope. I would have zero problem paying for the formula that the hospital gives my child, just like I pay for any food I consume in the hospital (or my insurance does).
    The hospital can do whatever they want to in order to try and manipulate women into breastfeeding, but whether there is formula readily available ot not, I have made up my mind. It is not something I need more education about, it is not something that someone can convince me otherwise about. I’m not going to sign a waiver, my husband won’t either…and I am not bringing my own. Bet you a million dollars my kid gets formula from that hospital.

  • footnotegirl

    This is SO ANGRY MAKING. I really really wanted to exclusively breast feed my baby, and my hospital was hugely supportive of that, but when we returned to the hospital a day and a half after taking her home (so, four days after giving birth to her) and she was dehydrated and loogy and it turned out it was because I was producing MAYBE a teaspoon of breast milk a day? They were able to give me an emergency supply of formula to supplement with. Because sometimes breasts DO NOT WORK and babies still need to eat. JESUS. So angry. Also plus? Her boobies, HER CHOICE.

  • Marie

    So stupid!! My daughter was a large baby, and she was literally born hungry (she started lip smacking 4 minutes out of my c-section). For the first 3 days of her life, my colostrum was not enough to keep her fed. After she tried to nurse for 4 hours straight and started to attack my nipple with her mouth in frustration cause she drank me dry, we begged the nurse for formula to top it up. The hospital staff was judgy and rude, they gave us this crappy cup with sharp edges to feed her instead of something practical, they wrote down in our chart that we were on a “slippery slope” (their words), the lactation consultant started stalking us, and they called our home everyday for a week to talk about my boobs. As soon as my milk started to pour out, we were way way fine (we’ve been strictly breastfeeding for almost 3 months now with zero issues except leaky boobs from an overflow of milk, and my daughter is growing like weed). So even though everything worked out ideally for us with the breastfeeding, formula was very useful to us for a few days, and the lactivists still made me feel like a criminal for using it 4 times in my daughter’s entire life!!! I love breastfeeding and I feel very lucky that I can do it, but the Breast is Best movement needs to back off.

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  • LH Smith

    What about those mums who have IGT or had a double mastectomy and cannot breastfeed? This is extremely unfair and discriminatory toward them!

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