Ontario hospital removes dated anti-formula poster after women file complaint

Ontario hospital removes dated anti-formula poster after women file complaint
An Ontario hospital recently removed a dated anti-formula poster after local women lodged complaints with the region’s health department.

Mom Jessica Thyriar, 28, saw the poster at the hospital’s post-partum ward last week.

“Having delivered my baby there [in October 2018], this was very upsetting to see,” she said. “I understand that the message is trying to promote breastfeeding, but I believe this can be done without the shaming attached.”

Credit: Jessica Thyriar

The copy continued, “Babies don’t get to choose whether they are fed breast milk or formula. But you do. And since your choice can affect your child’s healthy development, you need need to get all the facts first. For example, did you know that recent studies show formula-fed babies have a higher risk of obesity? Is a child in your future? We can help you make an informed choice that’s right for you and your baby.”

“The posters in question were discontinued by public health over four years ago. That some of those posters still existed is regrettable and we will work to ensure any others that exist are removed.”

Fenwick said the region works with new parents and understands how challenging it can be for some parents to feed their newborns.

“We strive to support new parents in a sensitive, caring way. Support for infant feeding is offered through our telephone support line, clinics and home visits.”

Last Thursday, Thyriar saw the poster in question when she went to visit a friend at the Brampton, Ont. hospital.

“I breastfeed my son, and provide him one bottle of formula at night,” she explained. “In the beginning stages, having him latch on was very difficult. In the first three weeks, I struggled trying to exclusively breastfeed and sought help quite often.”

She said she often felt like a failure of a mother for not being able to breastfeed. “My amazing family doctor and pediatrician had encouraged me to do what I felt best and to take my mental health into consideration.”

“I stuck to breastfeeding but if it were not for those two strong individuals in my life that empowered me rather than shaming me, I don’t think I would be in the positive state that I am today.”

Although she is grateful the poster was removed, she found the message off-putting.

“Often some individuals are unable to breastfeed for a variety of reasons such as health, low milk supply, having to go back to work, and not being able to afford to stay home on leave,” she said. “There are multiple reasons why someone may choose to give their child formula, and I don’t think shaming someone, especially when you already feel so much guilt as a mother is the right way to go. I think fed is best.”
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