A hospital has stopped offering free formula milk in a bid to encourage new mothers to breastfeed instead.
Saint Mary’s hospital, which has the largest maternity ward in Greater Manchester, will introduce the policy on November 1st.
Powdered formula milk will also be banned from all wards for health and safety reasons.
Leaflets explaining the new rules are being handed out to pregnant women in clinics ahead of the new policies. They state that: “Breast milk is the healthiest milk to feed your baby. Breastfeeding also benefits mothers by reducing the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis.”
Hospital chiefs deny that the move has been implemented to cut costs, saying that they were still in favour of giving mothers an informed choice about how to feed their children.
A spokesman for Saint Mary’s said that “[we] are still providing formula for all babies and mothers whose medical needs mean that breast feeding is not appropriate. We are continuing to provide bottles and teats, and we give daily demonstrations about the safe preparation and use of formula to support new mums.”
Similar policies on formula milk have already been introduced in Bolton, Tameside and Salford.
Wythenshawe and Pennine Acute, which runs hospitals in Bury, Oldham, Rochdale and North Manchester, said they had no plans to scrap free milk.
Helen Thompson, the head of midwifery at Wythenshawe, said that although the company supports the initiation of breastfeeding with all new babies, they recognise that some mums prefer to bottle feed their babies, and believe that is their maternal choice.