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Hospital trust criticised over `artificial milk´ letter

Furious mothers have today blasted a hospital trust for penning a letter that referred to formula milk as ‘artificial’.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust wrote the note to inform new mothers about its decision to no longer supply formula milk.

Scores of outraged women flocked to Twitter, where the letter has been shared, to criticise the choice of language used by the trust.

They attacked its decision to call formula milk ‘artificial’ and warned mothers who are unable to breastfeed ‘need support and understanding’.

The language used was criticised (Philip Toscano/PA)

Bosses at the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust announced the controversial move will come into play at the start of May.

It will mean new mothers giving birth at the trust’s maternity unit will no longer be provided with formula milk for free.

Parents will have to purchase their own formula milk from supermarkets if they wish to ‘artificially feed’ their baby. 

Alis Roberts, from Stratford-upon-Avon, blasted the wording in the letter. She wrote on Twitter: ‘This made me feel sick to the stomach.

‘My baby couldn’t breastfeed – I know that formula is “artificial” but these things need to be more carefully worded when the whole baby feeding issue is so emotionally charged.

‘Can’t imagine how I’d felt if I’d read this in hospital.

Vicky Melville, from North Wales, claims that if she received the letter it ‘would have pushed me over the edge’.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘No matter how many HCA helped, cajoled, held, intervened, we just couldn’t get my son to latch.

‘I felt I’d failed him on his first hurdle and took a while to get over. I was devastated.’

Kathryn Booth, who posted the letter, said mothers ‘need support and understanding’.

‘It’s already an intense, overwhelming experience without feeling extra pressure,’ she added.

‘My daughter and I just couldn’t somehow manage it either, and after days of being manhandled and just feeling awful and barely any milk, I gave her a bottle and the immediate difference [was] amazing. But at every turn in hospital I felt ashamed.’

A spokesman for the trust replied to the comments on Twitter. They said: ‘We take the views of our mums and families very seriously, and will consider carefully all of the feedback on the wording of our information.’

The UK has one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in Europe.

Data from 2010 show that only 34 per cent of babies are receiving some breast milk at six months of age compared with 49 per cent in the US and 71 per cent in Norway.

Figures for England in 2015/16 show that while almost three-quarters of mothers started breastfeeding, this fell to 43 per cent when babies were between six and eight weeks old.

Social stigma is a major barrier to breastfeeding, according to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH).

It suggests mothers should be encouraged and supported to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months.