MOTHERS are in uproar after the county's hospital trust referred to mums who use formula milk as "artificially feeding" babies.

The NHS group behind Worcestershire Royal Hospital plans to stop providing free milk powder at the city's maternity clinic from Tuesday, May 1.

Siani Driver, head of Worcestershire Mums Network, thinks the move is designed to boost breastfeeding rates and make savings.

She said: "[The document] is terrible. It's the term 'artificially feed' and how it's quite sanctimoniously worded. A lot of mums find the term 'artificially feed' offensive.

"Artificial feeding sounds as if it's not as good. It's the way it's been put across that it's almost a punishment for not trying to breastfeed.

"I don't think they should be made to feel bottle fed is not as good - or a bad thing.

"It's causing more division between mums. It's disempowering.

"Nobody is arguing with the need to help improve breastfeeding rates, or the fact that we are being asked to provide our own formula - that’s not the issue - the issue is the wording of the poster which could be really upsetting for mums at a very vulnerable and emotional time of their lives.

"I'm a massive advocate of breastfeeding but I really respect anyone who chooses not to - or can't - breastfeed."

Mrs Driver added that there are a number of conditions - such as mastitis or ductal thrush - which might force mothers to bottle feed with formula.

She said: "It can all really hurt, I've had all of that. I know lots of mums struggle.

"I've had mums in tears about the fact that they can't breastfeed."

The document announcing the changes was posted on Worcestershire Antenatal Facebook page on Tuesday and has been shared over 600 times.

It stated that mothers who wish to 'artificially feed' their baby need to bring a formula starter pack to hospital.

Rachel Wright said: "It is the way the document was worded that people have an issue with. Regardless of whether mums breast or bottle feed. No feed is 'artificial' - it still does the same job and no new mum should ever be made to feel guilty."

Lauretta Smith added: "It's the wording that is the problem. Why all of a sudden is it being called artificial when it has always been called formula?

"It makes mums feel bad for using it. I don't think they have a problem taking their own. Some women can't breastfeed and some don't want to It doesn't suit everyone."

But Worcester resident Claire Bulman said on the Worcester News Facebook page: "I totally agree with the change, why shouldn't mum's pay for their own formula?

"It's expensive and a totally unnecessary strain on an already overstretched NHS. They have stated they will provide if it medically required - they will not let a baby starve."

Alison Hodges said: "I am neither for or against breastfeeding or formula feeding. What each parent chooses to do is their choice, but the NHS should not be expected to pay for it.

"You don't expect them to clothe your baby."

A spokesman for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust said: “This decision fully supports our commitment to promoting breastfeeding in line with Unicef Baby Friendly Initiative.

“We recognise that some new mums may not want to breastfeed and that some new babies may need to have their feeds supplemented, which we fully support.

“From May 1 the trust will no longer routinely be providing formula milk to new mothers who have made an informed choice not to breastfeed."