It probably goes without saying that I am an avid supporter of breast-feeding. But even I think that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new initiative to lock up baby formula and lecture new new mothers who ask to use it is going a bit too far.
Bloomberg launched the Latch On NYC
initiative a few months ago under the city's Health Department. According to its website, Latch On NYC is a citywide initiative to support mothers who choose to breast-feed and limit practices that interfere with that choice. Thus far, 27 of the city's 40 hospitals have agreed to participate and will no longer push swag bags filled with baby formula and other gear and gadgets stamped with formula logos onto mothers who have just given birth.
This is great news.
When my eldest was born almost 10 years ago, it was difficult to get support for breast-feeding as most of the hospital nurses were pushing formula bottles at me from the moment my daughter was born, encouraging me to take a rest while they fed my daughter a bottle. I know they meant well, but I was bound and determined to do this breast-feeding thing right, and so I turned down their well-intentioned offers and watched my daughter like a hawk to ensure my wishes were respected.
Fast forward 10 years and I'm thrilled that new mothers in NYC will get the support they need to breast-feed. But I'm a little concerned that this new initiative may take things too far, essentially making new mothers who choose to use baby formula feel guilty or inferior for their decisions.
I'm particularly concerned about the latest addendum to the Latch On NYC initiative which will require that participating hospitals keep tabs on the number of formula bottles stocked and used, keeping formula locked up with other medications, and "counseling" new mothers who ask to use it.
Thus far, simply removing formula ads and swag bags from newborn rooms appears to be doing the trick to encourage breast-feeding. According to the New York Post
, NYU's Langone Medical Center reports that breast-feeding rates there have climbed from 39 to 68 percent under the program. So I'm not sure why it was deemed necessary to take things one step further and badger new mothers who have made the decision to use formula. To me, that seems like it was taken one step too far.
It would be nice if the hospital staff could simply support all new mothers in the decisions they make without pushing any particular product or agenda. Is that too much to ask?
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