Earlier this week, I read a New York Post article about a new program (titled “Latch On USA), which will encourage NYC hospitals to “hide” formula from new moms, claiming doing so will encourage mothers to breastfeed their newborns. Apparently, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg thinks he knows what’s best for the mothers and children in his fine city.
Here’s what the NYP had to say:
Under Latch On NYC, new mothers who want formula won’t be denied it, but hospitals will keep infant formula in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications.
With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll also get a talking-to. Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.
To be clear, Mr. Bloomberg is not proposing to ban formula from NYC or even from its hospitals, but to even suggest that it needs to be locked away like morphine has me scratching my head. And the lecture? Wow.
Firstly, denying, or in this case “hiding,” a choice from a woman is, in my opinion, offensive. The Mayor should have faith that his female constituents can make the right decisions for their families. To put it bluntly, what a woman chooses to do with her breasts is her business – not the hospital’s and certainly not the government’s.
Secondly, the insinuation that formula is soooo bad that hospitals should ban it from a new mom’s vision pisses me off. You’d think the city would be fighting to put a warning label with a skull and cross bones on each can! Trust me, I know that breastfeeding, in most cases, is best. But sometimes what’s best for the baby is what’s best for the mother, and sometimes what’s best for the mother is to not breastfeed. This was the case for me, by the way. I hope to breastfeed my next baby, but if I can’t, I hope that my hospital is supportive and understanding and will spare me the lecture.
The fact is that infant formula is a healthy, nutritious alternative to breast milk, and not only do babies who are fed formula survive, but they also thrive. Owen has never had an ear infection in his life. He’s had a handful of colds and one sinus infection. He is consistently ahead of the game on most developmental milestones and has slept through the night since he was three months old. I say this not to brag about my child or to take credit for any of his achievements, but to simply point out that babies who are given formula develop just as well and can be just as healthy as those who are breast fed.
I am a huge supporter of, and advocate for, breastfeeding moms, but how a woman chooses to feed her child is a personal decision. I hope the women of NYC will make this clear to Mr. Bloomberg.
EDIT: The name of the program is Latch on NYC – not Latch on USA as written above.