Back Off Of The Mamas, Mayor Bloomberg!Katherine Stone
Just one month ago at the US Conference of Mayors, Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement in support of Planned Parenthood, “When it comes to reproductive health decisions, nobody knows better than an individual woman what is best for herself and her family.”
Nobody knows better, he said. Remember that.
The New York Post reported this week that Bloomberg’s department of health has kicked off a new pro-breastfeeding program called Latch on NYC, which requires that local hospitals stop handing out formula bags and freebies. This is nothing new, as maternity wards around the country have been steadily reducing the amount of formula marketing allowed to new mothers in order to increase the percentage of women who breastfeed. What is new is that Latch on NYC requires each hospital’s formula to be kept behind lock and key, that it’s use must be documented, and that every time a mother asks for and gets a bottle, “Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.” Every time.
How is this supportive of women’s right to choose? Do we know what’s best for ourselves, or don’t we? It seems Mr. Bloomberg is nowhere near as pro-choice as he’d have us believe.
I’m all for promoting breastfeeding. I do think breast is best, and I don’t think all the formula marketing is necessary, or even healthy. At the same time, I’m completely against browbeating women into breastfeeding. Because of my severe postpartum anxiety and the medication I took to control it, I firmly and comfortably made a decision to bottle feed. It was my choice, and I’m perfectly happy I made it. And while I’m fine if no one hands out formula company tchotchkes or pushes free formula packs on mamas, I’m not at all fine with a nurse having to, per the New York Post, “… document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives,” and continually remind the mother why she could be making a better decision. I can only imagine about the third time I heard that speech I would have barred the nurse from my room permanently.
What about women who take medications that are contraindicated for breastfeeding? What about women who, for whatever reason, are unable to breastfeed? Or whose infants cannot breastfeed? Is it really necessary to give them a stiff talking-to each and every time they feed their infant with formula while in the hospital? Of course it isn’t. I know the kind of guilt and anguish this has the potential to create, and I don’t support it one bit.
I say stuff it, Mayor Bloomberg.
What do you think?
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