I tried nursing my older daughter. Really, I did. But after she refused to breastfeed for eight straight hours the day we first brought her home, my sister snapped me out of my self-pity party for failing to succeed at nursing and pleaded with me over the phone to make sure she ate something, so I begrudgingly gave her some of the formula that was in the gift bag I took home from the hospital. If New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had been around, my sweet, hungry little baby would have gone hungry even longer because it was late at night when we realized we needed that formula, and no stores in a 40-mile radius were open.
Starting Sept. 3, New York City hospitals will become the most restrictive in the country in terms of how un-freely they will dispense baby formula to new moms after giving birth, according to the New York Post.
City officials will keep track of the number of bottles that select hospitals have and use, and all but 13 of the city’s hospitals will also forgo so-called swag bags from formula companies and will document “a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives.”
The move has been branded Latch on NYC and while new moms won’t be denied formula outright, it will be stored in “out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications” and moms who ask for formula will be told why the breast is a better choice.
Which, of course, it is. But that doesn’t mean that it’s still always what every women can or wants to do.
Baby formula isn’t pain medication. It’s the only nourishment some babies will know in the first few months of life because babies can’t latch onto the breast, or their moms can’t or don’t want to breastfeed. While the World Health Organization recommends women breastfeed their babies for the first six months of life, and the benefits of nursing to both mom and baby are common knowledge to many moms, most babies who receive formula still do just fine, too. My older daughter is living, breathing, healthy-as-a-horse proof of that.
Surely it can’t be too hard for Mayor Bloomberg to understand that some babies simply cannot latch on, or their moms have issues with their milk supply or problems with their nipples.
But perhaps it is beyond his scope of understanding from high up on his throne of a billionaire’s life of extraordinary privilege that some moms can’t breastfeed because they have to go back to work and simply can’t pump while there to the extent that it will be their baby’s sole source of food.
And how about the women who simply don’t want to breastfeed? Is that really his business? Is this the same kind of issue as large portions of soda, which have also been banned by Mayor Bloomberg in New York City, or isn’t it really way more personal and invasive?
Isn’t this kind of like the anti-choice movement forcing women to undergo an ultrasound and hear all about their other options when they go in for an abortion? Like the women who are aware there is a fetus in their bellies and yet still choose to terminate the pregnancy, most women know the upside of breastfeeding, but that doesn’t make it any easier on their lifestyle, schedules, babies or nipples.
Will shaming new mothers into shunning baby formula by complicating the process of dispensing it really encourage breastfeeding, or will it simply make the process that much more traumatic, shameful and difficult for moms who want and need to nourish their babies in some other way?
Do you think the government needs to stay out of our bras?
Photo credit: iStock