First it was Rhode Island. Then Massachusetts jumped on the band wagon. No more free formula gift bags for new moms. Okay. I’m fine with that. It’s actually a nice change of pace from the traditional “let’s push formula on these unsuspecting mommies” stance we’ve endured for years in hospitals across the country. But I must admit, I’m a bit disturbed by the trend for government to get involved in this matter, particularly in the case in New York City.
Have you heard about the "Latch On NYC" campaign? Launched by NYC Health Commissioner Thomas Farley this past May, the citywide initiative is intended to support moms who breastfeed their infants. Now, before I go on, please do not misinterpret my stand on this. I do agree that breast milk is best -- whether served up right from the breast or out of a bottle. No formula can match the health benefits. Period.
My beef is with the higher ups in NYC, who believe government should get involved. Perhaps I wouldn't have a problem with this if I could trust the government to actually care about my health or the health of my children and grandchildren. But because of the government's continual allegiance with Monsanto, I simply can't. Every single day, we are being poisoned by GMOs and the government won't even agree to label them so consumers can made educated choices. If you want to get me riled up, ask me how I feel about Monsanto...
Sorry for the digression. Let's get back to the anti-formula campaign in NYC. Mayor Bloomberg, dubbed the city's "nanny" due to his campaign's to make New Yorker's healthier, has gotten in on the action. On the surface, this looks like a good initiative. By not making formula readily available to new moms, more of an effort will be made to not only give breastfeeding a try, but also to stick with it. Too often, at the first sign of trouble, a nurse will offer to supplement with formula, or will suggest switching altogether. Often, this has to do with personal experiences/preferences. But the results end up being too many formula-fed infants whose mothers were offered an easy solution when they were feeling most vulnerable.
Of course, I believe this is wrong. Breastfeeding mamas should get the most support possible by hospital staff. By locking up the formula (yes, that is what they're doing), switching over is not quite so easy. Or, at least, it won't be starting September 3, 2012. That's when the "Latch On NYC" initiative begins. Mothers of newborns will be asked to listen to talks about why breast milk is more beneficial to their child than formula. Okay, I have no problem with that. I'll even agree with Mayor Bloomberg's statement, "The immunities that a mother has built up get passed on to the child, so the child is healthier."
But starting in September, 27 of the 40 hospitals in the city which have maternity wards, will no longer give away promotional formula. Hey, wait, I'm actually okay with that as well. So why is this not sitting well with me?
I guess it's just this government-getting-too-involved-in-our-lives thing. And it's a fine line. Those of you who know me, know that I am 100% opposed to abortion. While many cry for "women's rights," I stand up for the unborn women's and men's rights. I also stand up for the father's rights when we're talking unborn children. But again, I digress, so let's get back to today's hot topic.
I must admit, I initially misunderstood the campaign in its entirety, assuming it was a mandate. It is not. Hospitals across the city can voluntarily participate. Here's what they have agreed to:
- Enforce the NYS hospital regulation to not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula feeding unless medically indicated and documented on the infant's medical chart
- Restrict access to infant formula by hospital staff, tracking infant formula distribution and sharing data on formula distribution with the Health Department
- Discontinue the distribution of promotional or free infant formula
- Prohibit the display and distribution of infant formula promotional materials in any hospital location
For me, it also sounds like an awful lot more work for the already overworked and understaffed nursing staff, don't you think? After all, they will have to document every time a baby is fed formula, as if it was a prescribed medication. Oh yeah, they don't have anything better to do when caring for those precious little newborns and their mommies.
I am confident that some of you are disagreeing with me 100%. And for good reason. Breastfeeding is best. And I'm clearly not arguing that point. I just wish there were better initiatives offered by hospitals, before government officials got involved. Not offering the promotional marketing materials by Similac, et al, not handing out free formula, not having staff offering to supplement-feed the infants, etc. would be common sense choices here. And you know I'm all about common sense. Locking up the formula seems a bit extreme to me. After all, it's not a controlled substance, but Mayor Bloomberg is turning it into one!
My other fear in all of this, is that moms who don't choose to or simply can't breastfeed will be made to feel like failures before they even take their babies home. New moms are facing a whole new world, and it can be scary. I hate to think that a nurse or nurse's aide will somehow add to their apprehension by reacting badly to their need for formula.
Should breastfeeding be encouraged? Absolutely! Should a mom be bullied into it? Let's not even go there.
Simply sharing my opinion on this Hot Topic Tuesday,
For more info on why breastfeeding is so important
for both baby and mama, please check out my post
from last year's World Breastfeeding Week.