younger daughter turns 1 at the end of this month. She’ll be celebrating her
first bite of chocolate, and I’ll celebrate the fact that not a drop of formula
will have ever passed her lips.
wish I could say the same about my older daughter, who is almost 4, but I was a
breast-feeding failure with her. When I was pregnant, I took a class that
detailed all the ways to hold your baby while nursing, but never once was it
mentioned or even suggested that breast-feeding can be difficult and not nearly
as natural as many women believe. And boy, was it ever difficult and unnatural
for me. After a few weeks of trying (and plenty of tears—mine and the baby's), I stopped.
attribute my success this time around to going into the experience knowing full
well that it would probably be tough to get the hang of breast-feeding—for
both me and my baby. I stuck it out this time because I wasn’t surprised or
upset or frustrated with the challenges; I was educated, calm, prepared and
determined. The difference was all in the approach.
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg might want to take a few notes about his
Sept. 3, New York City hospitals will become the most restrictive in the
country in terms of how they limit access to baby formula thanks to a new
initiative, from NYC's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Mayor Bloomberg—called Latch On NYC. As part of the new program, gift bags from
formula companies will be prohibited, formula will be hidden in locked boxes in
out-of-the-way places (as is done with morphine and other narcotics in hospital) and those who
opt to use it for their babies will be monitored and told about the superiority of breast milk.
Baby formula isn’t a painkiller that needs to be hidden from view.
is no question that breast is best, and the World Health Organization recommends
babies are exclusively breast-fed for the first six months of life. But what’s
best isn’t always an option for all women.
new moms cannot breast-feed because their babies never properly latch on. Some
have inadequate milk supplies or painful issues with their nipples. Some women
go back to work shortly after giving birth and can’t pump enough in the office
to be the sole supplier of their baby's nourishment for an extended period of
time. And some women simply have no inclination to breast-feed.
formula isn’t some painkiller that needs to be hidden from view, lest an addict
snatches it and launches into a downward health spiral. Banning formula companies' swag
bags from the maternity ward isn’t like denying a heroin
addict her fix. And giving new moms several unrestricted options isn’t
hindering the care of babies, it’s allowing women to act like adults—and
parents—who make their own decisions based on what’s best for their families.
What if Mayor Bloomberg conceded that, in the end, it’s really none of his business if a woman chooses not to breast-feed?
Instead of shaming new, tired and overwhelmed moms in the hospitals from having
unfettered access to formula, how about trying a different approach for a
happier and healthier result?
if Mayor Bloomberg, who recently proposed a ban on the sale of all sugary drinks over 16 ounces in NYC, focused his efforts on getting to moms-to-be before they
give birth? Most expectant women are in their doctor’s office several times
over a 36-week period. How about pairing up lactation consultants with obstetricians
to give women sufficient information about breast-feeding and its benefits and,
yes, challenges. This tactic certainly would have helped me my first time around.
if Mayor Bloomberg ensured that if a woman does decide formula is
what’s right for her and her baby, she is educated on the different
types of bottles and artificial nipples available and how much and how often
babies should be fed?
if Mayor Bloomberg conceded that, in the end, it’s really none of his business
if a woman just chooses not to breast-feed, that it’s not always the right
choice for every woman, and that’s really OK? While the benefits of
breast-feeding are well-known, there is a sense of shame—that can come with making a postpartum
woman jump through hoops to get a little baby formula—that seems to be a little less
known. At least to Mayor Bloomberg.