I’m irked. It took me 2 days before I could post about this but Bloomberg has me steaming. First he passes a law banning over-sized sugar drinks in NYC. I understand what he’s trying to do, but come on…you can’t tell people what to drink. That’s not going to solve anything, including obesity. Like with marijuana, people will just try to get it elsewhere (imagine the stock piles of large cups about to be bootlegged all over NYC). So, that pissed me off but his new rant is far worse.
Starting in September, NYC is launching the “Latch On NYC” initiative which will require new mothers seeking baby formula in the hospital to sign the formula out like medication. Supposedly, it will encourage breastfeeding. Moms won’t be denied formula, but if they do refuse to breastfeed, they’ll get a mandated chat from staffers on why they should stick to the program. 27 out of the city’s 40 hospitals have agreed to participate and will stop giving out freebie bags of formula.
Me? I breast fed both my children. The nurses stuck them both on my breasts immediately after delivery and they both latched on easily. I didn’t complain, I was hopeful it would work. But had I told the nurses otherwise, they would have been fed formula. It was my choice. As all things should be. I didn’t love it at first, but I knew it would be easier so I went for it.
I have never had anything against formula. I know that breastfeeding is good for fighting obesity, keeping children immune from illnesses, creating a special bond between mother and child, but it’s not for everyone. Does Bloomberg not realize that not every woman can produce breast milk? That not every woman as nipples that latch? That not every woman wants to breastfeed? That not every woman thinks there is only one way of feeding a child?
With my first child, I went back to work and was determined to continue breastfeeding my daughter. I shlepped that pump to and from work daily and had to shut the door to my office to keep people out. It’s a convenient and practical method of feeding children but imagine my discomfort from not feeding for half the day, or the embarrassment when my boobs leaked during a meeting in the boardroom. Eventually, I succumbed to formula and realized that it was actually pretty nice to give my husband a chance to bond with the baby by giving her a bottle and I quite liked to go back and forth between the two until she was a year old. When my second child was born, I actually requested a formula feed in the middle of the night at the hospital so I could sleep while I had the chance. It was nice to have a choice of how I fed my children.
When my daughter bit my nipples with her newly grown teeth, it hurt. But I persisted. I called a lactation consultant and worked it out because I wasn’t ready to give it up. But I had several friends who were tortured by the myth that breast feeding is the only way to feed a child. Imagine if they had been told in the hospital about the initiative and were treated like damage goods when it didn’t work. I have a relation who knew before her three children were born that there was no way she would ever breastfeed. Who is the State of NY to make her feel guilty about it? It’s going to put the hospital staff in a difficult situation and it’s going to make any woman feel bad about something they never wanted in the first place.
Furthermore, Bloomberg is a man. He has no idea about the choices we have to make as women. I have friends who breastfeed their children and are never allowed out of sight. If women are going to make their children a part of their rich, full-filling lives and be able to parent, work and live a the same time, it is up to them about what kind of feeding will work to fit their life style. He has no idea what it’s like to give up your breasts to a child for an indefinite period of time, to change your diet to facilitate healthy milk and to be on call morning and night. I remember hour-long feedings to satiate my daughter’s ravenous appetite.
I remember gazing at my children during a feed and feeling that bond generated from the experience, but to be honest, I think that formula-fed children experience the same bond with their children. I kept doing it because we traveled a lot and eventually, I was home and hadmore time to focus on it.
I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, it worked for me, but no one should ever tell me how to feed my child. I’m not having a child anytime soon, but if I were, I’d be furious.