Don’t Tell Me Breast Milk is Best for My Baby, NYC

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.


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  1. Nipple Grissle says:

    Lactation consultant is just another word for Breast Feeding Nazi’s! Those flatulent cunts tried their hardest to make my wife feel that not breastfeeding was some sort hanging offense. Our children just were not inclined to ‘latch on’ and so my wife being a surgeon told those Nazi’s to move on and browbeat someone else.

    If it had been up to me I would have just taken an axe to the lactation consultant’s face when she continued to rant like she was an actual medical professional.

    BTW: Our children 12 and 15 at this point are happy well adjusted and with no allergies. More than I can say about most kids these days all hopped up on ADHD drugs and allergic to everything from animals to gluten.

  2. Hello
    I agree with Mayor Bloomberg but maybe his people should have explained his statement a little better! Or the media should not have hopped on it so much. Everybody knows that breastfeeding is controversial, even Whoopi Goldberg knows! Say something about it and you will get attention from women everywhere!
    So Mayor Bloomberg was telling hospitals (Staff and Management) to stop promoting formulae. He wasn’t telling Holly or her Aunt Mary to breastfeed, he was telling hospitals to stop blatant promotion of formulae companies. There is no other product that is promoted and marketed so unethically. Afterall who makes money out of promoting her own breastmilk!!
    A little background over 20 years the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF recognised that the practices around birth and early life have a major impact on establishing breastfeeding and thus improving child health and survival. Protection of and promotion of breastfeeding is needed for healthy growth and development for young children. Theses organisations implemented ten very simple steps called the baby friendly hospital initiative (BFHI). Since 1991 22,000 hospitals in 157 countries have been designated baby friendly. Also in existance is an international Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. One of the Baby friendly initiatives aim is to eliminate marketing barriers to breastfeeding.
    Furthermore in the United States (January 2011) The US Surgeon General Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding was a milestone and drew attention to the importance of removing barriers that prevent women from reaching their breastfeeding goals. Mayor Bloomberg is just following on these PUBLIC HEALTH practices and calling upon hospitals to put breastfeeding first, then substitutes second.
    As we all know obesity rates is only going upwards in children. Setting Hospital practices now to promote PUBLIC HEALTH is positive. We don’t want to look back in 50 years and say why didn’t they do something about that. 10 little steps!! if women choose to feed their babies formulae hospitals should definitely not be promoting particular brands! Guess who sponsors staff conferences and donates formulae to NICU and Maternity wards. Having to ask for formulae may impact a little on the individual (maybe they could bring in their own brand which they researched themselves?) Isn’t PUBLIC HEALTH the goal? It is certainly Mayor Bloomberg’s goal!
    Rosie Murtagh
    International Board Certified Lactation Consultant IBCLC
    source Journal of Human Lactation Vol. 28, No. 3, August 2012 pg. 273

  3. Maybe there are a lot of mothers who aren’t educated about breastfeeding, but I find it hard to believe that’s true in a city like New York. Everywhere I turn, people are pushing “breast is best,” as though women who formula feed are baby killers.

    I think, if Bloomberg were interested only in informing women, he would do just that and not require women to check out formula as though it were medication. What next? Ask them to smuggle it out in a brown paper bag? Hospitals should just give women the information they need and let them make their own decisions instead of trying to sway the decision one way or the other. Breast is not best for every woman or every baby.

    • I agree. It worked for me but it’s not for everyone. A friend who’s a nurse gave me a very different opinion today and I’m hoping she’ll voice her opinion here as it helped me put what he’s doing in perspective but I feel the way I do.

  4. i am against the formula companies pushing their formula on new moms. i breast fed my daughter till she was 3 and i’m not against formula as a choice…just don’t push it on people. i think a lot of people are missing the point about latch on nyc. there a lot of mothers out there who are not educated on the benefits of breast feeding and i think it’s important. formula companies take advantage of this and it’s just offensive. it is still a choice… just not allowing the formula companies free advertising.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Yvonne, and sharing your opinion.

    • I think this is a good point. But then, it would seem that the most effective initiative to encourage more breastfeeding would be to provide breastfeeding education and support *before* anyone is even close to going into labor. That’s when the choice is made, isn’t it? That’s how I (and Holly presumably) learned to tell the nurses “no thanks…I’ll be nursing exclusively if I can.”

      I’d imagine that those of us who already decided to breastfeed tossed those samples–or did what I did, which was to put them into the back of the closet “just in case” so I’d have one less what-if, in those scary first days of new mamahood.

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