Mayor Bloomberg’s Breastfeeding Initiative for NYC Hospitals

Thoughts (My 2 cents) on Breastfeeding Initiative in NYC (Aug. 22, 2012)

This subject has gotten a great deal of national, perhaps even international, attention over recent weeks – in the written media as well as radio and television and the widespread internet.  The blogosphere has had many blogs. While I doubt that I have anything original or unique to add to this heated and somewhat wild storm, I do feel that I want my “2 cents” added in. I want you out there to know how I see it!

This is a subject so close to my heart and the very core of my philosophy. My mission and direction since my earliest days as a mother, and becoming a La Leche League leader 3 years later, was and has continued to be focused on informing, educating, and supporting women who want to breastfeed.  Those objectives come from the best information and support available from women who breastfed before me. My intent has not ever been to convince a woman or to pressure anyone who chooses to bottle feed and give formula to her infant. I always believed that my plate was full focusing on those who want to!

Do I believe strongly that certain procedures from the earliest moments after the birth of a baby can make all the difference? I do indeed. So, how does this relate to the Initiative and the stand that Mayor Bloomberg has taken in New York City? It completely aligns with what I think the Initiative is all about. I might add that (and may contribute to my wholehearted support) I am a native of New York and I am very proud that this strong advocacy and support of breastfeeding is coming from the Big Apple.

The bottom line is that I support every effort being made to encourage and support moms who choose to breastfeed especially as they begin their journey as new moms. I cannot tell you how many women have told me that in the often less than 48 hours they were in the hospital they heard many conflicting opinions on what they needed to do.  They came home with a 2 day old newborn totally confused and insecure.

This is not only incredibly sad to me but strikes me as inexcusable. In 2012 we certainly have the knowledge and the resources to be 100% behind any woman who chooses to breastfeed.  Healthy babies in the first couple of days require very little other than their mothers warm arms and bodies and the ability to suckle at her breasts whenever he/she seems interested. Most newborns will sleep much of the first 24 hours and what mom has to offer is the most perfect sustenance.

Consequently to even think it necessary to offer a baby a bottle of anything is beyond me. What I understand is incorporated in the Initiative by locking up formula in the hospital is to force hospital personnel and parents to think at least twice before moving in that direction. Stopping to think about and to be totally informed, requiring a second opinion or the approval of a physician or lactation consultant, only insures that it will only be under “emergency” conditions. As I’ve heard said as relates to “locking formula in a cabinet” every hospital requires a specific order for even an aspirin! Why would we demand less for formula?

My hope is that more women and men come to understand the many nuances of this issue and find a way to truly support those who breastfeed.  I drafted this article last week and over the weekend I saw two articles that touched me and I find very articulate and powerful on this topic. I hope you will read them both:

–          **  Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism. “Women Who Don’t Breastfeed Shouldn’t Feel Guilty…”

–          ** Sara Newman, IBCLC, PCD(DONA) Posted on August 19, 2012 “My Letter to Cari about Bloomberg and Infant Formula”

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