Mayor Bloomberg obviously isn’t having enough fun this summer determining how much soda pop adults can drink in one serving at New York restaurants. It appears that trying to control soft drinks for children at school isn’t enough either. Nanny Bloomberg feels the need to control what newborn babies are drinking, too.
Imagine Julia, web designer extraordinaire and President Obama’s pet project, giving birth at age 31 after years of free contraception. The labor and delivery nurse hands the first-time mother her screaming newborn, ready to feed. Julia requests a bottle of Similac, knowing she will be returning to work in several weeks, and might even need to travel for web design conferences. Instead of Similac, Julia receives a lecture.
If there is one thing I confidently claim to have more personal experience in than Mayor Bloomberg, it would be breast-feeding children. In fact, I would dare to say that no newborn has ever suckled from the teat of New York’s mayor. That, however, is not stopping the mayor from attempting to force all of his constituents to suckle from the teat of big government.
The mayor’s new initiative, aptly called Latch On, New York, is asking hospital neonatal nurseries to keep baby formula under lock and key with other medications. New mothers will be “encouraged” to breast feed, and if they still insist on feeding their newborns a bottle of manufactured formula (GASP!), they will receive a lecture about the benefits of breast milk over infant formulas. Every time they request formula. Well, at least they won’t be arrested. Yet.
Once again, Bloomberg’s liberal agenda is controlling the private and personal decisions of individuals. Bloomberg is defining what he believes is “best” and encouraging, if not requiring, this “best” for everyone. There is no acknowledgement of individuality, of personal choice, of the simple truth of human nature that what is best for some is not necessarily best for all.
I don’t know what is more offensive here: the mayor’s ignorance or his arrogance. Only an arrogant, unaffected, aloof politician would ever lump all newborns and all mothers into one category and determine what is “best.” And only an ignorant, misinformed politico would ever decide that that particular “best” for all is breast milk for all newborns every time they feed.
There are myriad reasons why a woman might choose to bottle feed her newborn formula, some out of convenience but many out of necessity. Not every woman is physically capable of producing enough quality milk to sustain her child. Not all women feel well enough after childbirth to breast feed as often as some newborns demand. There are women suffering from medical conditions requiring medications that not only prevent them from breastfeeding, but their drug-laced milk would in fact harm their own newborns should they be required to nurse.
Medically fragile or premature neonates often require long-term hospitalization even after their mothers are discharged and sent home. NICU nurses are required to continue feeding such babies even when their mothers are not in the immediate geographic vicinity. And there are children who, for various medical and physical reasons, cannot digest breast milk or cannot grow sufficiently from breast milk alone.
It is extremely difficult to train a baby to drink formula from a bottle once the child is used to being nursed. As breast milk and formula are often not the same consistency, many specialist recommend mothers whose previous children required formula supplementation to be sure their newborns learn to drink from a bottle, so as to forestall any future resistance to such nourishment should breast milk prove to be insufficient once again.
Mayor Bloomberg feels that birthing mothers need to be educated, but the reality is that Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t seem to know that, even in 2012, it is still a technological impossibility to breast feed remotely. And many women need to return to work or school soon after childbirth. The sooner these newborns are exposed to bottled nutrition, the easier the transition will be from mom to daycare provider.
Working mothers have enough emotional strain to deal with when separating from their babies; the last thing they need is to be tormented about feeding their babies formula from a bottle – something most of us managed to survive just fine.
But there is more to the story: the perpetual myth that the liberal nanny state has the best interests of women at heart, that only they will protect women from the anti-feminist conservatives. But once again the truth is obvious: conservatives respect the rights of individual women to make their own choices about their health, their employment, and their parenting. It is the very liberals who claim to be protecting the welfare of women who are actually dictating and demanding exactly in which ways women need to rely on government regulations to know what is best for themselves and their families.
The term “nanny state” has never been more applicable.
American women have been given the short end of the stick in terms of their parental leave and it is time for some politicians to stand up to this issue, which WILL improve the lives of women and children. The politicians who will stand up to this issue are not the one’s this author is voting for though. Formula is not the answer to a massive social problem, changing laws to be more child focused is… but how do the Republicans make money off of that???
When I gave birth to our daughter, I had some health issues, and so did she. I tried to breast feed her, but due to the health concerns was unable to do so adequately enough for her nutrition. As wonderful as the hospital was in the care they gave us, I was pushed relentlessly to keep trying to breastfeed, and was made to feel very guilty that I was unable to do so, even though the reasons were beyond my control. I left the hospital feeling like I was really starting out on a terrible footing as a mother, simply because I couldn’t adequately nurture my baby in this way. I even tried pumping the breast milk, hoping that would help, and it still wasn’t enough. Am I a bad mother because I was unable to give my child what she needed? Should she have been left simply to die from malnutrition? I’m thinking some of the women I’ve seen commenting would have preferred that option, sick as that sounds. Thank GOD for great companies who have developed great formula for mothers who make the choice not to breastfeed—whatever their reason may be.
You have some good suggestions, but not a single one of those is part of the mayor’s plans! I did not say that women can’t be educated or encouraged, and I personally breastfed FOUR sons, for very long periods of time! I am very much pro-breastfeeding. But I resent any government official who thinks he needs to make laws and changes to “force” an outcome on any group of people.
If the mayor had simply said that the government would fund lactation specialists at all city hospitals, or help individuals pay for lactation nurse visits to their homes, etc., I don’t thing that would be an issue at all. Government many times has a good idea, but when they attempt to enforce their ideas by limiting choices of women while claiming to have our best interest in mind, I find that degrading and disrespectful.
For the record, my personal experience has not been as you describe. I have had many, many visits with lactation specialists in hospitals, I had breast pumps paid for by insurance when a child was hospitalized, I had follow-up phone calls from lactation groups, etc., with all of my children – in hospitals in four different states! I do not feel at all that there is a shortage of lactation help for women who choose to breastfeed. I just don’t see the problem with a woman choosing to use formula instead.
BTW – my breastfed children were also low in iron and vitamin D, etc., BECAUSE they were breastfed too long. It is not always so easy to wean to formula when the baby is only used to breast.
But again, the discussion is simply if the government should have the right to force its ideas, or make a normal choice such as bottle feeding more difficult for a mother who chooses to do so.
In MOST cases, breastmilk is healthier for most babies and breastfeeding is healthier for most women. Studies show that babies do better on breastmilk – they stay healthier (fewer ear infections), women stay in the workforce (because babies are healthier so less need for sick time), breastfeeding decreases the risk of certain cancers in women, helps the uterus to contract back to it’s original size, etc.
Formula isn’t being withheld from women and babies who TRULY NEED IT! It’s being offered as it should be with any drug or supplement – with appropriate precautions, and given out only when necessary. This law isn’t suggesting that women not be given the choice to breastfeed or formula feed, but rather than women be given the appropriate information before making that choice. You are given waivers to sign before giving vaccinations, before getting an epidural, a c-section. Why not before choosing to circumvent the healthiest, safest, and most natural method of infant feeding?
In the event that a woman wants or needs to supplement with formula, formula is available. In the hospital. In nearly every store on every corner. There’s no shortage of formula. What there IS is a shortage of support for women who want to breastfeed, a shortage of trained lactation consultants ON STAFF 24/7 in hospitals, a shortage of SUPPORT FOR WORKING WOMEN WHO WANT TO RETURN TO WORK AND PUMP (you erroneously mention a couple of times that returning to work is a reason not to breastfeed), a shortage of good information available on the true benefits of breastmilk and the real risks of formula both to mother’s and baby’s health.
NO ONE is telling a women she can’t make a choice. But most of the time, women aren’t given a true chance to make a REAL, INFORMED choice.