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Hello BlogHer12, New York City, Most Breastfeeding-Friendly Capital of the US?

Posted Aug 01 2012 10:54pm
So I'm off to BlogHer12 in New York City and instead of networking on my mind, I can't stop thinking about breastfeeding. 

Blame it on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new breastfeeding initiative, Latch On NY .  Yes the breast and its milk has now moved beyond the personal to the political.  Congratulations to public health officials and politicians who simply cannot leave their political hands (or minds) off women's breasts. 

Oh yeah it's a nightmare from start to finish
Enforce the New York State hospital regulation to not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula unless medically indicated and documented on the infant’s medical chart

Limit access to infant formula by hospital staff

Discontinue the distribution of promotional or free infant formula

Prohibit the display and distribution of infant formula advertising or promotional materials in any hospital location

Additionally, the Health Department is launching a subway and hospital poster campaign highlighting the benefits of breast milk, such as reducing the risk of ear infections, diarrhea and pneumonia.
What's next, stopping and frisking women with visible bottles?

Fining women who can't produce their "medically-approved formula" papers?

Banning the sale of infant formula within a half-mile of a medical facility?

Banning the sale of infant formula on weekends.

Requiring prescriptions for adults to purchase infant formula.

Requiring women who choose not to breastfeed to watch a series of "informational" presentations on the benefits of breastfeeding?  And make them take a series of parenting courses that focus on the risks of formula.

And what happens to the medical staff and/or parents who provide formula in the absence of medical necessity?

Now some of this sounds absurd but as a mother with daughters that might one day be subjected to even more stringent political and legal recommendations it makes me nervous. If you're not yet nervous read about the formula lock down as decribed by The New York Post
Under Latch On NYC, new mothers who want formula won’t be denied it, but hospitals will keep infant formula in out-of-the-way secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to dispense and track medications. With each bottle a mother requests and receives, she’ll also get a talking-to. Staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead.
Excuse me but since when has infant formula become a controlled substance?

Excuse me but since when have my breasts or yours become the property of public health officials?

Excuse me but where are all the women (and men) who were so appalled by medically unnecessary vaginal probes? They sitting in the same crowd cheering this ridiculous campaign?  Where are the women who argue so ferciously for the right to decide what to do with their bodies (hand raised) but who don't seem to equate the stringent recommendation to breastfeed as a violation of their privacy.  Where are the researchers and scientists who don't think breastfeeding is all that? I know you're out there, why have you kept silent?

No surprise, this is enough to give the Fearless Formula Feeder nighmares too. She envisions scenarios involving other potential parenting decisions and behavior that usually don't receive the same level of scrutiny as how we first feed our children (i.e. breastfeeding or not).  Here she imagines the authorities deride a single mom for her risky behavior:
They tell me that my child will be taken into custody because she watches far more television than the AAP likes, and plus, children of single mothers are far more likely to end up on drugs or with severe psychiatric disorders. They know it will be painful for me to give her up, but it really is for the best. She'll be better off in a clean foster home with organic food and no screen time allowed. Maybe I should consider getting a puppy to fill the void.
Anyhow she's waiting for a revolt.  Yeah me too.  Who's ready?  

All is perhaps not lost though for those of us who have watched and watched as less than stellar empirical evidence has been used repeatedly to make women feel they must breastfeed or risk harming their child - here's possibly a small moment of optimism here in Jane E. Brody's latest column in the New York Times - The Ideal and the Real of Breast-Feeding .

Honestly, why can't anyone with expert credentials here in the United States ever critique the current APA recommendations? Let alone  discuss in detail the limitations of the scientific evidence.

I've been accused of being anti-breastfeeding but remember I breastfed all three of my children and in a hypothetical scenario where I give birth again I would do it again.  I am glad for people who choose to breastfeed and please, do it for three years if you want to but I beg you, do not feel obligated due to the purported significant health benefits. 

As for Mayor Bloomberg, you're a real boob. 

Maybe you should stop thinking about breasts and concentrate on more significant health issues, hey I know, mental health services for families.  I know, it's a lot less glamorous, not nearly as easy to do something about and you wouldn't be able to have such a warm and fuzzy poster with a cute baby on it.  So much harder putting a positive spin on all those families living on the edge with inadequate services and real health conditions.
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