By: Lauren Saccone
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn’t content with controlling just the eating habits of adults. After taking on big-gulp soda and giant buckets of popcorn in an effort to improve the health of New Yorkers, Mayor Bloomberg is now setting his sights on the food of newborn babies.
Bloomberg, with the support of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, is working on a plan to encourage new mothers to breast-feed. But instead of an aggressive ad campaign, the Mayor's efforts are focused on the hospitals themselves. City hospitals are being encouraged to lock down any and all infant formula, and promote breastfeeding as the primary option for new mothers.
Formula will be treated like any other controlled substance in the hospital, with nurses forced to sign it out and document why it is being used. All formula will be locked away from the public, and protected with the same measures used for powerful medications. Additionally, 27 of the 40 hospitals in New York City have agreed to stop handing out gift bags to new mothers. These gift bags were usually branded with the logos of major formula companies.
“Human breast milk is best for babies and mothers," explained health commissioner Thomas Farley to reporters. “With this initiative, the New York City health community is joining together to support mothers who choose to breastfeed.”
Called the "Latch On NYC" initiative, this plan to make breastfeeding the only viable option for new mothers is being as well received as most of Mayor Bloomberg’s other dietary restrictions. While formula is not banned, the regulations attached to the product make acquiring it doubly difficult.
“If they put pressure on me, I would get annoyed,” said a Staten Island mother of two. “It’s for me to choose.”
Breast-feeding has been shown to have enormous health benefits to newborn babies. Babies who are breast-fed have a lower instance of obesity and a reduced risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast-fed babies also have a lower chance of developing diabetes, ear infections, or respiratory problems. However, breast-milk does not provide infants with vitamin D, a nutrient that formula is regularly fortified with.
Nobody seems to have a problem with New York City promoting breast-feeding or educating new mothers on its benefits. The issue arises when the city attempts to dictate the personal choices of people, and how they wish to raise their children. After Bloomberg’s efforts to dictate the eating habits of adults, imposing his personal opinions on newborns is rubbing people the wrong way.
“They make formula for a reason, and the FDA makes sure it’s safe,” said another new mother to The Daily Post. “Locking it up is just wrong.”
Some people can’t breast-feed for health reasons. Others who work can’t factor in the time. Regardless of the reasons behind it, a new mother should not find official bureaucracy imposing on what is ultimately a very personal decision. Pregnant women and new mothers should absolutely be educated on the advantages and disadvantages of breast-milk versus formula. But when they make their decision, it should be respected – not hindered – whatever that decision may be.
[Pic via Flickr - Aaron Fulkerson]