Bloomberg breastfeeding plan: This mom wants choice, not nanny
Breastfeeding, whether a mother chooses to do it or not, is the focus of the "Latch On NYC" campaign, a new way Mayor Michael Bloomberg flexes the long arm of the nanny state. Why won't he butt out of a mother's personal choice?
Even as a woman who breastfed four babies, I think New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's well-intentioned but hotly contested breastfeeding initiative is going to be a bust for taking the so-called "nanny" state to a place where most moms just wish he'd butt out.Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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When I had the first of four sons, 18 years ago, after 24-hours of natural childbirth in a New Jersey hospital, my baby and my body did not click. I could not get that kid to latch on even with a La Leche League coach. And when he did I could not fill the order on demand. The child had lungs like an opera singer and could be heard a mile away. Finally, another nurse bustled in and barked, "You just have the wrong kind of nipples. Here's a bottle."
No, there's no such thing as having the wrong kind – that was absurd – but perhaps this is the kind of misinformation that New York public officials are trying to correct. I did eventually breastfeed the baby, as well as the other three, so I'm the most militant of breastfeeding supporters. But it's no moment of celebration for me seeing the roles reversed and women who can't or simply choose not to do what I did feeling like they're being butted by the Bloomberg nanny state.
I want moms to know the wonderful feeling of nursing and the healthy outcomes believed to result from it, but it can be hard to do and it may not be a choice that working moms can make. Although, breastfeeding is cost-effective and great for pulling your body back into shape.
The "Latch On NYC" initiative, which begins in September, will ask mothers of newborns in 27 of 40 hospitals that deliver babies to listen to talks about the virtues of breastfeeding their babies on the "breast is best" principle. The initiative does allow mothers to request of formula if a baby won't or can't latch on – or if she just wants it. So far I think we're inbounds. Hospitals are so in the lecture groove that anyone who has ever been in one is not too thrown by that.
The mayor is trying to get his state out of the bottom of the list of those who breastfeed and off the top of the list of those where hospitals give away formula to new moms.
New York state ranks next to last by the percentage of breast-fed infants who receive supplemental formulas in hospital, at 33 percent, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley told the Associated Press.