Disclaimer: Before I talk about Latch On NYC–a New York City initiative to promote and support breastfeeding–let me just first say that I have taken great pains not to be a judgmental uberboober. That goes for in this blog and also with my friends and family. Even though I have chosen extended breastfeeding for my kids, I realize it is not for everyone. There are many, many reasons to give your kids formula. These reasons may be medical or personal. We all have to make the choices that work for us and our families.
That said, my interest was piqued when my Facebook feed lit up with outrage over Bloomberg’s new Latch On NYC initiative. People said formula would be kept under lock and key, that you’d have to sign out formula like medication. They said that nurses would lecture new moms about breastfeeding and make them feel bad. Formula feeders were mad. Breastfeeders were mad, too. Everyone thought the plan was ill-conceived, patronizing, and mean. They got this information from the Post, Huff Po, and even the New York Times (which has since pulled back a little.)
Well, the City now says much of this is misinformation. I’m unclear if the confusion was generated via media sensationalism, misguided hospital administrators, poor communication on the part of the City, or a combination thereof. In any case, the City now has link up to clarify its position. Click here to read Latch On NYC Initiative–Myths and Facts.
Apparently the plan is to support breastfeeding and hinder the active promotion of formula feeding– not to make people feel bad, make nurses’ jobs harder, or treat formula like a controlled substance. A lot of those rumors (the lock and key, the “lecture” for each bottle of formula) are not true. They do want to get rid of those “swag bags” filled with formula, which is just fine by me. Here’s their press release. It’s difficult to tell how their plans will be carried out at each participating hospital, but, at first blush, the initiative appears to be sensible, evidenced-based policy…not some bizarre plan hatched by a draconian lactivist overlord. Hopefully the collective concern generated in the last couple of weeks will help to ensure that the program is implemented in ways that are both sensible and sensative.