His new “Latch On NYC” initiative will see 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals lock up infant formula “behind locked doors” – and release it only after mothers prove that they can’t feed their newborn from the breast.
But while this is undoubtedly a well-intentioned initiative (aren’t they all?) it has understandably raised the ire of hundreds of New York’s mothers-to-be.
While breast milk has been proven time and again to be the best form of nutrition for infants and newborns, it’s not always a choice new moms have the luxury of making. Working mothers often don’t have the opportunity to nurse, while some mothers are unable to get their children to latch on no matter how much help they get from La Leche and other lactation specialists.
And while Bloomberg’s initiative won’t deny mothers access to formula, it will put them under scrutiny for doing so; going so far as to track each bottle dispensed, with mothers having to provide a documented medical reason for choosing bottle over breast.
This adds pressure to mothers already struggling to live up to increasingly unrealistic expectations of motherhood – and has also been accused of unfairly targeting demographics with a higher percentage of bottle-feeding moms, like African Americans.
Cherelyn Harley LeBon, from conservative African-American group Project 21, has this to say:
As a mother who breastfed her children for an extended period of time, I completely support breastfeeding our babies; however, that is entirely a mother's choice and one which should be made in cooperation with the baby's pediatrician and her own physician.
Mayor Bloomberg is now playing the role of pediatrician and neo-natal specialist. While it is great to encourage breastfeeding, the reality is that some women may not want to breastfeed their baby and is simply their choice. The government should not force them to do it.
So what do you think of Latch On NYC? Is it a positive measure, that will help increase the number of mothers who breastfeed their kids? Or is it further interference from an increasingly nanny-ish city government?