NYC's new hospital formula initiative: guaranteed to ruffle some feathers!

This week, my facebook feed blew up after the news came out that Mayor Bloomberg of NYC is encouraging tighter restriction of infant formula in hospitals through the voluntary Latch On NYC initiative. In a nutshell, hospitals choosing to adopt the initiative are required to keep formula locked away, just like drugs and other controlled hospital paraphernalia, and must be dispensed by a nurse by request. The majority of the hospitals have also decided to stop offering the freebie bags of formula that formula companies like to give away in hospitals.
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What do I think about this? I think it's mostly good. Actually, the more I research it, the more I approve, but there is still one thing bugging me: why is the government getting involved? My in-laws are small business owners in New York, so I hear tons about how NY legislates everything to death up there. It rubs me the wrong way that the mayor, who isn't even a health professional, is creating legislature for hospitals, which usually are not government institutions. Now, I actually think this legislation that the hospitals are adopting is a good thing, but I'd feel much more agreeable about it if this was entirely a thing started by the AMA or the hospitals themselves. I think the last thing we need is government sticking their fingers into yet another private sector aspect.

"All right; now we've just got to figure out how we can tax this."
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But in spite of those misgivings, there are aspects of this initiative that make me absolutely giddy. No more free advertising for formula companies! There is very little you can do to convince me that formula companies aren't rotten to the core. From unethically promoting formula feeding in third world countries, causing many preventable infant deaths and health issues, to deliberately giving breastfeeding moms bad lactation advice, they are all about lining their pockets at the expense of normal breastfeeding relationships. And of course, one way they do this is get hospitals do distribute gift bags of formula to new moms.

Secondly, I feel that adopting these new procedures is way more in line the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do no harm." Now, I'm probably setting myself up for some major flaming here, but science has proven over and over that artificial feeding comes with health risks. Greater chances of mom and baby having cancer at some point, and a greater likelihood of baby being diabetic, obese, and having lower immunity and lower IQ. This is a public health issue, and if the medical community is truly concerned about having a healthier population, then it absolutely makes sense for them to help our culture shift back to breastfeeding as the biological norm.

Although I suppose things could be a lot worse...
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My final thoughts: I'm not sure why this pretty innocuous initiative is getting so many people mad. It's not like they're getting rid of formula altogether; it is freely available to moms who ask for it. I had to ask for pumping supplies; I had to ask for extra bottles to put the milk in; and I didn't feel sabotaged in my choice to breastfeed because I had to ask for those items. For all the pro-formula folks crying foul, saying, "The hospitals are trying to sabotage our choice!", please look at it from the other side. For decades, breastfeeding moms have had to fight the hospital systems to honor their choice to breastfeed. I encountered this problem myself with my first son. This initiative is designed to protect EVERYONE'S choice. Formula-feeding moms can get their formula, and breastfeeding moms don't have to worry about nurses grabbing bottles willy-nilly and trying to feed their baby formula when they're not looking.

I don't see this initiative as way of strong-arming a woman to breastfeed, because I would certainly hope that moms are educating themselves and choosing how to feed long before they enter the hospital. It's more to protect those choices, especially for breastfeeding moms. But hey, if more moms decide to breastfeed because of the new policies, then hooray! I heartily approve. :-)

Do you think this new policy is over-the-top? What would you do differently?

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