(Have you seen this cute meme yet? I didn’t create it, but I have adopted it for the week)
Yesterday (July 30,) news broke that NYC mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has decided to ban formula from hospitals. This, of course, led to cheers and jeers, especially in light of the recent “Big Glup-gate,” but before we jump to any conclusions, why don’t we take a look at what the NYC mayor is really doing (and it’s really not that bad.)
“Latch On: NYC” is a citywide initiative to better support mothers who choose to breastfeed. It proposes doing so by:
- Enforcing the New York State hospital regulation to not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula unless medically indicated and documented on the infant’s
- Limiting access to infant formula by hospital staff
- Discontinuing the distribution of promotional or free
- Prohibiting the display and distribution of infant formula advertising or promotional materials in any hospital location
If you are familiar with the WHO-code and/or efforts to make hospitals “breastfeeding-friendly” these guidelines should be of no surprise. Breastfeeding advocates and experts for years have remarked on the correlation between aggressive formula-marketing and decreased breastfeeding rates, despite the formula cans stating “breastfeeding is best.”
For example, in 2006, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report in which they found that:
- the U.S. would save a minimum of $3.6 billion in health care costs and indirect costs, such as parents’ lost wages, if breastfeeding increased to meet these Healthy People* goals.
- Breastfeeding rates are particularly low among infants who participate in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).
- WIC and non-WIC breastfeeding rates fell short of most national goals, but rates were substantially lower for WIC infants.
- Infant formula marketing targets non-WIC mothers and also reaches WIC mothers. Some of these marketing efforts use the trademarked WIC acronym in promotional materials.
- A majority of studies [we] reviewed that examine giving free formula samples to mothers at hospital discharge found lower breastfeeding rates among both WIC and non-WIC mothers.
So, some of you may be thinking: What’s the big deal with formula being marketed/ available to moms in the hospital? Not every woman wants to breastfeed.
Not every woman wants to breastfeed, but for those ones who DO want to, the elimination of in-your-face-formula can only help. How?
If you have given birth, you know how it is. If you haven’t let me paint you a picture. Labor is hard work. In fact, it’s not called “labor” for nothing, and it could go on for hours. Some hospitals won’t let you eat. And you are tired. Medicated or non-medicated; Vaginal or C-section, you are still working and the work doesn’t stop once you have the baby in your arms. If you choose to breastfeed, you have more work ahead of you… especially within the first few hours post-delivery. So, you are tired, the adrenaline has most likely worn off, you’ve been up for hours and now you have to try to figure out how to get a squalling, wiggly infant to latch on and take a few drops of colostrum. Depending on where you are and who is with you, you might hear:
- “Let me get the LC and let’s figure out what’s happening”
- “I saw a picture of breastfeeding in nursing school. You just have to get baby on!” (this was said to me after having DD1 by my recovery nurse.)
- “It’s OK that you tried, but you are tired. We’ll give your baby some sugar water and a pacifier and you can try again in a few hours.”
- “Nice job trying, but we’ll just give the baby a few ounces of formula to tide him over”
Coming up this week:
Thursday: ACA, breastfeeding and work
Friday: Seven Quick Takes: Breastfeeding in Social Situations
Saturday: Bad Medical Advice
Sunday: Breastfeeding in the Bible
Monday: Modesty and Breastfeeding (Guest Post over at Imperfect Kate)
Tuesday: Avoiding Bottle-feeding guilt
*Healthy People 2010 Targets
Objective 16-19 – Increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies:
In early postpartum to 75%
At 6 months to 50%
At 12 months to 25%
Exclusively through 3 months to 40%
Exclusively through 6 months to 17%