Starting in September, Mayor Bloomberg's mission to make breast feeding ubiquitous will enter a new phase, when participating hospitals start locking up and monitoring their allocation of baby formula. As part of the Health Department's voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, the formula will be kept under lock and key, requiring nurses to sign it out like medication for moms who request it. In addition, the Post reports that 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also "agreed to give up swag bags sporting formula-company logos, toss out formula-branded tchotchkes like lanyards and mugs, and document a medical reason for every bottle that a newborn receives."
The World Health Organization says that infants up to six months should exclusively breastfeed. As we noted back in 2007—when the Health Department devoted $2 million to promote boob food in hospitals—breast feeding has been shown to reduce a baby's risk of obesity, asthma, diabetes, leukemia, or lymphoma. Breast milk also protects against infection with maternal antibodies and helps build a stronger mommy-baby bond. Breast fed babies may also grow up to have higher IQs, and, more importantly, their mothers have a 100% chance of winning Mayor Bloomberg's approval.
Participating hospitals will still give formula to mothers who request it, but with every bottle they request, staffers will explain why she should offer the breast instead. Gothamist Executive Editor Jen Chung, mother of one, shared her mixed feelings with us: "For many women, breastfeeding is HARD, that's why there are lactation consultants who charge like $175/private visit or $35 for a 15-minute phone call after you leave the hospital. And when the breastfeeding isn't going well, it really makes the mom depressed. For some moms and babies, it's easy, for others, it's harder. I definitely think moms should give it a try for as long as they can but they shouldn't feel like terrible mothers if they can't or that the hospital/medical professionals won't support them. Keeping formula 'locked up' is also weird — moms could just make their partners/friends buy it from the drug store."