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Mayor Bloomberg’s Flawed Formula to Promote Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding v. Formula Feeding, Latch on NYC

Breast can be best, but formula doesn't make you a failure

I would like to tell Mayor Bloomberg to get his hands off my boobs. Ok — I neither live in NYC nor do I have infants any more. But I am sick and tired of the nursing wars, and I am appalled that any of America’s mayors would think they should play such a major, patronizing and controversial role in them. Both of my children were formula fed. I would have nursed them, but I was medically unable. And I’m not the only one. I know moms who have taken breaks from treatment for cancer, colitis, and other diseases while pregnant and need to return to their meds immediately after delivery. I have seen many mothers delve into deep depressions over their struggles to nurse, and a depressed mom is not the best mom. Breast may be best — sometimes. But what if the mom is drinking alcohol or using drugs? Mayor Bloomberg doesn’t seem to have eradicated those problems from his city, yet he’s more than willing to squire away baby formula under lock and key. What if Mom is struggling with a medical condition or after all the education in the world, has made her own decision, for many potentially legitimate reasons, to formula feed instead? What about adopted babies? What do we do there? And FYI, Mayor Bloomberg, when my son was born with the most common congenital heart condition in the US, his cardiologist was secretly pleased to know I was not nursing, because formula was actually the best way to know how many calories my son was taking in and burning, and made it easier to track the full impact his disease was having on him.

I think before locking away the baby formula, Mayor Bloomberg might try focusing instead on ensuring proper prenatal care for the city’s poor. Or how about tackling a few things on the school lunch menu first? I found a few gems on the New York Public Schools menu that he might consider focusing on, like the Mozzarella Stick Entree with 25 grams of fat, or the PB&J Cutout (whatever that is) with a whopping 27 grams of fat, a Pizza Bagel with 620 mg of sodium, or juice boxes, five types of cookies, Taco Bites, and heck — let’s get rid of the mayonnaise, bologna and buttermilk biscuits while we’re at it. Let’s give lectures before people head into the mid-town McDonald’s or the Downtown Dunkin’ Donuts — or before they order the Goat Cheese Gnocchi at Jean George or dessert at Le Bernardin.

Or, how about this? How about trusting women, their doctors and their babies’ pediatricians to make the choices that are best for them without the undue interference of politicians and government regulators? And how about educating expectant parents that breast may best most of the time, but formula does not make you a failure? If Mayor Bloomberg is so narrow minded and so patronizing to think the only way to educate women about the value of breastfeeding is to treat formula like a controlled substance and to treat women like children who can’t keep their hands out of the cookie jar, then perhaps he needs a re-education of his own.


  1. Melissa Mae August 6, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    I want to politely ask you to reconsider the advertisement. The ad doesn’t say anything (for or) against formula-feeding babies. It says that breast feeding reduces risk of ear infections, pneumonia, and diarrhea and that it is every woman’s right to breast feed her baby. I would hope that you would agree with these points. I’m assuming you are arguing with the bolded statement “Breast milk is best for your baby” and I agree that there are circumstances that can make breastfeeding not “best” but the ad is not saying “Formula is bad for your baby.” I would guess that the intent of the ad is for moms that might not considering breastfeeding their newborns without being encouraged to do so. You said were medically unable to breastfeed your babies. I assume that means you considered it an option. However, there are many that don’t even consider it an option.

  2. MediaMom August 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Melissa, thanks for your comment, and let me clarify. My issue is not with this poster, per se, but with Mayor Bloomberg’s high profile position and campaign to make it very difficult for women to get formula to feed their babies in the hospital. I wholeheartedly support education campaigns that promote the value of nursing. What I can’t support is a campaign that punishes and patronizes women who make a different choice, or for whom breastfeeding is not a viable choice. While I can’t agree that breast is best 100% of the time, I don’t take issue with the hyperbole used in the ad. I appreciate its marketing value for a noble educational purpose.

    • Melissa Mae August 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      I understand now what you are getting at. I’m not familiar with the campaign. It sounds unwise, at best. Can you link to anything providing more information? Thanks.

  3. Melissa Mae August 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Scratch that. I see the link now.

  4. Mom22 August 7, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    I do not think this will make it difficult for moms to obtain breastmilk in the hospital, mainly discourage nurses from handing out formula to moms who don’t feel supported in their efforts to breastfeed. If anything the bias has been toward encouraging bottle feeding in this country, and I think this is an effort to balance the scales. It has been shown that the availability of formula in hospitals is directly linked to lower rates of successful breastfeeding. I think the most important thing, however, is not “locking up” the formula, so much as provided information and support to moms who want to breastfeed.

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