It may not be PC to say so but the New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ‘Latch On’ program is a step in the right direction.
Given that there has been quite a bit of negative reaction in the press, I thought I would post the actual ‘Latch On’ recommendations for parents to see themselves:
Hospitals joining Latch On NYC have agreed to:
- Enforce the New York State hospital regulation to not supplement breastfeeding infants with formula unless medically indicated and documented on the infant’s medical chart
- Limit access to infant formula by hospital staff
- Discontinue the distribution of promotional or free infant formula
- Prohibit the display and distribution of infant formula advertising or promotional materials in any hospital location
Here are some other key points for parents to know:
- Hospitals can choose to participate or not
- The program supports an already existing public health law (listed in the first bullet above) that has not been adhered to by hospitals.
- The point of limiting access of formula serves two purposes: to change the culture of hospitals postpartum to be more supportive of breastfeeding moms, and also to use the formula that public hospitals buy for those who actually need it rather than wasting valuable city funds.
- Discontinuing free promotional items from formula companies is valid due to the fact that the early days of nursing feel very vulnerable – we are very insecure and unsure even when everything is going well. Having promotional material ever-present could undermine our confidence in breastfeeding further. It’s similar to public schools wanting to get soda machines out of the lunch room (yes, I know formula is not soda – no need to email me – I’m just making a point about the value of advertising to a vulnerable population).
The Baby Friendly Initiative has been around for over a decade, yet not a single hospital in NYC has been able to meet its criteria, failing to support the early days of mother and baby in an evidence-based manner. What I see time and time again is that if a mom gets the breastfeeding support she truly needs through the first 2-7 days, she is generally good to go after that. Anyone like Bloomberg who attempts to bring this to the public eye and encourage more immediate postpartum support is recognizing that new parents need more support – not more product.