New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken steps to push hospitals to guide new mothers away from baby formula so that they will breast-feed instead.
Starting Sept. 3, the city will track how many formula bottles participating hospitals purchase and use, constituting the strongest pro-breast-feeding program in the nation, the New York Post
Of the city’s 40 hospitals, 27 have signed up for the Health Department’s voluntary “Latch On NYC” program. They have agreed to give up passing out freebies such as swag bags with formula-company logos and formula-branded mini gifts such as lanyards and mugs. The 27 hospitals also will document a medical reason for every bottle that an infant receives.
Baby formula will be stored in isolated, secure storerooms or in locked boxes like those used to distribute and track medications. When a mother receives a bottle, she’ll also get an explanation from hospital staffers as to why she should breast-feed instead.
As you can imagine, many mothers and expectant mothers are less than thrilled by the idea. “If they put pressure on me, I would get annoyed,” Lynn Sidnam, a Staten Island mother of two formula-fed girls, ages 4 months and 9 years, told the Post. “It’s for me to choose.”
Hospital officials emphasize that mothers won’t be denied formula. “It’s the patient’s choice,” Allison Walsh of Beth Israel Medical Center told the Post. “But it’s our job to educate them on the best option.”
Lisa Paladino of Staten Island University Hospital told the Post, “The key to getting more moms to breast-feed is making the formula less accessible. This way, the RN [registered nurse] has to sign out the formula like any other medication. The nurse’s aide can’t just go grab another bottle.”
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