Starting September 3rd, the city of New York is taking back what it believes is rightfully theirs to control – its citizens boobies. That’s right, the city is enacting new regulations to “encourage” breastfeeding and discourage the use of formula. This recent article by the New York Post made a glorious introduction of the Latch On Program – an initiative in NYC that asks hospitals to ditch Formula samples and tchotchkes, hide their formula under lock and key, and give new mothers a “talking-to” if they request supplementation.
I haven’t felt this violated since Bobby tried to cop a feel during my first game of 7 Minutes in Heaven.
As a pro-breastfeeding mom, I get the foundation on which this program is built. Breast is best. Yeah, yeah – we know. That little catch phrase is everywhere – on the formula can, on the poster in the OB/GYN’s office, in birth classes and touted in the hospital. We get it, okay? There is no doubt that breastfeeding comes with invaluable benefits. Study after study, report after report, book after book tells us that breastfed babies:
Not to mention, breastfeeding has added benefits for the mother – and, hey, it’s free. If you need to re-read all of the pros, I suggest you check out one of the ba-jillion pro-breastfeeding resources out there.
To be honest, I do understand the effort to remove the swag. Formula companies, in my opinion, are bleeding us dry with the cost of formula and I have to wonder if the 7 million free samples they are giving out to everyone is increasing our costs. Also, their persistent prenatal presence does make it appear like they are just waiting in the wings to step in during a frustrated new mother’s weakest moment – making it even easier for her to say “fine, just make the damn bottle!” In my personal experience, I was bombarded with free formula swag from the time sperm met egg, and I just could have done without so much of it in my face.
But the bottom line is, what is “natural” and “best” is not always as “easy” as everyone likes to claim it to be.
My goal was to breastfeed my son from the beginning, and for as long as I could. But I knew that maybe I wouldn’t be that lucky. There are so many variables when it comes to successful nursing – sometimes a mother’s milk doesn’t ever come in. Some mothers are too stressed out and anxious to successfully breastfeed. Some babies just can’t latch properly and it just doesn’t work out. Sometimes you are in pain 24/7 and want to rip your tatas completely off your body. Pro-breastfeeding maniacs like to blame all of these scenarios on the mother, because clearly she just did not try hard enough.
I breastfed my son for 6 months. Through the bleeding, the chapping, the shooting pain, the torture – yes, I am calling it torture. Not until 2 months in did we find a rhythm. The one thing that I can honestly say I was not prepared for when it came to motherhood was how completely and entirely difficult it would be to feed my own child. People said it would be hard, but I don’t think I even knew the meaning of hard until I actually experienced it for myself. Looking back, could I have done things differently to make my path a little bit easier? Maybe. Do I blame myself? Absolutely not.
And neither should those mothers that could not, or did not, breastfeed from day one. The birthing experience can be overwhelming, traumatic, scary, stressful, exhausting – for some, it can be pure hell. To say that a mother “didn’t try hard enough” to feed their own child, regardless of circumstance, is offensive to all mothers. How dare we judge another mother’s struggle when we do not walk their path? No, now we’re going to start giving them a “talking-to,” as if they are as incompetent and naive as a 4 year old that thought it was a good idea to give a Crayola make-over to Mom and Dad’s new beige sofa.
Sorry, Mayor Bloomberg – but my boobs are my business. It is not for you or your city to take authority over how I choose to feed, and therefore parent, my child. How about instead of investing taxpayer dollars in pushing paper to track the use of formula as if it were methadone and infringing on my personal right to do with my body what I choose, you put your efforts into a solution that’s a little less offensive and invasive.
How about education? Like Lamaze and Hypnobirthing and “Birthing from Within”, how about hospitals offer a class called “Yup! Breastfeeding is Fucking Hard.”
How about information? Just as hospitals can’t send new parents home without “The Period of Purple Crying” video, how about you produce a new video called “Chapping: It’s not just for your lips! (And other breastfeeding stories.)”
How about resources? Why don’t we require our doctors and our nurses to all become certified lactation consultants and for hospitals to get their shit together on how to show a mother the proper hold, position and latch. It doesn’t help that new mothers running on 20 minutes of sleep in the last 48 hours have every nurse coming in and out of the room trying to show them a different way to do things – none of which are working anyway.
The last thing we mothers need is a “talking-to” about our breasts. The last thing we need is the city dictating what we can and cannot do with our bodies. The last thing we need is the government taking away our rights to decide how we nourish our children. The last thing we need is another form of judgement to make us feel inadequate.
Go ahead, promote breastfeeding. But, please, Mayor Bloomberg, stay away from my boobs.