Newborn baby girl image from Shutterstock

Starting September 3, New York City will kick off what the Latch On NYC initiative, which the NY Post is calling, “The most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.”  The city will be keeping track of all the bottles and the amount of formula used by hospitals in the New York area in order to ensure that mothers and babies are getting a fair shake at breastfeeding. The program, backed by Mayor Bloomberg is meant to encourage breastfeeding, while discouraging formula feeding, by keeping formula out of sight, out of mind. Hospitals will have to lock up formula, just like they do medications. If a mother asks for it, she can have it, but the formula will need to be signed out by a nurse and each nurse will need to cite a medical reason as to why this particular mama and baby will be getting a bottle. Many approve of the move, as hefty research backs up breast milk as superior to formula for many reasons. For example, not only is breastfeeding eco-friendly, but plenty of research links breastfeeding to reduced SIDS risks, better bonding, reduced risk of obesity, reduced cancer and much more. Others insist this move is too intrusive, controlling and annoying and think that mothers should be given formula as they wish, without medical cause.

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Image by Flickr User Mothering Touch

As part of the city Health Department’s voluntary Latch On NYC initiative, a full 27 of the city’s 40 hospitals have also agreed to quit handing out formula swag bags with formula-company logos and formula company provided items like bottles and mugs. New York is not the first state to quit handing out formula as if it were Halloween candy, but this is the most extreme formula policy ever created. Maybe for good reason too. New York doesn’t have the worst breastfeeding rates in the country, but they also don’t have great breastfeeding rates. Currently just 40% to 49% of women in New York are still breastfeeding at six months. Furthermore, nationwide, only 1/3 of all women are meeting their own exclusive breastfeeding goals. On top of abysmal breastfeeding rates, formula, while widely debated as being mostly safe, can’t compare to the quality and safety of breast milk and it’s tough to even locate a decent organic formula. Like or hate it, new anti-formula policies are sweeping hospitals around the country and with New York on board, more states are sure to follow suit. What do you think of New York’s new pro-breastfeeding policies? Tell us in the comments.

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Lead image by Flickr User edenpictures