In an article titled “Mike: Do What’s Breast for Baby” (no, really), the New York Post reveals the Mayor’s plans to boost breastfeeding at city hospitals.
“He’s cracked down on smoking, trans fats, salt and sugary drinks. And now, Mayor Bloomberg is promoting a new health initiative: breast feeding,” the paper notes. “The Health Department is pushing a sweeping initiative to prod dozens of city hospitals to get more moms in their maternity wards to breast feed.”
Hospitals who want to participate in the “Baby Friendly Hospital” program can get federal funding for “technical assistance.” The move would involve 24 of New York’s 36 medical centers, and would require that they set up a plan to bolster breastfeeding with new moms.
Compared to Bloomberg’s other public health initiatives — which are annoying if you enjoy good food or the occasional cigarette — this one actually makes a lot of sense.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently reiterated that breast-fed kids have fewer digestive tract problems and ear infections — and less obesity in the long-term, as noted by the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Of course, a lot will depend on the program’s execution: New mothers shouldn’t get pressured into breastfeeding — they should be presented with the evidence and make whatever choice without feeling goaded or guilty. Based upon Bloomberg’s past public health scare tactics, it’s unlikely we can trust government officials to do that.
Also, economic concerns must be addressed. Women get three months maternity leave, and Centers for Disease Control recs now suggest six months of breastfeeding.
So, to promote this practice without also pushing for mom-friendly employment policies or workplaces neglects the real, financial constraints of contemporary families.
The Voice has reached out to Bloomberg’s office to get more specs.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 19, 2012