Mother’s Milk

Okay, we were with Mayor Bloomberg when he successfully sought to ban smoking in bars and restaurants. We liked his crackdown on gigantic servings of sugar-laden soda. We bought the argument that government has an obligation to act forcefully on matters of public health.

But now he’s going too far.

Beginning next month, the city is going to force-feed mother’s milk in some maternity wards by discouraging the use of formula. It’s not that new moms will have no choice but to breastfeed, but some hospitals won’t exactly be advertising the availability of formula. The city will monitor the use of formula in about two dozen hospitals.
The benefits of breastfeeding are clear. But new moms should not feel inadequate if they choose to feed their newborns with formula. That does, however, seem like the inevitable result of this earnest but misbegotten initiative. It’s not hard to picture the official scowls of disapproval that will greet moms who dare ask for a bottle.

Not all moms, and not all newborns, take to breastfeeding immediately, which is why an occasional bottle can relieve postpartum anxieties. Moms who are simply looking for a break from feeding or pumping shouldn’t feel that they are somehow less-than-perfect mothers.

The Bloomberg years have seen remarkable initiatives in public health policy. This isn’t one of them.