Big gulps of soda? Not good.
Big gulps of breast milk? The more the better.
Latch on, you cute little fuckers. Latch on.
In yet another move that demonstrates that Bloomberg knows what’s best for all of us, from the MOMENT we are born, the city has set about implementing a new health initiative called Latch On NYC that aims to “support mothers who choose to breastfeed and limit practices that interfere with that choice.”
Starting in September, this initiative will include a “a subway and hospital poster campaign highlighting the benefits of breast milk” and will also have hospitals which have committed to the program promoting breast-feeding and strictly limiting access to formula.
All of which, objectively, is a good thing. It’s not unlike the soda ban in the way that both initiatives are trying to guide people into making healthier and more informed choices. In fact, these are just two examples of what is being called “nudging.” The New York Times’s blog Motherlode writes about this new socio-political process of “nudging” people to make the right choices for their health and, by extension, the health of our society. The way writer KJ Dell’Antonia describes “nudging” is that, “it’s putting the healthy food out front and the candy bars in a less accessible spot. It’s making retirement savings the default choice with an opt-out instead of an opt-in. It is, arguably, making someone buy two separate drinks to get more than 16 ounces of soda.”
All of those examples, though, are of things where the choice being made is just that: a choice. For some women, breast feeding is not a choice, it is the only option. And even though the NYC health initiative is careful to use language that notes that breast-feeding is a choice, when the initiative includes things like keeping formula under lock-and-key in the hospital, it seems to be implicitly demonizing women who choose to formula-feed their newborns.
Alissa Quart recently wrote in the Times about her experience as a new mother. She was initially unable to produce breastmilk and worried about the weight and health of her newborn. However, when she and her husband asked their pediatrician about supplementing with formula, they were told, “Formula is evil.”
I don’t know. I think a closer definition to evil would be the act of de-legitimizing the concerns of a new mother that her infant isn’t getting adequate nutrition. Or equating an alternate—and, yes, healthy— form of nutrition as something akin to liquid crack.
Among women who don’t want government meddling with their reproductive rights, it’s pretty common to hear the rallying cry “Stay out of my uterus!”
Maybe now we also need to say “Stay off of my tits!”
Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen