The mommy shame parade that comes with formula-feeding your baby is soon to be governmentally sanctioned in New York: Latch On NYC, a new initiative announced back in July that begins in two days (AHH!), encourages women to breastfeed by granting them less access to formula. Still confused? Need a visual aid? Check out the resplendent subway ads reading "Nothing Compares With Breast Milk, featuring babies going to town on their smiling moms' teats, Just As God Intended or whatever. From the Latch On NYC website:
Through a voluntary commitment, hospitals provide additional support to breastfeeding mothers and minimize practices that can interfere with that choice such as supplementing breastfeeding infants with formula, unless medically indicated or at the mother's specific request.
And no more freebies at hospital discharge, either. New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley says that the previously-routine handing-out of formula samples to the new mom "can impede the establishment of an adequate milk supply and undermine women's confidence in breastfeeding." If the new mother requests and receives formula, she will be given "a talking-to." Despite the proven health benefits of breast milk (it lowers the risk of diarrhea, pneumonia, and ear infections), underlying this "lactivism" is a sinister anti-feminist vibe, argues a piece in The Observer this morning.
The writer and her girlfriend, who have been discussing having a child, have chosen not to breastfeed for multiple reasons—among them not wanting the baby to bond more with the breastfeeding parent and not with the other—but mostly find the ideological principles behind society's obsession with breastfeeding problematic.
The notion that "breast is best" simply because it's natural sounds ringingly similar to the arguments made by pro-lifers and even contraception opponents, all of which begin with the same basic premise: women should be shackled to their corporeal destinies. Your body is designed this way-to get pregnant, to bring an embryo to term, to nurture life-therefore you must submit to its dictates.
Among the experts she interviewed, the most extreme breastfeeding propagandists say that even the breast pump and bottle feeding isn't good enough. Weirdly, many of them resort to sexual metaphors. ("Feeding a baby with a bottle is akin to making love with a condom," one doctor says. Another draws an analogy between bottle-feeding and breastfeeding to masturbation and sex with a partner. Guhhh.)
I don't know about you guys, but I've always thought that one of my best character traits is my ability to produce milk. Like, if I couldn't, nobody would even want to be friends with me.
'Time for Feminists to Stop Arguing About Breastfeeding and Fight for Better Formula' [New York Observer]
'Bloomy's bottle boner' [New York Post]
Image via Petrenko Andriy/Shutterstock