Breastfeeding is a subject near and dear to my heart. At 18-years-old and having been married for just over a year, I discovered I was pregnant with my first child. Nursing my baby didn’t even cross my mind as my sisters and mother all breastfed for a very short time. Thankfully, I was blessed with a mother-in-law that was really ‘cutting edge’ for her time. In 1960 and 1962 she breastfed her boys and she encouraged me to do the same with her first grandchild. She educated me, made me nursing tops and let me sleep while bringing him to me for feedings; in other words, she gave me a great start. Five more successfully breastfed babies followed, and my desire to help other women breastfeed had been sparked. Unfortunately, I turned into a Breastfeeding Snob until God decided to reel me in with a big reality check. During pregnancy seven, I was diagnosed with kidney disease and had to supplement feed babies seven and eight. After living through the ultimate Mommy Guilt, I finally accepted that some women bottle-feed, for whatever reason. Other than it being none of my business, it’s their right as a woman and an American! My Breastfeeding Snob quietly went to the corner, although she does pop out here and there.
In August 2012, America’s second favorite nanny (next to Michelle Obama), Mayor Bloomberg, announced that New York City hospitals would be joining the ‘Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative‘ (BFHI). BFHI is a worldwide program from the World Health Organization and UNICEF that is, in a nutshell, a way of promoting breastfeeding. The New York Post wrote, “The city will keep tabs on the number of bottles that participating hospitals stock and use — the most restrictive pro-breast-milk program in the nation.” ‘Keeping tabs’ was said to include locking up artificial baby milk and providing a mini-lecture each time a bottle was requested. In the same article, Lisa Paladino, of Staten Island University Hospital, made this rather Communism-esque comment, “The key to getting more moms to breast-feed is making the formula less accessible. This way, the RN has to sign out the formula like any other medication. The nurse’s aide can’t just go grab another bottle.” I have to admit, my inner Breastfeeding Snob kind of liked this plan. But, there was enough of a backlash from the public that it appears they abandoned the way they were promoting the initiative, the ‘Latch on NYC‘ link seems to be missing from NYC.gov (I eventually found a pdf) although most hospitals in NYC are voluntarily complying anyway.
Along comes news from Venezuela about a new piece of legislation that would ban all baby bottles from the country in order to promote breastfeeding and to “increase the love between mother and baby”. Now, ask any mom who has breastfed and they will tell you that the nursing relationship between them and their child is/was intense and special. There’s a chemical reason behind that, oxytocin, the ‘bonding’ neurohypophysial hormone that releases during breastfeeding. I can assure you that even though I used a supplementor (container with formula and a tube that attaches to the breast) most of the time with my last two, I did eventually have to add bottles and I love those two boys just as much as my other children! A website called VenezuelAnalysis claims, “The corporate media have reacted hysterically to the law, claiming that President Nicolas Maduro is “taking bottles from babies’ mouths.” It says that medical centers are ignoring the current breastfeeding promotion laws. The article goes on to make some excellent points. So what’s going on here? Some may not like the fact that even here in the U.S., some babies die from not being breastfed, but the truth isn’t always happy. Just like the truth about obesity and sugar, it’s not a ‘happy truth’ and even though we all know it’s true, when Bloomberg got rid of large sodas, conservatives saw the big picture. Are we willing to sacrifice our freedom to the government, even when we know they’re right about something?
This issue has a big picture, just how easily this could happen here at anytime. It kind of reminds me of abortion supporter’s go-to slogan, “It’s my body!” No, it’s your baby’s body. That complicates this a bit, it’s the babies in Venezuela, isn’t it? How easy it would be to “do it for the children!” Venezuela already has the Law of Promotion and Protection of Breastfeeding, which is what they wish to revise to include the ban. They say there would be exceptions for moms who can’t breastfeed, but who decides what is an exception? What happens when a mother just can’t handle it anymore, if she gets overwhelmed but she’s denied the right to bottle-feed her baby? That’s the slippery slope that Big Brother and Those Who Know Best always seem to ignore. Which makes the support this has in the U.S., based on many article comments, incredibly frightening. So, what about that baby? Could he die because mom is giving him whatever she has on hand? Legislator Odalis Monzon of Venezuela’s Socialist Party said, “We want to increase the love (between mother and child) because this has been lost as a result of these transnational companies selling formula,” but didn’t answer all of the “what if” questions. The Socialist Party is the majority in Congress so it’s assumed this will actually pass. Chavez would be so proud and I’d bet a few bucks that Michelle Obama believes this is a beautiful and progressive idea, too. This is part of the real War on Women and it’s coming to America very, very soon. I kind of admire my Breastfeeding Snob today, she’s ‘progressive’ enough to know what harm this could really do to women and children.