Who is losing their ability to choose, really?

A dear friend on Facebook posited to me the thought that the whole Latch On NYC initiative being promoted by Mayor Bloomberg takes away a mother’s choice in how to feed her baby.  

I want to point out first that this is a VOLUNTARY program that NYC created and it does not forbid formula feeding; it simply restricts formula marketing in hospitals. You can read more about it here: Latch On NYC (via the City of New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene website)

The reality is, most women are not choosing to formula feed. The majority of women who give birth do initiate breastfeeding. Most women do NOT choose to formula feed, rather, it was their only alternative after  breastfeeding failed. That’s NOT really a choice, that’s a fallback. But formula marketing is *proven* in studies to reduce the rates of breastfeeding in women who WANT to breastfeed. Who’s to say that if that formula marketing hadn’t woven its fingers into the very workings of the hospital where a woman who tried to breastfeed and then gave up, if her outcome would have been different; however, studies show time and again that it might have been. And if any mother perceives that sort of outcome as a personal failure then the formula marketing has REALLY been effective, because they’ve managed to sabotage it without any sort of implication.

Study after study after study after study demonstrate that free formula samples adversely impact breastfeeding rates in women who choose to breastfeed.

I absolutely agree that the decision to feed formula vs. breastfeeding is a personal decision and every mother has the right to make that decision for herself and her baby. However, if (like studies show) the presence of free formula, misinformation from formula companies, and the implied endorsement of formula by medical staff through merchandise and freebies sabotages womens’ efforts to breastfeed and get help when they need it, then who is losing out on really having a choice?

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