mike bloomberg breast is best
I wrote an article for Comediva last week about Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s new policies for Latch on NYC. This article was for a comedy website so I didn’t talk about all of my feelings regarding breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Luckily, I have a blog.

I have gotten tons of nasty emails from people who think I am against breastfeeding which makes me wonder if they even read my article. I guess I would call myself pro-breastfeeding anti-guilt.

This is because I really, really, really wanted to breastfeed but I was not given the proper tools to do so like the hospital had promised. I delivered my daughter at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center and never once saw a lactation consultant. I was told this was because I had my daughter on a Friday afternoon. Once I had to give up breastfeeding I felt a tremendous amount of guilt because of the remarks I got from other people and all the adds I saw from the New York City Government promoting the “Breast is Best” campaign. I felt like a little ant who wanted to do her best for her baby but my anthill kept getting stepped on by people bigger than me. I cried to my therapist about how I felt small.

In the end I learned no one can make you feel small you are in control of how you feel so I went to therapy, started a blog, found my voice, and learned to speak up.

So in honor of this I would like to write a letter.

Dear Mike Bloomberg,
I feel your heart is in the right place but am afraid your actions won’t help. Anyone can spend a lot of money and cover the subways, streets, and billboards of NYC with adds promoting breastfeeding. All you have to do is write a check. It’s also easy to make formula harder to receive at the hospital and to tell new parents that breast is best. All you have to do is memorize words and repeat them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. I know from experience these techniques make moms who can’t or don’t wish to breastfeed feel guilty and preach to the choir of breastfeeding moms.

I know a much more useful way of using the taxpayers of New York’s hard earned money. Make sure every New York mother sees a lactation consultant in the hospital if she so chooses. The only way to learn how to breastfeed properly is to have someone actually help you breastfeed. Have lactation consultants do follow ups once the mom is out of the hospital. It would be helpful if all insurance plans covered this. Help working moms get long paid maternity leaves. And please take down the “Breast is Best” posters. We get it. Now what we need to do is make sure every mom gets the education she needs to breastfeed even if her baby is born on a Friday afternoon.

Stay Glamorous,

Shannon Sutherland

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8 Responses to “DEAR MIKE BLOOMBERG”

  1. snarkysarcasticbish August 6, 2012 at 2:33 PM #

    Sweetie, I am sorry first of all that you didn’t get to see a lactation consultant, second of all that you were made to feel guilty because you couldn’t figure out how to get her to latch on and feed. But keep in mind, your daughter is a beautiful young lady who will grow up knowing that her mom and dad love her. Breastfeeding is an amazing experience but not everyone can do it for the recommended amount of time and if there is no one around to help them out, formula works for them. I know of a young mother who cannot eat dairy products because her son has a milk allergy. In that regard, I would probably feed formula full time. My first son was preemie and there was no one I was going to be able to keep up with his needs, but I pumped til my forearms looked like George Foreman’s. Scary arms, phew….. My MIL was all over my case cause I didn’t stay with it. When my daughter was born, within 15 minutes she latched on and stayed there til she was 14 months. My youngest, we had issues, he had a bubble in his tummy that didn’t allow him to keep food down. But once we got that figured out, he stayed there til he was almost 3. Those last year feedings were only night times and first thing in the morning. I had no issues feeding him regular food either. He just wasn’t ready to give it up and I was not either. Judge not fellow breast feeders. It’s a personal decision to breastfeed vs. formula feeding. Whatever works best for you is what you should be comfortable with. Until a man pushes a baby outta his penis *yes I shall behave here* and his nipples start lactating, no one has the right to tell me what to do with my body. I am pro breastfeeding, pro choice and sorry no government body has a right to make me feel guilty for how I feel. Making a woman feel guilty for not breastfeeding is sure not the way to keep a woman from suffering postpartum depression. Let that first lawsuit hit his office and he will change his tune. Women have the right to decide what happens to them, don’t make things worse. Often enough, they feel guilty enough without the extra help from governing bodies.


    • Shannon August 6, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

      Thanks Katie. The image of a man pushing a baby out of his penis cracked me up!

  2. Karen Dent August 6, 2012 at 5:10 PM #

    I like your letter. At this point you would have to live under a rock to not have heard “breast is best”. I have always hated that slogan. I think “a happy mom is best”, or better yet “a healthy baby is best.” My sister was unable to breastfeed, she has lupus and is on many meds that are not safe for the baby. I hate the dirty looks people can give when you give your child a bottle. Who knows why a woman is not breastfeeding. It may not be by choice, it could be a medical reason. Nobody should have to defend the chose to breastfeed or not. I have said before I have done both, Katie was formula fed, David was breastfed for 16 months.
    I think the options you gave as to where to focus spending were great. Every woman should get to see a lactation consultant, if she wants to. People place too much pressure on Mom’s. It doesn’t matter what you do someone will tell you that you are wrong.
    I got looks because I breastfed David past a year (oh and I also used cloth diapers). People thought I was going all “crunchy”. I wasn’t. David was allergic to disposable diapers, and lets be honest I am cheap. I had two kids in diapers for a while, disposables are expensive.
    You have a beautiful, healthy little girl, you must have done something right! Oh and my healthier child was the one on formula. David was always getting colds and rashes. Katie was never sick.

    • Shannon August 6, 2012 at 7:51 PM #

      I was breastfed and had ear infections all the time. Princess A hasn’t had one. It’s interesting to hear the point of view of a mom who has formula fed and breastfed.

  3. Melissa August 6, 2012 at 5:54 PM #

    I didn’t want to breastfeed at 19 because I knew nothing about it. My only knowledge about the subject was from a book and it looked painful and weird. My mom bottle fed all 4 of us and I had never seen anyone breastfeeding before.

    I doubt our little podunk hospital had a lactation consultant, but I was on some seriously strong antibiotics after his birth so it wasn’t logical for me to even try even if I wanted to.

    Now I know that it is the healthiest choice, if you have a choice, but it sounds like it just wasn’t right for Princess A. The next time it may be different. I say that each family and each baby is different and before the mayor or any other official gets involved, they should breastfeed at least 3 kids themselves.

    • Shannon August 6, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

      I agree. they should definitely have to breastfeed themselves before they boss us around.

  4. Lisa August 6, 2012 at 7:57 PM #

    Ok here is my story on all this…..Cody was born prem and had to stay in ICU for 2wks. Durning that 2wks the staff were feeding him on Formula. Once he was out of ICU they tried to put him on my breast, but he wldnt take and i was getting stressed which was making my son stressed. So i decided to keep him on formula, the Staff wasnt happy, but i did what was best for me and my son. Being prem they were worried that he wldnt get enough vitiams and shit that breast milk gives…THAT IS A LOAD OF BULL!!! I have a very healthy 4yr old boy, who is way more advance then half his kindy class…has never been sick, started on soilds at the age of 4mth and you wld never think he was born prem.

    Australia has been going through the same discussion for 3mths now, and our Prime Minister is a cow and has had no kids, why wld a mother listen to someone like her about Breast Is Best? If a mother can’t breast feed for any reason, it shldnt be pushed cause at the end of the day…Only A Mother Knows BEST!! 🙂

    • Shannon August 6, 2012 at 9:37 PM #

      I guess it’s not just an American problem but a worldwide problem of men thinking they know best on what a woman should do with her body.

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