Following Up: "Latch On NYC"

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Deborah Kaplan, assistant commissioner for maternal, infant, and reproductive health at the New York City Department of Health, follows up on yesterday's conversation about access to baby formula in city hospitals.


Deborah Kaplan

Comments [21]

Elisabeth Thibideau from Long Island, NY

I know this isn't part of the discussion of Bloomberg's plan, but i think that sequestering babies in nurseries during the critical day or two when milk starts to flow (or not) has to have a negative affect on breastfeeding. I used a birthing center for my 3 children, so they never were apart from me during this initial period, and i believe this was part of a very easy breastfeeding experience. Apart from the affect on successful milk production, i think it is a bit barbaric to isolate a baby from the spiritual and physical comfort of his mother just when he/she has been expelled from the warm embrace of the womb. I believe future generations will be amazed at the cold way we enter & exit this life via our hospitals.

Aug. 09 2012 05:39 PM

I am severely disappointed in Brooke Gladstone who is regularly "On the Media". She of all people should have picked up on the fact that the media has perpetuated a huge amount of MISinformation about the Latch On Campaign in ways that have left the public believing completely and total falsehoods. The echo chamber of scare stories about formula being taken away from formula feeding mothers is the worst sort of yellow journalism and does the public no good whatsoever.

Yesterdays segment followed by this segment is an example of "false equivalency". Yesterday, she had on a Mommy Blogger who was completely misinformed about the campaign. Brooke herself added to the sense of outrage right along with the Mommy Blogger. At no point did she question the misinformation that the Mommy Blogger perpetuated. In this segment she still took the same approach with a public health official who was reporting facts. A public health official and a Mommy Blogger are not equivalent. Two Mommy Bloggers that were well informed or two public health officials that were well informed would be equivalent.

The years World Breastfeeding Weeks the news media has basically gone on a full scale attack on breastfeeding support -- I feel that they have first used a nuclear warhead, then followed up with napalm, and with the Wall Street Journal articles sent out the drones to kill the truth. The formula industry must be laughing all the way to the bank -- EXCEPT for the fact that many women will still want to breastfeed in spite of all these marketing myths just as they did during the years when the medical establishment was busy giving women drugs to dry up their milk and trying to convince the that breastfeeding wasn't "modern".

Sigh, I don't think I can ever stomach listening to "On the Media" ever again.

Aug. 08 2012 09:15 AM

The reason why it took days for your milk to come in was because your choice to breastfeed was taken away from you when the nurse fed formula to your baby. It is clear that the nurse didn't have you express to compensate for your baby not drinking from your breasts. Your baby would have been miserable because the nurse sabotaged your milk supply with that bottle of formula. You milk would have come in MUCH SOONER if she hadn't used it. Fortunately, you had a responsive body which went on to make enough milk. Women's bodies are designed to be resilient as are babies. Your pediatrician is incorrect. Unfortunately, I work with many women whose breasts are not as responsive as your own. They struggle to recoup the lost opportunity to stimulate their supply and it is much much more work for them to use a pump to compensate for the formula fed to their babies. I would rather than they be spared that additional work.

Aug. 08 2012 08:59 AM
Susan from Upper West Side

Since I was seeing clients yesterday in a group and in their homes, I didn't get to listen to this live.

Alexis and Sara from the previous segment don't get it. In the developing areas where I worked such as Niger, women breastfed without any of the upper middle class or middle class or even lower class products that women have access to in the United States. In fact, many of them can't afford bras at all or even bottles.

I don't see the Department of Health promoting bra. And you don't need the expensive bras. By one of those regular cross over lycra bras and just pull it down when you breastfeed. Much easier than On the other hand, why complain about women who want to buy products and make themselves look pretty while breastfeeding. Some of the bras are really cute and if women want to buy then why be snarky and call them Ubermoms? There is room on this planet for many types of mothers.

The $400 pumps are actually pieces of junk - seriously -- they are more portable, but not powerful. The pumps that cost a little less (in the $300 range) and are actually better. One of the moms I saw yesterday is on WIC and was actually able to get a good solid double electric pump through WIC. Nevertheless, I worked with a mother who had the world's best baby nurse who taught her how to hand express 5 ounces for every feeding. She and her baby nurse couldn't figure out how to use the pump she bought and her baby couldn't attach to the breast until I showed up. The VERY NEXT DAY was the Northeast Blackout of 2003. So, this mother was well equipped to breastfeed and if she needed to hand express milk for her baby.

It is not about being an ubermom. It is a matter of feeding your baby in the normal way that humans have always feed their babies getting help to do so if you encounter problems.

Aug. 08 2012 08:52 AM
Amy from Brooklyn

I was also very surprised at Brooke's tone during the interview. Instead of a thoughtful conversation, every comment the guest made was met with an incredulous reply by Brooke. Regardless of her personal views on the topic, I expect better from a WNYC host.

As a pediatrician at a public hospital (and former breastfeeding mom) I think post partum nurses make a huge impact in initiating breastfeeding. Thanks to the ones I had at Mount Sinai! Also having lactation consultants available in the first 2 weeks is crucial to help mothers who want to breastfeed stick with that plan.

Aug. 07 2012 10:53 PM
ItsAPublicHealthIssue from Bronx, New York

Latch on NYC Initiative – Myths & Facts
Myth: The city is requiring hospitals to put formula under lock and key.
Fact: Hospitals are not being required to keep formula under lock and key under the City’s voluntary initiative. Formula will be fully available to any mother who chooses to feed her baby with formula. What the program does is encourage hospitals to end what had long been common practice: putting promotional formula in a mother’s room, or in a baby’s bassinet or in a go-bag– even for breastfeeding mothers who had not requested it.

Myth: Mothers who want formula will have to convince a nurse to sign it out by giving a medical reason.
Fact: Mothers can and always will be able to simply ask for formula and receive it free of charge in the hospital – no medical necessity required, no written consent required.

Myth: Mothers requesting formula will be subject to a lecture from the nurse.
Fact: The City’s new initiative does not set a requirement that mothers asking for formula receive a lecture or mandated talk. For the last three years, New York State Law under the Breastfeeding Bill of Rights, has required that mothers simply be provided accurate information on the benefits of breastfeeding. This requirement has not changed under the City’s new initiative.

Myth: Latch on NYC is taking away and/or jeopardizing a woman’s right to choose how to feed her baby.
Fact: The initiative is designed to support mothers who decide to breastfeed. For those women, the program asks hospital staff to respect the mother’s wishes and refrain from supplementing her baby with formula (unless it becomes medically necessary or the mother changes her mind). It does not restrict the mother’s nursing options in any way – nor does it restrict access to formula for those who want it.
Myth: Formula will be forbidden in some fashion.
Fact: If a mother decides she wants to use formula (or a combination of formula and breastmilk), she will be supported in her decision and her baby will be given formula during the hospital stay. If a breastfeeding mother changes her mind or requests formula at any time, her baby will be given formula.
Myth: Positive benefits from breastfeeding are being overblown or aren’t true
Fact: There is overwhelming evidence, supported by national and international health organizations, showing that breastfeeding produces better health outcomes for babies and mothers than formula. For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Babies that are breastfed have a lower risk of ear, respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, as well as childhood asthma, than babies who are formula fed.
The American Academy of Pediatrics just published new guidance to pediatricians in February 2012, reaffirming the evidence that the health benefits of breastfeeding over formula are clear:

Aug. 07 2012 09:30 PM

Rather than trying to copy Brian's admirable and interesting agnostic trajectory on everything and anything, Brooke lets it all hang out. What a fun August treat!

Aug. 07 2012 08:46 PM
KF from Brooklyn

My position on this issue aside, WHY is Brooke Gladstone so transparent about HER position?

One of my favorite things about this show is Brian's ability to maintain a pretty balanced stance on the topics he interviews his guests on. I felt sorry for Deborah Kaplan. It was apparent Gladstone sees this initiative as invasive and unfair–but keep it off air! Her tone oscillated between accusatory and condescending, not what I like to hear on this show. Obviously, Brian sets a high standard, but consider choosing a better stand in next time.

Aug. 07 2012 04:29 PM
Elaine Petrowski from Bloomingdale, NJ

I am a postpartum doula and regularly see the results of inadequate breastfeeding KNOWLEDGE and SUPPORT from hospitals. I hope the latch on program will help hospital staff LEARN WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW to properly support those who want to breastfeed. Many hospital staffers ROUTINELY currently give incorrect information about all aspects of breastfeeding --from how long a feeding should last, to insisting that babies " are starving" and need formula, to telling moms they are not producing milk ( no ONE produces milk on day one); "helping" mothers by shoving baby's head on to the breast,and not encouraging gentle skin-to-skin contact; do NOT know what a good latch looks like; tell mothers sore nipples are part of breastfeeding and generally, in my dozen years of experience, do NOT have the correct information to impart.

One more thought- the problems of moms returning to work and therefore not being able to successfully breastfeed are not problems to blame on breastfeeding. It is not breastfeeding that is at "fault" here. They are problems created for the breastfeeding mom by a business -oriented, not family- oriented, culture that is UNWILLING, not unable, to put priority on families, health, and work -life balance. European/Canadian women, who by LAW get adequate PAID maternity leave do NOT face the same early breastfeeding issues women here do with their measly six short weeks of maternity leave.

Aug. 07 2012 02:40 PM
licas mommy from prospect hights blkyn

The sanctimommies all know breastfeeding is best and theyy have the lifestyles to uphold their choice. Yheir incomes support the expensive boppy, pumps nursing bras etc, jobs that provide maternity leave and time and space to pump and store breastmilk upon return to work. Bloomie is not talking to them. This is a class issue. Although in the long run breast is far cheaper. Lower income women have access to supplemental food via WIC and the food stamp program. For those women its cheap vs. free. Hes attempting as usual to save the city dime. WIC has been pushing the breast is best initiative for years with peer councelors, lactation classes and free breast pumps. Hes just following the studies and trying to avoid spending health care dollars on children with higher rates of diabetes & obesity. Its no different than his ban on large soft drinks trans fat or the high cigarette tax.

Aug. 07 2012 12:53 PM
james andrea from Brick, NJ

Sarah Bird's book "The Gap Year" deals with a lactation specialist, wryly, and explores the varied social/political charges cited above.

Aug. 07 2012 12:01 PM
Becky from Brooklyn

I work, in a non-medical capacity, at a hospital in NYC. The hospital seems to have as many upper income patients (and celebrities) as it does lower income patients. Your guest yesterday made it seem as though every patient in an NYC hospital was thoroughly educated about breast feeding, and that the medical staff actively encouraged breast feeding. I am not a nurse or a doctor, but from my daily interactions with patients in the maternity ward, I do not think this is the case. I am almost positive that the breast feeding information is just one more piece of paper that the patients are supposed to read, ponder, and sign, but that they probably just sign. The patients who receive government assistance are so used to signing things that they rarely read anything before signing it. I have never heard a nurse make a negative comment about formula. I don't think you can assume that every mother is educated about breast feeding. They may also be influenced by older friends and relatives who don't know about the benefits of breast feeding. Many times I have been in a patient's room and if the baby starts to cry, the mother or grandmother will reach for a pacifier or bottle of formula, without asking the mother, or without waiting a minute or two to see if the baby calms down.

Personally, as a woman, I am offended by the idea that the Bloomberg administration wants to make it harder for mothers to bottle feed their babies. But I think the host, and her guest, were severely overestimating the amount of breast feeding education and encouragement being given in hospitals.

Aug. 07 2012 11:59 AM
Morgan from Brooklyn

Does Brooke work for Nestle or some big baby formula interest on the side? Very hostile and borderline nasty makes it hurt to listen to.

Aug. 07 2012 11:54 AM
Holly from nyc

As a nurse midwife, I would like women to get as much support and encouragement to breastfeed as possible and a crucial time for this is the first few days after birth. Every day new research and news stories come out showing the dangers of formula feeding as compared with breastfeeding. It's not easy like an immunization, but it is as important for the health of our children.

I feel that this interview kept framing this policy as imposing a burden or a choice on individual women, rather than a public health effort aimed at increasing breastfeeding success and therefore the health of our children.

Aug. 07 2012 11:52 AM
Russell from Upper West Side

This is a phony controversy, unless you work for Procter and Gamble. If you read the city's announcement, poorly written though it is, the main initiative is to keep formula advertising out of hospitals--especially to stop the distribution of free formula packages to 100% of mothers of newborns.

The "medically necessary" language is not NYC's. It already exists in the state regulations.

The initiative also provides help in getting _formula_ to mothers who use it and might not be able to afford it!

Aug. 07 2012 11:46 AM
Moxie from Park Slope

I have birth at Mr. Sinai last year. The nurses gave the baby formula overnight without me knowing. Then the hospital lactation coach gave me all kinds of arduous feeding instructions, including that if I gave her formula I wouldn't be able to breastfeed. My pediatrician told me they used to not even give formula in the hospital because newborns don't need it.
It was all a big kerfuffle over nothing. It took me days for my milk to come in. My baby could have gone without formula, but it would have made all of us miserable.
As it was, it was much more fraught than it needed to be.

Aug. 07 2012 11:45 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

Working and nursing are very difficult. I was extremely fortunate in my working situation and my understanding boss. I have many friends and relatives who were not so lucky.

Aug. 07 2012 11:41 AM
Heather from Long Island City

Why then does the city and state suppliment formula but not breast pumps and acsessories?

Aug. 07 2012 11:41 AM
Elle from Brooklyn

I chose to breastfeed, and when I was in the hospital, I got plenty of help from the nurses during the day, but at night I was on my own. Even though I was told to call for help and did, no one ever came.

Aug. 07 2012 11:40 AM
Alexis from Brooklyn

Countering against the big advertising of formula companies to people with regular salaries and demanding careers and commutes....Breastfeeding has become a hugely commercialized marker of upper middle class identity and this move smacks of extending Bloomberg's gentrification to women's bodies. The expensive boppys and My Breast Friends sold at places like The Upper Breast Side (real products; real store) show that this is less about nourishing babies and more about proving your ubermom, well-heeled status.

Aug. 07 2012 11:39 AM

How do the new policies affect babies in NICU? My baby spent his first week in NICU, not because he was premature, but because I/he had a low-grade infection. Otherwise he was robust and healthy. The nurses there really pushed the formula anyway, and I felt they were applying rules/practices to my child based on the circumstances of the *other* babies in there, not mine. After a week of bottle-feeding, we never did successfully breastfeed.
By the way, the infection came from an unnecessary induction, which was based solely on my age.

Aug. 07 2012 11:36 AM

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