The age-old arguments of breast milk over formula is a long one, but in NYC the battle of boob v bottle has been won hands down by the breast.
With the same zealous determination with which Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken on cigarettes, and sugary soft drinks, he’s now taken on infant formula. Started in early September, N.Y.s Nanny-in-chief is asking hospitals to play hide and seek with new Moms by locking away their baby formula to encourage Mothers to breast feed.
There was a time not so long ago when the thinking was quite different
Better For Baby Easier For You
Growing up in the 1950s I didn’t know anyone who was breast-fed.
The battle of Boob v Bottle was an old one by the time I was born and had been raging for over 50 years with doctors trying to persuade mothers to ditch natural breast-feeding for scientific formulas and sterilized bottles.
By the time I was born the battle had virtually been won hands down by the makers of baby formula.
Being a typical up-to-date-American baby, my very first mouthful of nourishment was a synthetic, sweetened bottle formula, sipped through a-its-so-life-like-just-like-mother-latex-rubber nipple. Talk about whetting your appetite for future petroleum-based products.
Spin the Bottle
While Mom was still groggy from the anesthesia after giving birth to me, a bouncy candy striper had handed her a colorful pamphlet (thoughtfully distributed by Carnation Milk) discouraging breast-feeding.
“Most young mothers wonder whether or not they should nurse their babies. You do not have to nurse your child. Scientific evidence today indicates that children who have never been nursed are just as healthy, sometimes more healthy, both physically and emotionally, as children who are nursed. If you are reluctant to nurse your child, if it makes you feel tense or uncomfortable do not attempt it.”
Why nurse baby when there were herds of Carnations contented cows more than willing to offer up their services. Breast feeding might be okay for Elsie the Cow, but not for my post-war mom.
To her surprise, Moms roommate who gently tossed the booklet aside, was quietly breast-feeding. Mom was bewildered. Why live in the dark ages when modern science and medical know how could make feeding so easy.
Besides which, the days of plump, matronly figures following childbirth were over. No longer did nursing mothers lay about sipping cocoa and eating rich cream soups to “make good milk”. Mama could begin her diet immediately.
After fluffing up Moms pillows, a lovely nurse, who bore a striking resemblance to Nurse Cherry Ames, dressed in a crisp white uniform her starched white cap perched on bouncing black curls, would bring me to Mom for my feeding.
Although Mom and I were housemates for over nine months, for the entire ten-day stay in the hospital, we were never roommates-my mother was in her room and I was in the nursery.
We wouldn’t be formally introduced for several hours, at which time I could look forward to my very first meal. After months of ordering in,-“womb service”- I was looking forward to my first home cooked meal outside the womb.
Any hopes of latching onto a breast and getting me some bone fide mothers milk were quickly dispelled.
Just What the Doctor Ordered
Doctors did little to encourage breast-feeding and why should they. Concocted by chemists in a lab, scientific baby formula was marketed as being as complicated as nuclear science and just as precise, so unless you had majored in bio-chemistry and physics, you would require detailed instructions from your doctor.
Since formula feedings needed the special skills only he could provide, the pediatrician elevated his position in the mother’s life, and in his bank account. Bottle-feeding formula became increasingly the norm, the relaxing, modern scientific, way. Feeding at fingertip control.
Better for baby, easier for you.