ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA) Everyone knows breast milk is best... but New York City's mayor is taking that slogan a big step forward.
"Most of the public health officials around the country think that this is a great idea," Bloomberg said.

His new initiative, Latch On NYC , will do much more than encourage breast feeding, it'll make formula feeding newborns in the hospital a little tougher. Hospitals that sign on will provide formula for medical reasons only, they'll keep track of the number of bottles used by moms, and they'll stop handing out free formula.

Nikki Killings, a mom of two who's expecting her third, is a Northern Virginia lactation consultant with the La Leche League. She's says it's about time hospitals stopped endorsing formula feeding with freebies which can thwart a mother's willingness to nurse her newborn.

"It can be detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship. When times get tough, in those first days of breastfeeding and you really don't have the support, and the information you should have had going into it...formula, in your free bag on the counter, from your OB or your pediatrician, is your fall back. "

Killings says she to had difficulty nursing with her first and was given supplements... but supplements can reduce the mother's own supply, and put an end to breastfeeding. She also says its confusing for new moms who may see the formula giveaways as an endorsement for the product over the breast.

"In those early days and hours, it is imperative that a mom keep her baby on the breast as much as possible to get her milk supply in," said Killings.

But other moms say Mayor Bloomberg's initiative will just make moms who can't breastfeed feel worse.

"A mother has enough pressure on her just having a new baby and giving birth for the first time. She shouldn't have to worry about explaining her choices," said a New York City mom.

Another said, "I don't think it should be something that is legislated by the government, obviously. The mother should have that choice."

"If they can do it, that's great and if they can't they can't. We're not making anybody do it. We're suggesting," said Bloomberg.

The new effort won't deny moms formula. They'll just have to hear about the benefits of breastfeeding before they receive it. So far, 27 out of 40 NYC hospitals have signed on.

No Washington-area hospital would say whether it has signed on for such an aggressive program. They all say they encourage breastfeeding but none would confirm whether they give away free formula.

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