Having given birth twice at Cooley Dickinson Hospital in the past two years, I applaud their ongoing responsiveness to community input—in this case, by seeking certification as a Baby-Friendly hospital ("Going Baby-Friendly," May 14). But what I don't understand is how certification would make Cooley Dickinson more baby- (and mom-) friendly than they already are. My desire to breastfeed was supported enthusiastically by nurses and staff at the hospital. A lactation consultant stopped by to offer breastfeeding tips and—with permission—even hands-on coaching. Breastfeeding may be natural, but it ain't always easy. Yes, they handed me the formula company-sponsored diaper bag on my way out, but not before yanking the formula sample and coupons. I was left with a nifty free bag, a water bottle, and a budding sense of myself as a reasonably competent new breastfeeding mother. I like to think that another mom's choice to formula feed would have been supported with the free formula I rejected. Why restrict responsible and caring health providers by, for instance, forbidding formula companies to donate supplies or, as described in the article, forbidding any food or drink to infants other than breast milk unless deemed medically necessary? I'm glad that our community hospital is listening to the community. But I'm less sure of the use of an expensive certification process to a place as supportive, baby-friendly, and responsive to moms' needs as the birth center at Cooley Dickinson.
Maureen Turner's article about MomsRising of the Pioneer Valley, the political arm of MotherWoman ("The Next Phase of Feminism," May 14), describes a vibrant and important organization supporting and advancing the work of national MomsRising.org. We are delighted that Melanie DeSilva, Victoria Monroe and their colleagues are advancing the organization's agenda for a family-friendly nation locally. MomsRising of the Pioneer Valley has implemented innovative and interesting ways to support and expand upon our efforts at the local level, including hosting the first Western Massachusetts premiere screening of The Motherhood Manifesto, the movie outlining the MomsRising.org agenda. In just a few short years, the chapter has advocated successfully for the restoration of midwifery services to Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton; helped pass legislation to make breastfeeding in public a civil right in Massachusetts; and advocated for hospitals in Western Massachusetts to become baby-friendly, a World Health Organization and UNICEF designation. This last effort resulted in two local hospitals announcing their intention to achieve that designation.
Through MomsRising of the Pioneer Valley, MotherWoman has helped to organize parents in support of paid sick leave legislation in Massachusetts and helped to write and advocate for legislation that will mandate screening for postpartum depression in the state. We are truly honored to work with this active and impressive group and to have them as a chapter of MomsRising.org.