Earlier this week, news came out about a new study that analyzed the costs of our country's low breastfeeding rates. I first saw the news on Twitter which took me to the LA Times, but pretty much every major news station did a piece on it: CNN, ABC, etc. The CNN site quotes the study as saying,
"The United States incurs $13 billion in excess costs annually and suffers 911 preventable deaths per year because our breastfeeding rates fall far below medical recommendations."Wow. There were quite a few reactions to this news and I'll link to just a few.
Best for Babies analyzed the language in the ABC news article and discussed the way we talk about breastfeeding. Highly recommended reading.
The Feminist Breeder's article "When It Comes to Breastfeeding, We Can’t Handle The Truth" packs a punch and went so viral that her hosting service shut her site down for a while because of the traffic. She discusses the hot topic of breastfeeding guilt and the discussion in her comments is interesting. Again, I definitely recommend reading it.
Not soon after all this, I ran into this piece which mentions, "One 2004 AAP survey of pediatricians showed that 40 percent did not feel knowledgeable about breastfeeding. More than a third of pediatricians responding to the survey said they didn't receive any education about breastfeeding while in medical school or during residency." And these are the people we trust to give us good information about feeding our babies!
And then this morning, Margaret became famous in today's Matador Life article, "The Most Obscene Debate on the Internet." McKay would like me to clarify that he was the one that took the picture, so it should really say "Photo by McKay Farley" under Margaret's picture.
Both the Best for Babies and The Feminist Breeder articles reminded me of a couple of older articles I've read. The first is Jack Newman's Breastfeeding and Guilt. The second is the famous Watch Your Language article by Diane Wiessinger.
Those are issues I run into a lot on when writing about breastfeeding. I've received criticism in both comments and emails of how I refer to breastfeeding. When breastfeeding is "normal," then formula or other substitutes are "inferior." But that makes people feel guilty. But when breastfeeding is "best" or "ideal" suddenly it's a lofty, almost unattainable goal so breastmilk substitutes are seen as a "good enough" option. And unfortunately, according to that new study, it's not good enough for over 900 American babies a year. And I don't know what to do about it. I don't want to cause guilt, but I can't pretend formula and other substitutes will ever come close to breastmilk. I mean, can you imagine a company trying to put stem cells in formula? White blood cells?
I've also been considering what I've done/will do to help moms have access to breastfeeding information, support, and other mothers' milk. I do think breastmilk needs to be more accessible for moms who can't breastfeed. Unfortunately, milk banks are few and the cost is high- I've read $3/ounce!
Right now, I simply can't pump or donate any milk because I'm only making pregnancy colostrum (but apparently it's still yummy, as I'm currently NAKing). When Margaret was a newborn, there was a mom in our playgroup who was accepting breastmilk for her adopted son. She had induced lactation and used an SNS for months, but sometimes hormones just win out and she needed to supplement a lot. I feel terrible of how much of my milk ended up soaked in my bra and on our sheets, blankets, towels and carpet and I did nothing to collect it for her. I really should have, and I think if I have oversupply next time I'll do more to save it for someone who needs it. Maybe I'll invest in a pump.
Anyway, that was this week in breastfeeding along with some of my thoughts and guilt over not doing more. Tomorrow I have a post scheduled for the API Speaks Blog Carnival in which I talk about how breastfeeding a toddler is hard sometimes. No, it's not all roses and puppies. I haven't done a "How to UP/UC" post in a few weeks, but I have a couple more ideas. It all depends on whether I can find time to film another vlog.