Billions saved by breastfeeding? Show me the money!

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Lactivists claim that if more women breastfed, we could save billions of dollars in medical costs due to decreased illness and hospitalizations.

Dr. Tom Frieden from the CDC repeated this cherished maxim in a recent tweet:

Frieden breastfeeding billions

More than $2 billion in yearly medical costs for children could be saved if breastfeeding recommendations were met.

Really Dr. Frieden? Show me the money.

Surely we should have seen some savings by now, but we haven’t.

Breastfeeding initiation rates have risen from a nadir of 24% in the 1970’s to the current rate of over 76%. Surely we should have seen some savings by now, but we haven’t.

The truth is that there was never any reason to believe that we would save billions. That figure was conjured by professional lactivist Dr. Melissa Bartick.

In the 2010 paper The Burden of Suboptimal Breastfeeding in the United States: A Pediatric Cost Analysis Bartick “estimated” that the US could save 900 infant lives and $13 billion if 90% of US women breastfed. These numbers were grossly misleading since not even a single US term infant death (let alone 900 per year) had ever been attributed to not breastfeeding and since, to my knowledge, not a single dollar of savings had yet to be recorded. Moreover, Dr. Bartick invoked many benefits to breastfeeding that have never been proven, including childhood asthma, childhood leukemia, type 1 diabetes, and childhood obesity. Presumably Dr. Frieden’s claim about $2 billion dollars in savings is an extrapolation from Dr. Bartick’s “estimate.” She postulated a 90% breastfeeding rate; his claim is predicated on a lower rate. (The case may be different for preterm infants at risk for developing necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), but, as yet, that has not been demonstrated, either.)

Though Dr. Bartick’s claim has been quoted repeatedly, a review of the scientific literature fails to show any of the predicted cost savings. As far as I know, and I’m happy to be corrected, there is no evidence that there has been any healthcare savings. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that for term infants in first world countries, the benefits of breastfeeding are trivial: a slightly reduced incidence of colds and diarrheal illnesses in the first year of an infant’s life. Even if there were savings, they’d need to be balanced against the millions of dollars spent on breastfeeding each year (pumps, lactation consultants, etc.) as well as the tens of millions spent on to promoting breastfeeding

Perhaps that’s why Dr. Frieden failed to respond to my request for scientific evidence to support his claim.

The claim that billions of dollars in medical costs could be saved by increasing breastfeeding rates is yet another one of the many examples of overselling breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is one of two excellent ways to feed an infant, the other being formula. Those who claim increasing breastfeeding rates save billions need to show us the money.

The breastfeeding initiation rate has tripled in the past 50 years. Where are the cost savings?

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  • Julia B

    You know, considering that there are so many infants fed formula in the US, and that powdered infant formula is not sterile, and thus there is potential for food poisoning from improper infant formula preparation, I wondered if Dr Amy’s comment “not even a single US term infant death (let alone 900 per year) had ever been attributed to not breastfeeding” was somewhat oversimplified. And I had a bit of a poke around, and sure enough, powdered infant formula can be a vehicle for fatal bacterial infections in infants in high-income countries such as a the US, including term infants http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/infant-death-and-infant-formula-should-not-be-in-same-sentence-cronobacter-sakazakii/#.Vi9don6rTcs. Surely one of the advantages of breast milk is that it is not mixed with water, and is not contaminated at the source, therefore the risk of it being a vehicle for a bacterial infection, even in the US, is much smaller than for powdered infant formula? So the Cronobacter/Enterobacter cases would not have occurred if the infants had not been fed infant formula?


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  • Allie

    Let’s not engage with trolls. It takes the conversation in kind of a boring direction. People who present a different viewpoint are not trolls. People who say things that are deliberately meant to goad are trolls. The former should be welcomed. The latter ignored.

  • So

  • XOXO

    • AirPlant

      -Gossip Girl

      • No thats Dr Amy actually wrong person. Try again

    • Dr Kitty

      Dreah,
      Is this site really where you want to be?
      You ended up getting very upset last time.

      Just throwing it out that:
      A) you’re unlikely to win hearts and minds here
      B) you’re probably going to end up angry, hurt and upset by the comments, again, just like the last time.

      By all means, if you’re in it to win it, and on board with what will likely come at you in response to your comments, fine.

      However, if you’re feeling vulnerable and not up for some robust to-and-fro, maybe you should make a graceful exit now?

      Personally, I don’t see the appeal in having strangers make fun of me and my opinions, and try not to deliberately make it easy for them to do so, because I value my mental wellbeing, but you what makes you happy.

  • Dont get your panties in a bunch ladies. Its okay. If vaccines were so much needed (which they are not) then vaccines would be mandatory. Which they are not where I live. So be mad! Wont make or break my day. You can share links all day.

    • Box of Salt

      So Dreah, exactly which diseases which the US includes on the recommended vaccination schedule would you prefer your children to suffer through?

      Tell me exactly which diseases you think are safer than their vaccines.

      Think about it. Which disease “won’t make or break your day” when your child is ill with it?

    • fiftyfifty1

      “If vaccines were so much needed (which they are not) then vaccines would be mandatory.”

      Ah, so if the government had stronger vaccine mandates, then you would believe that vaccines were needed. Makes sense.

      • No, hun i wouldnt. Just like people dont give their kids peanuts, I dont give mine that serum be okay with it hun its okay.

        • Roadstergal

          Hun, do you know what serum is?

          • Do you?

          • Roadstergal

            Yes, I do. I’m an immunologist. But you used the word, so go ahead.

          • Good

          • Good 4 u might i add

          • Since yall like to be nit picky on here. Im glad im speaking ebonics cause boy would yall really would be blowing steam

          • Roadstergal

            Yes. Nit picky, like having words mean things. You’re talking about science and making health decisions for your kids without having a hint of a modicum of a clue about biology, only ‘don’t do what the gummint says, except for the breastfeeding thing, where you should totally do exactly that.’

            You and Donald Trump, equally anti-science and anti-vaccine.

          • demodocus

            Bless your heart, do you imagine we’re jumping on you ’cause that’s what crackers do?

          • What!

          • demodocus

            You were speaking ebonics for some reason, which has me confused. My apologies

          • Smh

          • Fallow

            Dreah is a crackpot, but I don’t think this comment is necessary or appropriate.

          • demodocus

            Sorry. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately. and I don’t understand why she’s typing in dialect

          • demodocus

            I’ll delete it

    • PrimaryCareDoc

      Dreah, get your head out of your ass and think about what happened the last time you were so sure you knew better than everyone else.

    • demodocus

      I lost my hearing to a mild childhood illness. My husband lost his sight. We deal with the consequences every day. You bet your buttons we took whatever vaccine “risks” you’re afraid of to make sure our boy doesn’t loose hearing, sight, or life.

  • The problem is mixing breastfeeding (which is natural) with unsafe vaccinations. Thats a bad combination. Thats why you haven’t seen any money saved.

    • Hilary

      Please tell me you’re joking?

      • Im actually so serious. Do you have a problem with that hilary?

        • Hilary

          Yes, I actually do have a problem with people willfully ignoring huge amounts of scientific evidence and making choices that endanger the health of my child.

          • If vaccines really work what are you worried about my kids for?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Because the way vaccines “work” depends on upon your actions and your kids.

            I don’t believe that you don’t know that. You aren’t that dumb.

          • No I am not but I ve had five children and my research stems from within my home. Not google.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Your research? Tell us about your “research”?

            Sadly, I fear my statement above is wrong.

          • AirPlant

            Your research? That you did in your home? With a sample size of five kids?
            That’s it, I’m out. I just found the stupidest thing I’m going to see all day and everything is coming to a grinding halt. Like I am at the point where I think google would be better and there is no just universe where that should be true.
            I need to hug a cat.

          • Go hug a cat.

          • demodocus

            My family research says children are never born blind, ’cause no one in my family ever has been. Well, then I married this guy whose mother caught rubella when she was pregnant and he’s congenitally blind.

          • RMY

            I’m really curious what is in your lab, at home. Do you do Western blot in your basement? I really want to know. Do you have all the reagents for ELISA in your garage? Have your neighbors suspected you of drug dealing because of the number of people coming and going for you double blind controlled studies?

          • Stop. Your taking my words out of context. Let me take a break I need to breastfeed my son.

          • RMY

            You don’t need to reply to me quickly at all, I’m not holding my breath. Take all the time you need.

          • Poogles

            How about your “research” on homebirth before you actually had one? We know that it did not inform you of the true risks of having a homebirth, especially with a non-nurse midwife, especially with twins.

            Why do you presume, then, that your “research” on vaccines is complete? That you are fully informed on the risks of refusing vaccines?

            I don’t know how to ask these questions without seeming harsh. I am so sorry for the loss of your daughter; I hope with all my heart you don’t lose another child, perhaps from a VPD.

          • Hilary

            Because herd immunity is part of how vaccines work. A certain number of people need to be immunized for maximum protection. Also, underimmunization from too many people needlessly refusing vaccination can actually cause the weakened vaccine virus to mutate and become capable of causing harm. Anti-vaxxers like to use vaccine mutations as evidence that vaccines are unsafe (do y’all think antibiotics are evil too?) but they are actually making those mutations worse by not vaxxing.

          • Stoop it! Thats what the government told you.

          • Hilary

            Whose government? The WHO is an international organization. You know, they’re those people who recommend breastfeeding for 2 years and had an arbitrary optimum c-section rate for a while.

            http://www.who.int/features/qa/64/en/ : “It takes a long time for a cVDPV (circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus) to occur. Generally, the strain
            will have been allowed to circulate in an un- or under-immunized
            population for a period of at least 12 months. […] Hence, the problem is not with
            the vaccine itself, but low vaccination coverage. If a population is
            fully immunized, they will be protected against both vaccine-derived and
            wild polioviruses.”

            Do you trust the WHO when they recommend breastfeeding and reducing c-section rates, but not when they talk about vaccines?

          • RMY

            I worry about your kids because I feel strongly that children shouldn’t needlessly suffer or die for for their parents’ beliefs. Especially when those beliefs are without any logical or scientific merit.

            I don’t have kids yet, much less a child too young to be vaccinated,. I am not immunocompromised. I’m not allergic to vaccines or any components of. I am trying to get pregnant but am not yet as far as I know, during pregnancy a woman’s immune system is weakened and rubella is well known for causing fetal death and horrible birth defects. If any of these were true, which they undoubtedly are for some, people do do have a reason to care of you vaccinated your children or not.

          • Dont feel sorry for my kids honey.

          • Roadstergal

            I have to. They have a nutter anti-intellectual conspiracy theorist as a mom. I got terribly lucky, having a loving mom who actually took the time and effort to get her PhD in molecular biology and who taught me and my sibs the importance of knowledge and critical thinking, rather than Bill Maher style pseudo-knowledge and denialism.

          • Bye

          • Fallow

            If they die of tetanus, will we be allowed to feel sorry for them then?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Because some babies are too young to be vaccinated, and at the same time they are the ones at highest risk of problems from many diseases (e.g. whooping cough).

            And because there is a small percentage of people with slightly atypical immune systems who don’t become immune to a certain vaccine, even when they have had all their shots. I’m a good example. I have always been very healthy and I have had all my shots. My blood tests show that I have great immunity to all the diseases I was vaccinated against except that I’m not immune to mumps. I’m a doctor. I got myself another booster of mumps and retook the test but I’m still not immune. It’s a fluke. With good herd immunity it’s not a problem. Without herd immunity it is a problem.

          • Hilary

            And people who have real medical contraindications to being vaccinated, whose health is often particularly fragile.

          • Bugsy

            Yep. My second son is due any day now, right at the start of flu season. His first shots will be late Dec/early Jan, and he will be ineligible for the flu vaccine this season. We’ve done what we can to protect him – the rest of the family is fully vaccinated – but it’s infuriating that he could pick up a VPD from other kids/families who *choose* not to vaccinate. It’s not fair to my son nor to the thousands of other infants in the same position.

          • Roadstergal

            It’s such a small thing to do. A little needle stick, to do me some good and everyone around me some good. It might well be that ‘least you can do’ thing for your community.

          • AirPlant

            I don’t know dude, my arm is sore and nobody gave me a sucker. It is pretty tragic.

          • Bugsy

            Lol…I didn’t get a sucker, either. Our preschooler was pretty sad when daddy and I got our T-daps last month and he wasn’t eligible for a band-aid as well!

          • demodocus

            Our ped doesn’t offer candy, just stickers

          • AirPlant

            I asked our work nurse for a sucker and she said I should be grateful for the free flu shot. :-/

          • Roadstergal

            Our work nurse did a little too much ‘mama nature’ for me not to be creeped out. But she gave me the dizam flu shot, so I’ll deal.

          • demodocus

            My sister’s vaccinations aren’t terribly effective when she’s immune suppressed. But thanks for suggesting she should just die of whooping cough ’cause eugenics or something.

      • Bugsy

        In all fairness to the OP, my guess is most of us would agree that unsafe vaccinations are dangerous; that statement makes perfect sense. Unfortunately for the OP, modern research and legitimate studies show that modern vaccines are neither unsafe nor dangerous.

        (Written from the perspective of a happily & completed vaccinated family.)

    • Charybdis

      You’re kidding, right?

    • Ash

      Dreah–do you ever wonder why you never had schoolmates that were out of school for months because of polio?

      • nope

        • Ash

          “In 1952 alone, nearly 60,000 children were infected with the virus; thousands were paralyzed, and more than 3,000 died”

          I am a young person. I don’t know anyone my age who had polio. I only know 1 person that I’ve actually met in person who has had polio (as a result, they cannot walk very well and have had to use a walker for decades).

          Baby boomers in the US certainly knew of children their age affected by polio.

          Why do you think that is?

        • Fallow

          As a child, I had a teacher who had a nonfunctional left arm and left leg, due to polio. There are still many living survivors of American polio. If you haven’t noticed, it’s probably because you’re too self-centered to pay attention.

          But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few places where you can still get polio, all-natural. If it’s no big deal, I’m sure you’ll buy your entire family plane tickets: http://www.polioeradication.org/Dataandmonitoring.aspx

      • Hilary

        And then showing up in wheelchairs or with leg braces?

    • Roadstergal

      Hey, now. Breastfeeding is just what the government told you to do. The same CDC that tells you to vaccinate! Wake up, sheeple!

      • Government did tell me to breastfeed. Wth!

        • Roadstergal

          And you believed them! Oh noes!

  • LizzieSt

    This generation born post c. 2005, the most breast-milk-drinking generation in 100 years, had better be the healthiest, fittest, smartest, best generation this planet has ever seen, for all the hoopla, advocacy, and hectoring there is around breast-feeding. Otherwise I demand a refund of all funds spent. Then we can use that money for, I don’t know, better schools and more equitable access to health care, or something.

    • demodocus

      My poor formula fed nephew will automatically be at the bottom of the food chain with all these glorious, shiny eyed super children.

      • LizzieSt

        The Milk-fed Aristocracy!

    • Linden

      Breastfeeding rates are way up, yet we’re told there is an obesity/diabetes/heart disease epidemic. It’s almost as though the former has negligible effect on the latter… NO, it must be because we’re not breastfeeding hard enough to overcome the effect of poverty, unhealthy environments and unequal medical access.

      • LizzieSt

        Also, so many kids (often the most-breastfed ones) suddenly have wheat and milk and egg allergies. How the heck did that happen?

  • yentavegan

    When breastfeeding became a public health initiative I was offered to interview for a job with our local board of health. The goal of this job was to promote and teach breastfeeding to the otherwise under-served community. I was told that due to liability issues I could not bring my own nursing infant with me. WHAT? So the government expected me to farm out my infant so that another mother (less privileged) could breastfeed hers. Thanks but no thanks. I was not cashing in my privilege. Guess that makes me elitist.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Wow. Your prospective employer missed the point a bit.They’re probably off somewhere now puzzling over why more women don’t breastfeed.

    • fiftyfifty1

      Being able to turn up your nose at a good job because you don’t want to “farm out your infant” is the very definition of cashing in on your privilege, actually.

  • ???????????

  • nomofear

    OT, possibly of interest to folks here – looks like one of the rare occasions where midwives are a better solution, at least until there’s better hospital infrastructure http://momastery.com/blog/2015/10/21/love-flash-mob-global/

    • fiftyfifty1

      Is it though? I mean they claim it is better, but are their outcomes actually better than at the local public hospital? They deride the public hospital as cold and like a prison, but I would rather have that if morbidity and mortality are lower.

      • nomofear

        I don’t know how to find out, but the description of having to send a family member to a pharmacy for an IV, alone, makes me think it’s probably not. Based on all I read about this, these women running the center in Haiti are pro-technology, not like these weirdo CNMs elsewhere who advise against sonograms. Ultimately, the best thing would be to fix the hospitals, but if we have trouble doing that for women in remote/poor parts of the U.S., imagine the difficulties inherent to such a project in Haiti.

        On the other hand, I’m keeping an eye out, because there was already a midwives’ assistant on the Facebook comments talking about her boss doing homebirths for mostly black women in the Detroit area, and all the expected stuff about black women’s higher mortality – but we, here, know that the answer to that is NOT homebirth, but fixing the structural issues in the health care / insurance system. Even these women in Haiti aren’t wanting to homebirth!

        • fiftyfifty1

          ” the description of having to send a family member to a pharmacy for an IV, alone, makes me think it’s probably not.”

          This actually can be standard practice in low resource settings. You can read Jeevan’s blog, The Learner (linked on the right), for more examples. Families are sent out for supplies and provide most of the basic bedside caring. This is an expected and accepted part of how things work. Hospitals aren’t large enough or well funded enough to keep a stockpile of certain supplies on hand, and if they do give out supplies for free in the moment, they will have no way of getting their money back to buy new ones.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            And, to get back to the point, how would midwives improve upon that? Would midwives carry necessary medications? Or would they just send the family to the pharmacy for everything?

            Or would they just skip the medicines? Because, you know, that would be better….right?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Well, the midwives in question are American CPMs running a faith-based charity birthing center in Haiti. Their web site shows a lot of fundraising. It’s quite possible that their birthing center is better funded than the public hospital and so may be able to provide supplies for free.

            But the point to get back to is that they still can’t do things like forceps, vacuum, CS, pitocin, blood transfusions etc. They are still not medical professionals. Their birthing center may be lovely and cozy and the handholding, Chux pads, and IV fluids may be free. But how does that save lives?

            When the shit hits the fan, I bet this birthing center transfers to that hospital they say is so nasty. Does the hospital ever need to transfer to the birthing center? No.

          • nomofear

            I love this place! Seriously, you all are the best sounding board.

    • Lawyer jane

      I just skimmed this, but is there a connection between the birth center and orphanage? Given all the issues with international adoption that raises concerns. Also I wish they had offered the 15 year old the option of an abortion. It is entirely possible that the midwife clinic is providing better care than the hospital but this is an entirely different country and setting so I don’t think we can come to any conclusions.

  • Amazed

    What a day! I was looking for a body lotion in the pharmacy. Of course, it was at the cosmetic section. Imagine your faithful Amazed going through containers of all sizes and shapes. At one point, I see a big container. Great, I think, it’ll last me for months. I reach for it and almost topple over the entire shelf. The thing was bigger than I expected. It wasn’t a lotion at all. It was formula. Cans of formula hidden between tons of bloody massage creams. Why was that? When I asked, I was told that this was where accesories and women’s “indulgencies” were placed.

    Fast forward a few hours. A woman I’ve known since Adam and know to be very intelligent has recently discovered the wonders of All Natcherel and oversold vaccines. You know, the diseases we vaccinate against aren’t so deadly. They only became so in the last 50 years or so when we lost our immunity to them. Well, I say, what are you going to say about this famous poet of ours who wrote about the “yellow visitor” and later died from it? I sit back, sure that I have made my case. Silly me! She leans backward and easily says, Oh, he was a poet. He was obliged to be dramatic.

    I repeat: a hundred years ago, this young man died of something that can now be prevented. But you know, this was all just drama. Feel free not to read the rest of this post since it’s a (very awkward) try to translate a part of the poem for you. Please don’t tell me that it sucks. I know it. I am a worse poet than I am a cook – and that’s saying something!

    In a cellar gloomy there
    – gloomy, like a doom of slave.

    Old and wrinkled slip of woman keeps a vigil over bed.

    Eyes meet eyes, so veiled in pain

    And in rapture of black sorrow

    For the spectre they survey – unexpected and unknown.

    And in fact, so closely known.

    In the gloomy cellar light that’s the last time she’ll meet
    night.

    Silent souls know it,
    right; and the pair are both aware

    That a spectre is sitting there.

    Spectre of power, spectre of death, spectre of icy smile and
    net.

    now carves a black reflection for the girl of pale
    complexion.

    THAT was what a vaccine-preventable disease looked like in 1922. But you know, it’s just drama. It cannot happen to us. It never happened.

    WTF?

    We cannot trust studies because they’re not well-designed if they show anything different than Breast Rules. Better hide them where only indulgent woment can find them. We cannot trust people who DIDN’T live through deadly diseases because they lived on drama, literally. But we should trust Dr Bartick’s tiptoeing around the matter in the comment section of her article.

    Again, WTF?

    • SporkParade

      I would complain to corporate. Please complain to corporate.

      • Amazed

        I will.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym

      Formula is an indulgence? Specifically a WOMAN’S indulgence? Because men never want to feed their kids or what? For that matter, do men never use lotion? What a strange store.

      • Amazed

        Worse than a store. It was a pharmacy. By definition, somewhere where they should know better. Makes me wonder what happened to that prospective law from a few years ago that the only ones allowed to sell in a pharmacy should be people with the respective education.

        Men’s cosmetics was on another set of shelves.

      • Who?

        Probably for the helpmeets of men who ‘babysit’ their own children.

      • AirPlant

        My husband’s skin is OMG SO DRY and he refuses to use lotion because he thinks it is girly so… maybe?

    • Anna

      It sucks when someone you knew as adequate goes weird all of a sudden. But didn’t you know? People never died of preventable ilnesses, babies never died, women never died in labor. Everyone was robust and healthy because everything was NATURAL. And books like Gone with the Wind, Wuthering Heights, Farewell to Arms and many others are just fruits of sick fantasy of the authors. Melany, Catherine and Katherine died not because it was common those days, but because the authors wanted to make the plot more dramatic.

      • Amazed

        And Rachel from the Bible. I wonder who the drama writer we have to blame this for is.

    • Empliau

      I think you underestimate your skills as a poet/translator of poetry. I really enjoyed this – it was very moving.

      • Anna

        Yes, I did too.

        • Amazed

          Thank you. I do hope you aren’t just being kind. It’s incredible how the things the author said correspond to what my grandfather said (he’s seen two siblings dying from the disease that is, sadly, still a problem here, although, of course, not nearly as great as it used to be.)

      • Amazed

        Thanks. I feel I cannot do the poem justuce, particularly since I’m translating from my mother’s tongue. It’s incredible – the description of the yellow fingers, the inability to breathe, the yellow spectre sitting on a funeral cart outside… And then, the death while just beyond the window linden-trees spray their scent and people hurry up and down, enjoying spring. The dedication says, “To tobacco-workers, the countless slavewomen of the Yellow Queen – Tuberculosis”.

        Ah, dramatic licenses! As the posts above clearly demonstrate. After all, the poster is alive to conduct “studies” with a sample of five. The author of the poem lost his life at 25 to the Yellow Visitor (that’s the title). She clearly knows better!

  • Hilary

    Someone needs to point out that the children with the highest medical costs are often unable to breastfeed. (The medical problems cause the inability to breastfeed, not the other way around.) 40% of Medicaid spending goes to the care of medically complicated children (roughly 6% of kids on Medicaid).

    • Sarah

      Trick question, there’s no such thing as a child who can’t breastfeed. See, problem solved.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        Of course there are children who can’t breastfeed: persistent vegatative state, cleft palate, muscle weakness, I could go on and on.

        • KeeperOfTheBooks

          I could be wrong here, but I took Sarah’s comment as sarcasm, not as a serious observation.

          • Sarah

            Yep.

        • fiftyfifty1

          ” persistent vegatative state, cleft palate, muscle weakness, I could go on and on.”

          And even then the hardcore lactivists will deny.

          Lactivists love to trumpet stories of babies with cleft palate who were breastfed anyway. And of course muscle weakness just needs a little craniosacral therapy (I just happen to have a friend who only charges $100 per session!!!). And who can forget the one posting by the mom who got all indignant when the hospital staff wouldn’t let her express milk into the mouth of her unresponsive, no-swallow-reflex newborn who had severe HIE from her disaster homebirth. See? A vegetative state need not be a barrier to a successful breastfeeding relationship!

          Pretty soon, breastmilk will bring babies back from the dead I’m sure.

          • Chi

            Ugh craniosacral therapy is a load of crap. In my desperation to breastfeed (thanks to the lactivism hype) I took my daughter to an osteo for that. The osteo rubbed her head and then told me I needed to wait a couple of hours before feeding again to allow the treatment to ‘sink in’.

            She also told me that I needed to cut out caffeine (what the hell? That was all that was keeping me going then) and that my daughter needed probiotics. Well all they did was make her refluxy and projectile vomit like a CHAMP.

            So I have no respect for these people who prey on vulnerable new mums by saying they can ‘fix’ their inability to breastfeed. Either with supplements, pumps, tongue-tie releases, craniosacral therapy. The list goes on and on. It’s disgusting. It’s as bad as those who sell ‘all natural’ cancer and autism ‘cures’.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Exactly. They use this tactic for everything. Women NEVER have low supply. Babies NEVER have problems extracting breastmilk. You will NEVER grow a baby too big for your pelvis.
        (..and if these things do somehow come to pass despite the fact that they can’t, you brought it on yourself).

      • Michelle

        Absolutely! If your milk supply is low, you just need to make sure you breastfeed every 90 minutes, pump after every nursing session (don’t worry, you’ll still have about half an hour to wash your pump, change your baby’s diaper, and start nursing again), take expensive supplements for increasing milk supply, and set alarms throughout the night to wake up and breastfeed. If this regime makes your nipples sore, you can cure the soreness by rubbing breastmilk on them. On the other hand, if you have a baby who is unable to breastfeed for some reason, you can simply become an exclusive pumper. Any breastfeeding problem can be easily handled without switching to formula ^_~

        • Sarah

          There’s no such thing as low supply either. Or there is, but it’s incredibly rare and it can’t possibly have happened to you.

          • Chi

            Oh but what if the poor wee bubby is the one having the trouble? Have you checked for tongue tie?

            *sigh* it’s just a morass of hypocrisy with these people which is why I’m trying to disengage. It just makes me so mad to see lactivists and anti-vaxxers spouting their nonsense with NO real credible science to back it up.

  • Valerie

    OT, but I’m curious if anybody here knows anything about over-the-counter contraceptive methods and the affordable care act. When I, as a non-lawyer, non-insurance-expert, read the FAQs and online materials about the ACA, it seems abundantly clear that all plans must provide coverage for the 18 FDA-approved categories of female contraception without any cost-sharing. This specifically names female condoms, spermicides, sponges, and emergency contraception, which are available OTC (but a doctor can write a prescription for them). My plan will not cover them (and is not exempt based on grandfathered status). Is this a violation? What resources do I have if it is?

    • Amy

      I’m not a lawyer, but it DOES sound like a violation. I’d say maybe get in touch with your state board of health or if there’s some sort of state insurance oversight board.

      • Valerie

        Thanks- I’m running out of avenues to turn to. Nobody within my organization is able to give me a clear answer, and I’m having trouble figuring out the appropriate agency to report to if it comes to that.

  • mostlyclueless

    Yes, breastfeeding is a great way to save money, as long as you value a woman’s time at $0 per hour. Also, if you have a magic machine that produces breastmilk out of good intentions rather than out of additional food a breastfeeding mother must consume, which is still not free here on planet Earth where I live.

    • PenFox

      Totally agree with you. I once did the math on my out-of-pocket costs related to breastfeeding:

      A breastfeeding mom needs to consume about 500 calories more per day than a non-breastfeeding mom, and women are advised to make these healthy calories (see http://www.llli.org/nb/nbmarapr04p44.html). I was never so hungry in my life as I was when I was breastfeeding. Food costs money, and healthy food costs more money than junk food. 500 calories in produce, healthy dairy, grains and meats is not cheap. Cost of living varies dramatically by location, but the cost of 500 extra healthy calories a day, especially with a varied diet, could easily be $3-5/day. (See http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/a-high-price-for-healthy-food/). (When I break down my weekly grocery bill, I spend around $4 per 500 calories, judging by the total number of meals we get out of a week’s groceries). When I supplemented for my son and used the fancy ready to pour formula, I spent 19 cents an ounce, which comes out to $5.70/day for 30 ounces. Powdered formula starts around 10 cents an ounce, which comes out to $3.00/day for 30 ounces. (The cost of consuming extra calories is why breastfeeding mothers on WIC are entitled to “an enhanced food package,” although I hear that it comes nowhere close to covering the cost of the extra food.)

      Then, there are costs to breastfeeding that many people will say are “optional,” but which are very hard to avoid if (a) you have any difficulties breastfeeding (very common), (b) you work, (c) or if you want anyone else to be able feed the baby (coming back to mostlyclueless’s point about valuing a mother’s time).

      If you work or DH wants to feed the baby, you have to buy bottles and incur the same costs of buying bottles (and spend the same time sterilizing/cleaning them) as a formula-feeding mom.

      If you work or want someone else to feed the baby (and possibly for other reasons, such as oversupply, mastitis, etc.) you’ll need to incur the cost of a breast pump, and while a single manual breast pump works, what you really need in order to pump 3+ times a day is a double electric pump. Some insurance companies in the US cover these pumps, but for those who don’t have such coverage, $200-$400 is a big outlay.

      I tried all of the methods for rigging a “free” setup for a double pumping bra, but couldn’t get it to work. So I bought a hands free double pumping bra, which cost me $50.

      I tried to use my normal bras while breastfeeding at the beginning, but I needed a nursing bra so that I could keep a nursing pad on one side while feeding from the other and to make it easier to nurse outside the home. After trying all of the inexpensive nursing bras I could find, I ended up finding that only the more expensive ones were comfortable. It’s not unreasonable for 3-4 quality nursing bras to cost $160 total (and you’ll need that many if you need a daytime bra, a nighttime bra, and one extra of each to rotate through for laundry).

      Although considered “optional,” I don’t know a single breastfeeding mom that doesn’t use a breastfeeding pillow for some period of time at the beginning. I tried to breastfeed without one, but had a lot of difficulty. I ended up buying two different kinds (setting me back $80+ total), but most breastfeeding moms will buy at least one breastfeeding pillow. It’s great if you can borrow one or get one used, but a new one will set you back $40 (not to mention the cost of an extra cover for when LO pukes all over it!)

      I had HUGE challenges with breastfeeding. I took advantage of the hospital lactation consultants and breastfeeding class, and the assistance of all of the awesome postpartum nurses, while I was in the hospital (ranked one of the top 2 hospitals for obstetrics in the country, and consistently rated a very baby friendly hospital), but they were so over-taxed that I couldn’t get enough help. I needed three postpartum lactation consultant visits (and a lot of patience and tears) to get breastfeeding to work (I also made appointments with my son’s pedi, my OB and my midwife for breastfeeding help and engaged the help of a pedi in the family and my mother, who successfully breastfed her kids). That cost me 3x$160, or $480.

      In order to pump 3x a day at work, I needed multiple sets of breastpump flanges, connectors and valves. Some people have facilities where it is easy to clean pump parts, but that wasn’t possible at my place of work without the extra sets. That cost me $100.

      If you pump, you’ll need to store the milk somehow. Lansinoh storage bags cost me about fifty cents per bag, and I probably went through at least 200 of them. $100.

      If you’re unlucky like me and had trouble with your supply after weeks and weeks of difficulty latching, then you’ll spend money on things trying to increase your supply. I won’t include the cost of things like lactation cookies and oatmeal here because those should count in the 500 extra calorie day calculation above, but I spent aroundfifty cents a day on fenugreek capsules, fenugreek recipes and mother’s milk tea. I didn’t try reglan, but it would have been even more expensive.

      And don’t forget things like nipple ointment ($8) and nursing pads ($20).

      So, for me, I incurred just shy of $1300 in non-recurring breastfeeding-specific expenses (this excludes the cost of bottles), PLUS the recurring expenses of feeding myself an extra 500 calories per day in fruit, vegetables, low-fat dairy, high quality protein and whole grains and consuming mother’s milk supplements– totaling another $4.10/day. Over the first six months of my DS’s life, breastfeeding cost me a little over $2,000 in total expenses that I would not have incurred if I had never even tried.

      • mostlyclueless

        Excellent points. Also, this might just be a rich white lady problem that other people managed to get around, but I basically had to buy a new wardrobe to be able to discreetly breastfeed. I haven’t worn a non-v-neck shirt in over 2 years.

      • Megan

        Yes!! I figured out my cost of breastfeeding once too. It was around $5000. It’s disingenuous to call that free.
        Dr. Fried’s logic reminds me of when I was 8 years old and my father took me to the horse races. I placed a bet on a horse and that horse won third place. I went to the window to collect my winnings and exclaimed to my Dad that I’d won $10 (don’t remember the figure now, but let’s just make one up). He said, “No, you didn’t, you won $5 because we paid $5 to place the bet.” We argues about it for hours until I finally realized that he was talking about net winnings. Apparently Dr. Fried doesn’t understand the “net winnings” of breastfeeding…

        • PrimaryCareDoc

          He considers it to be free because the health care system isn’t paying for our new clothes, nursing bras, milk storage bags, breast pads, lanolin, Mother’s Milk tea, and fenugreek. Up until recently, it wasn’t paying for a breast pump or lactation consultants, either.

          Off the top of my head, when trying to increase my supply to feed my younger son, I spent at least $300 on a Medela pump, $80 a month to rent a hospital grade pump when that didn’t do the trick, and at least $300 on lactation consultant visits. Not to mention time lost from seeing patients while taking numerous pump breaks a day. Let’s say 4 patient visits lost a day- that’s about $500/day.

          So yeah, free. Right.

          • Megan

            I guess it’s our “breastfeeding deductible.”

          • Toni35

            Funny you mention that. With baby number three, born in 2012, I was on my own wrt purchasing a pump. I spent $40 for a single electric pump at a big box store, and while it wasn’t the fanciest in the world, it suited my needs (sahm, no supply issues). Fast forward to 2015, when my fourth child was born and, yes the ACA made my insurance co provide a pump for me, and a nice one at that (fancy double electric job). Probably more pump than I really need, but I figured, great I just saved $40! The difference? In 2012 my copy for L&D was $150. In 2015 my copy for L&D was $350. Seems I paid for that “free” pump after all. I would have been far and away better off being on my own for a $40 pump. Thanks bam bam.

        • Kelly

          I am not going into details but I am sure it cost at least as much as it would have to formula feed. I ate so much more food and food for me was more expensive than food for my baby.

          • Amy M

            Well, we bought a case of formula/month, from BJs, at about 160$. So somewhere between 1750-1900$ we spent on formula, but that was for two babies. So divided in half…880-950$ in formula/baby. We had to get bottles too, but many of those were gifts. It probably came out to 1K/baby to formula feed for a year.

          • Kelly

            That is about what I have figured to formula feed give or take. We get ours from Sam’s Club because it is the cheapest and my child is thriving. My mom made a good point when I was lamenting the cost of formula and she told me that that thousand dollars would not be a lot in the long run as it would be well worth it to save my sanity.

          • Sarah

            I reckon I spend about £550 for the first year, all in. That’s with some premade. So that’s in the same ball park as you.

            Now I might’ve been one of those mothers who only ever feeds from the tap, never needs breast pads etc. So breastfeeding might have cost less in that respect. Or I might have had supply issues and needed a posh pump plus bottles etc, leaked for months, had enough breast growth to require new bras, spent money travelling to places where I could get help etc. Both things are possible.

            Now I don’t really care whether formula is dearer anyway, because not having had to do all the nightfeeds (or indeed any at all for the first month) is priceless. But it might not be anyway. Additionally, the costs associated with formula have the advantage of being relatively evenly spread, and thus easier to budget for if that’s a concern. Whereas those associated with breastfeeding are more front loaded, no pun intended. So while it might be cheaper to spend £200 on a pump that helps your supply, thus allowing you to establish feeding and continue for X years, that’s no help if you only have £10 to spend on feeding the baby this week.

          • Megan

            I know it cost more for me than formula feeding. Pumping, nursing and supplementing for me was the “worst of both worlds.”

          • PrimaryCareDoc

            Yup. So true. One of my best days was when I went to all formula.

          • Kelly

            I have thought back to why I tried to hard to pump for my first child and I have realized a part of me was trying to prove that we could have a child on our salary. Pumping and cloth diapers were all about saving money for me and not about being all natural. I was so jealous of people who could “afford” to feed their children formula. I wish I knew then what I know now and quit and gave my child formula and saved myself the time and trouble. People need to see these costs for everyone and decide if breastfeeding would really work for them financially depending on how they got that breast milk out.

      • Trixie

        Consider that for the most vocal BF advocates, BF generally came easy and therefore was not particularly expensive. I was home anyway, and had an easy time nursing. I wore mostly the same bras I needed in pregnancy, got the pillow at my baby shower, and had a $30 hand pump. Lansinoh bags are about 13 cents each on Amazon. I never leaked and didn’t need nursing pads.
        If I didn’t have a penchant for fancy Swedish nursing shirts it would have been basically almost free for me.
        I’m not disputing your numbers, just pointing out that it’s easy for many to assume that because it was very cheap for them, it’s very cheap for everyone. Lactivists assume that it was their moral superiority that made it easy, and that’s not the case.

        • crazy grad mama

          The most vocal BF advocate I know had a really hard time with it, and now thinks that since *she* struggled through it, all other women have to or else they’re “selfish.” She told me it was “insulting” to suggest that her kid would’ve been fine on formula.

          I found it pretty easy and cheap, like you, but definitely not free.

          • Who?

            The martyrs are alive and well, and their badges are oh so shiny.

          • SporkParade

            Same here. She actually became a lactation consultant and started a blog whose theme is very clearly, “All breastfeeding problems can be solved with more breastfeeding.” She even interpreted the study that showed that women who want to breastfeed and don’t have higher rates of PPD to mean that breastfeeding reduces the incidence and severity of PPD. Of course, she didn’t look at the part where women who want to feed formula and don’t ALSO have higher rates of PPD…

          • Sarah

            That’s not a surprise. It’s well documented that when human beings have suffered to do something, they’re more likely to value it highly. If it doesn’t really matter much anyway, which it doesn’t, there’s no point in struggling to breastfeed unless it’s something the mother particularly wants to do for whatever reason.

      • Michelle

        Wow, that’s quite a lot of breastfeeding expenses! @_@ I think it would be impossible for a expectant mother (especially a first-time mom) to be able to know which feeding method will be cheaper. The cost of breastfeeding varies SO MUCH depending on how hard of a time you have, and how lactating affects your appetite. The cost of formula also varies a lot depending on what kind of formula your baby needs. My firstborn drank the cheapest generic formula from Sam’s Club, that costed about $2/day. My fourth daughter couldn’t handle regular formula and got grumpy about an hour or two after every feeding, so her doctor suggested switching her to corn-based formula. She did better on the corn-based formula, but that wasn’t sold at Sam’s Club, and at our local store it costed about $10/day!! Yikes.

    • Trixie

      I feel like for me, I did most of my eating while pregnant and then they sucked the calories back off of me. I never kept track, but I don’t think I ate much more.

      • Toni35

        This was my experience as well. With my first two children I was overweight before I got pregnant, ravenously hungry while pregnant (so I gained a tad more than the 25-35 lbs recommended) so while breastfeeding my appetite tanked and I went back to pre-preg consumption (and lost all the baby weight, plus a bit more, by the time they weaned). With number 3 and 4 I started out at a “normal” weight, got ravenously hungry during pregnancy (again), exceeded the recommended gain (again, lol) and was able to go back to pre-preg intake levels right away. My youngest is 2.5 months old right now, and I’m eating the same as pre-preg and losing .5-1 lb per week (nice, steady, sustainable loss). Adding 500 cal per day, for me, would make returning to pre-preg weight impossible (15 lbs to go). It might even make me gain weight. I think the 500 cal per day refers to the amount women burn (on average) while bfing, and while some will need additional calories to keep from losing too much (or too fast) most don’t need to add calories at all; at least not if we want to get back to pre-preg weight.

        And even if you do need extra calories, yes, they should come from “healthy” food, but they don’t need to come from trendy “health” food… I can come by 500 calories in the form of a cup of milk, 1/4 lb of ground beef, and an apple for less than a buck. Maybe not trendy health food, but certainly more nutritious than 500 calories of chips, pop, and candy (and cheaper than chips, pop, and candy too!). My interpretation of the need to make healthy choices for those extra calories some women might need during nursing is just that they don’t want you to eat 500 calories worth of nutritionally weak “junk” foods, not that the calories need to come from organic kale, grass fed beef, and wild caught salmon…

    • indigosky

      My formula feeding cost less than my best friend’s breastfeeding. I think I spent about $1K over a year, she spent nearly $10K due to her lost wages (independent consultant).

  • Kesiana

    On the one hand, breastfeeding does have major benefits for kids who were born preterm.

    On the other, it’s taken a whole lot more than breastmilk to bring the preemie survival rate to where it is today… and the costs associated with that kind of medical care might make any savings related to BF approach “drop in the bucket” levels.

    • AirPlant

      Any it is not like they feed premies straight breastmilk, they reduce and fortify the shit out of it until it is science milk.

    • Hilary

      And most preemies are not actually *breastfeeding* but drinking pumped breast milk by bottle or tube, either from their mothers or (pasteurized) from donors. I kind of doubt there are huge cost savings in human milk banking!

      • Kesiana

        True!! I hadn’t even thought of donor milk, and either way, pumping supplies are REALLY freaking expensive… and the procedure to make it into “science milk” like AirPlant mentioned probably isn’t cheap either.

        It’s still SUPER important for babies in the NICU to get all the extra antibodies they can, but the needs of a full-term baby are going to be quite different.

        (Yet my mom still got mad when I mentioned how unimportant breastfeeding is, because she had to wean me much sooner than I wanted to; apparently I made my severe displeasure known. I can’t help but think that in my case, I was just mad about the change in how I was fed… or the new tastes.)

        • Hilary

          Yeah, I didn’t mean to dispute the value of breast milk for preemies (mainly because it reduces risk of NEC) just the idea that it’s a cost-saver. I pumped around the clock for my little boy in the NICU (and then the nurses added formula to it anyway).

          You want to talk expensive – my son got Synagis, which costs $8000+ for the full series of shots (paid for by insurance). Of course, if I had realized that exclusive breastfeeding and handwashing would prevent RSV, I wouldn’t have needed to “sacrifice my helpless baby on the altar of bioengineering” (http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/the-scary-side-of-synagis/). Silly me!

          • Liz Leyden

            My 18-month-old daughter is getting a second round of Synagis this year, thanks to her congenital heart defect. Fortunately, since I’m an RN, they’re letting me give it to her at home, instead of using a visiting nurse. I can sleep better knowing I saved the state a tiny bit of money.

          • Hilary

            We’re applying for a second round but expecting to be turned down by insurance.

        • Roadstergal

          “It’s still SUPER important for babies in the NICU to get all the extra antibodies they can”

          Not to be pedantic, but the protective substance(s) in breast milk are still under active investigation. I’d be surprised if it’s the IgAs. It’s an important line of investigation, as not all mothers’ milk is protective. Identifying the protective substance(s) would allow us to make science milk that’s even better for preemies.

          • Kesiana

            I didn’t know that, actually! I love medical trivia, so thanks for the info. 🙂

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    There are so many areas in health care where costs can be cut. Administrative waste is a good start- estimated to $91 billion a year. Yes. $91 billion. http://healthaffairs.org/healthpolicybriefs/brief_pdfs/healthpolicybrief_82.pdf

    To put any of the burden of health care costs on the shoulders of women..it’s bullshit.

  • MS

    So when children inevitably get sick, his answer is to shift the blame of those costs and illnesses onto mothers. Classy.

  • demodocus

    Anecdotally, my hippie mother bf’d her kids and I got asthma anyway. Kind of like what my ff’d father has. My sister did not. Almost like the usual hit or miss of genetics.

    • AirPlant

      My brother was breastfed for two years. Severe asthma complete with multiple childhood hospitalizations. I was breastfed four months. Mild asthma, never been hospitalized. I am not exactly feeling a dose relationship there but sure. Lets just say it was the breastmilk.

    • Mel

      I have an identical twin sister so we’re pretty close to genetically identical. I was breast-fed for 3 months; she couldn’t tolerate breast milk. I’m allergic to a wide, strange variety of foods, have controllable asthma and am fat. She’s allergic to one medication (one!) and slender.

      Environment matters – but not always the environment you control.

    • Hilary

      I was breastfed for two years and my sister was completely formula fed. She had childhood asthma and I didn’t. However, I developed adult-onset asthma in college which is now actually worse than hers. Go figure. She does have a lot of allergies, though, which my mom of course blames herself for.

  • PrimaryCareDoc

    I wonder how much we’d save the healthcare system a year if we didn’t let any men take Viagra? It’s hard to find exact numbers, but here’s a article from 2006 that says that GM alone pays $14 million per YEAR on Viagra. That cost is passed on the automobile drives of the world. http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/04/gm_viagra.html

    In 2012, Viagra revenues were $2 billion. http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/27/health/viagra-anniversary-timeline/index.html

    If even a quarter of that was paid for by insurance…well, we’re looking at a lot of money.

    Let’s not forget about the costs of caring for complications of taking Viagra- stroke, MI, hypotensive episodes, priapism….

    Why the hell isn’t the CDC calling for a stop to this expensive issue! Won’t someone think of the the money saved?????

    • lilin

      Maybe they’ll care if all the sex causes women to reduce the time they spend trying to breastfeed.

    • Gatita

      Actually, my husband’s insurance doesn’t cover Cialis even though he has a medical need for it that isn’t just getting an erection. Which even if his main complaint were sexual, why the hell isn’t it legit to treat it? I hate that our country is so puritanical that “you only want to have the sex you perv” is apparently the attitude influencing healthcare coverage.

  • moto_librarian

    Show me a breastfeeding study with meaningful results that controls for the following confounders:
    1. Socioeconomic status;
    2. Whether or not a child is in daycare;
    3. Whether or not a child is fully vaccinated (including for rotavirus).

    Until that study is published, I see no reason to continue shaming women into breastfeeding as a public health initiative.

    • Mel

      What kills me is that we’ve managed to run paired studies of far more difficult to ascertain parameters than SES, daycare usage and vaccination schedules. I assumed the studies haven’t been done due to white-hat bias, but part of me is starting to wonder if lactivists instinctively know that tiny benefits that have been proved would likely disappear.

    • Valerie

      4. Whether a child is subject to unsafe formula feeding practices, like adding cereal to the bottle, leaving the formula out too long, or using formula mixed at an incorrect dilution

      Many new mothers are given bad advice by well-meaning family members, often starting with “don’t tell your doctor, but try…”

      • KeeperOfTheBooks

        I didn’t even know as a new mom that you shouldn’t leave formula out all the time. I mean, yeah, it made sense in retrospect, but I’d never had to deal with formula before, and then they just handed me the RTF bottles in the hospital when my hormones were crazy, I hadn’t slept in forever, and left me to it. Didn’t know I had to sterilize the SNS, either, until I had a massive yeast infection everywhere…and I do mean *ahem* everywhere. Things that might be intuitively obvious to most moms just aren’t when you’re exhausted, hormonal, and adjusting to the whole mom thing. I knew that food shouldn’t be left at room temperature for a long time–I worked in food service for a while, for goodness’ sakes!–but it simply didn’t occur to me while I was struggling to feed/pump/supplement, and the nurses didn’t tell me how to bottle-feed lest it sabotage my nursing. Grrrrrrr!

        • Angharad

          I think it just doesn’t necessarily occur to everyone. My mom was surprised when she saw me pouring out a bottle of formula one day and asked if I really thought it was no good after just a few hours. And she’s normally very good with food safety!

          • AirPlant

            I think all the blather about formula being one step up from plastic makes people think it keeps like a twinkie instead of a glass of milk.

          • Kesiana

            And depending on the type of milk you’re used to… I’m somewhat lactose-intolerant, so I drink soymilk, and that stuff can be left out for DAYS. (Although it should generally still be chilled after opening.) If I didn’t know better, I can see myself going, “Well, the powdered formula keeps forever at room temp, so adding water shouldn’t make it go bad all that fast, right?”

            …or, even if I WASN’T severely sleep-deprived, the only way I could be all that sure when I mixed/took out a bottle would be if I wrote the time directly on it. I’ve discovered it’s in my own best interest to write on jars when I opened them!

        • Valerie

          Yeah, I think clear directions, dos and don’ts, what to watch out for, etc, should be presented for anybody who is formula feeding for any reason or length of time. It isn’t obvious, instinctual, “common sense,” or whatever you want to call it, especially when you are physically and emotionally exhausted.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            I heartily agree. I mean, how hard would it be to just have a photocopied “Formula Safety Sheet” or something, saying “feed your kid about this much at a time, toss it after an hour, follow directions exactly when mixing formula, use this type of water in your area to make it up, wash the bottles this way” etc?

          • Pinky

            There is! Baby friendly has one. Available free to anyone who cares to look.

          • Megan

            Do you have a link? I can’t find it.

          • KeeperOfTheBooks

            And if BFI hospitals can give a mom who wants to nurse multiple full-color booklets on why if you don’t nurse your child won’t bond properly and will spend the rest of its life with various terrible health conditions, why can’t they give a mom who’s formula-feeding, whether or not that was the original plan, the bare basics of safety info, either verbally or (far better) on paper? Let’s say for the sake of argument that breast is best. Even if that’s true, some moms are going to formula feed. The proper response isn’t “well, I guess their babies should risk death from preventable infant diarrhea due to bad food sanitation,” it’s “okay, so this is how you make up a bottle, and this is about how much your baby should eat at the moment, though it will gradually increase, and don’t leave prepared formula at room temp for more than an hour.”

          • demodocus

            Thank god my big sister was there when our kiddo needed some supplementation those first couple weeks. Not sure where she learned it since she doesn’t have kids but she gave us a nearly complete rundown and showed both of us how to fill, clean, and store the things while our brains were still fuzzy.

          • moto_librarian

            Even stay at home moms might have occasion to use formula or a bottle. We need education on infant feeding, period. I shouldn’t have to look for that information when information on breastfeeding is shoved in my face.

          • Valerie

            Hm- I only have anecdotal evidence, but I know of more than one parent who did not get any information even though they asked. For example, one new mom had to temporarily stop breastfeeding because medication rendered her milk unsafe. All she and her husband got were shrugs when asked about formula feeding during this time. Another in a similar situation told me about a trial that sounded a lot like the Hanukkah story, where she pumped in advance of a procedure and, with prayer, made the milk last. Really, everybody should have safety information, even if they intend to exclusively breastfeed for as long as possible- because the time when you can’t feed is probably going to be stressful, and the last thing you want is to feel unprepared and anxious on top of that.

          • Dr Kitty

            Direct people here:
            http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/sites/default/files/Chapter%201%20Feeding%20your%20baby_0.pdf

            Every new mum in Northern Ireland gets the “Birth to Five” book, and the chapter on infant feeding, while having a lot about BF, also has info towards the end about safe FF.

      • Sarah

        Oh yes. And you can potentially add very early weaning to that generally, which you touch on with the cereal stuff. I live in a very deprived community in the UK, one where formula feeding is almost universal. The cereal in the bottle trick is one I’ve heard about a lot, as is baby rice at a couple of months. This is not usually communicated to healthcare professionals, for obvious reasons, so it’s not something that the literature is able to even address, let alone control for. But where I live at least, there is also an association between poverty, formula feeding and very early weaning. Makes sense given that formula can be expensive.

  • How much productivity is lost in our economy when women choose to leave the workforce and don’t come back, or take their full FMLA period to EBF? (I’m thinking mostly of the US here, since civilized countries except us all have long paid maternity leaves.)

    • DiomedesV

      Presumably there is lost productivity whether or not women have access to maternity leave.

  • Azuran

    I hate how they are just saying out things without actually doing anything to really help the problems.
    even IF breastfeeding reduced medical cost, simply telling everyone that it does will not help women with insufficient supply, those with any sort of breastfeeding difficulties, those who cannot afford to (because of time or money or whatever) nor will it makes those who do not want to breastfeed change their minds.
    It’s like going around telling people that we would save millions in health cost if more people took the bus because there would be less car accidents. But without doing anything to make public transport more affordable, effective, available or faster.

  • lawyer jane

    Ok, I am just feeling so incredibly offended that men are man-tweeting about breastfeeding costs, and completely ignoring that A) breastfeeding can be costly to mothers; and more importantly, B) given its demonstrably slight health benefits, breastfeeding is primarily a question of bodily autonomy and reproductive freedom – NOT a mechanism to save healthcare costs!

    • LeighW

      What can she do with her body to SAVE ME money??

      And why should the incubators time matter? As long as she can do laundry and make dinner while the baby is sleeping it’s all good!

      *shudder*


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