This continuation makes more sense if the reader first checks out the previous post based on an article by Aubrey Hirsch that goes into exquisite detail about the actual expense involved in breastfeeding, which is believed to help prevent obesity. For instance, a breastfed baby will not overfeed, because when hunger is satisfied he will voluntarily unlatch, or fall asleep.
Even when it is feasible, no one should be lulled into the false idea that this is an economical choice. On the most mundane level, there is the cost of supplies and equipment — a breast pump, for occasions when the milk is ready but the baby is not, or the mom is away from home; and milk storage bags; and bottles for milk that has been expressed by hand or by a mechanical pump. And nursing bras, and nipple cream, among other amenities. Prenatal vitamins should be continued, and a mom who serves as a feeding station needs to fuel up with an extra three to four hundred calories per day.
Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding does not come naturally or easily to every woman. To help with that, there are classes, and in an extreme case, the services of a lactation consultant can be hired for $200 per hour.
Plutus Foundation has determined that breastfeeding, in the first year, runs about $950, which includes all the startup coats, so it works out to less in the second year. About six months is the average time for exclusive breastfeeding, before other nourishment is introduced. But in this country the average maternity leave, if indeed such an amenity is offered at all, seems to be about 10 weeks, or two and a half months. Formula, by the way, runs about $1,200 per year.
Even though the annual price tag for breastfeeding decreases, not many have the chance to appreciate this, because the indirect cost — for instance, of not having gainful employment — goes up and up and up, which ties into another concept that Hirsch mentions:
And breastfeeding is only “free” if you think lactating parents’ time is worthless…. [The] amount of time spent breastfeeding (or pumping) in a year is nearly equivalent to the hours worked in a full-time job.
Her calculations also take into account the toll on the mother’s body, and even though some of these negative consequences have been mentioned here already, let’s just list them all, the better to appreciate the full effect.
The breasts themselves can suffer plugged ducts, fungal infections, mastitis, engorgement, and cracked nipples, while the rest of the body is subject to inadequate sleep, back pain, cramping, osteoporosis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Oh, and let’s not forget emotional health, including significant loss of time, and bodily autonomy, along with exhaustion, and being targeted by strangers with negative judgments.
Also, there is the pain of being misunderstood by friends and family members. When a well-meaning person says, “At least there is no cost,” how does a mom feel, knowing that person totally discounts the value of the work she put in and the toll on her mental and physical health?
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “The Many, Many Costs of Breastfeeding,” Vox.com, 05/17/22
Image by Sacha Chua/CC BY 2.0