Why should I care about breastfeeding?

That was a long time ago…I’m done with that part of my life.

mom:baby bf

The short answer: if you are a taxpayer or you pay for health care, you should care.

A 2010 study concluded that if 90% of moms breastfed 6 months, the savings in health care costs would be $13 billion and 911 deaths per year.

The study projected the costs of many childhood diseases including leukemia, obesity, SIDS, asthma and ear infections using research as of 2009 and 2007 dollars.

I’m trying to get my head around that number: $13 billion. When I Google $13 billion, I flip through other incomprehensible things like
• a JP Morgan penalty for bad mortgage investments
• a new aircraft carrier (the USS Gerald R. Ford)
• huge corporate purchase deals.

Trying to measure it against the $3.3 trillion annual health care price tag doesn’t help much. That $13 billion is a .07% savings.

Still $13 billion is a pretty startling number and if someone came to me and said they were cutting $13 billion out of any budget, I think it’s worth taking notice.

Please don’t write off breastfeeding as something you did in the past. Congratulations for breastfeeding. Now pass it on.

How can you help?
Every woman needs the moral support and acceptance of each one of us.
• Welcome breastfeeding employees and customers into businesses.

• Stare down those who make demeaning comments or nasty jokes about breastfeeding in public

• Give moms the time and space they need to develop a good breastfeeding relationship with their baby.

• If you are a grandparent (or grandparent-to-be), educate yourself about breastfeeding, how a breastfed baby grows and how you can encourage your daughter or daughter-in-law.

• If you are a care provider, here is a guide for how to welcome breastfeeding infants and a list of questions about mothers’ preferences to facilitate communication.

• If you are an employer: The Department of Health and Human Services’ Business Case for Breastfeeding has sample breastfeeding policies and guidelines for creating space for pumping along how it reduces costs for businesses to support breastfeeding mothers.

We need to help mothers reach their own goals for breastfeeding. Most moms want to breastfeed. The majority don’t achieve their own breastfeeding goals. Best for Babes has labeled many Booby Traps that make it difficult to breastfeed or actually undermine efforts to breastfeed. Many of these are cultural and institutional, so when it comes down to it there are large forces working against breastfeeding moms. I love this line: “Mothers are being encouraged to breastfeed, but set up to fail.”