I hardly blinked last week when yet another study heralded the benefits of breastfeeding, titled, “Breastfeeding Would Save Lives, Money.” It found that feeding babies as nature intended, rather than with formula, could also improve the state of our economy. Yet, our country still acts as though the majority of mothers could happily nurse their babies exclusively for 6 months without real financial and in some cases physical hardship. Why?
Perhaps because when breastfeeding doesn’t work out, mothers assign blame to themselves, rather than our social and institutional structures. And maybe, certain institutions have an interest in keeping mothers uninformed and beholden to second-best options.
I suggest this because of what was NOT the article’s title: “Formula Feeding Costs Lives, Money.”
Why is the most natural way to feed a mammal so often framed as a benefit, an added bonus? How can one hope to persuade people to breastfeed their babies if it sounds like some kind of special “gift” only people with enough time or education or job flexibility can offer their children? If you’re stressed about finances, frazzled in your relationships, or struggling with making the “right” parenting choices, do you really prioritize “special” relationships and “added benefits,” or do you just try to get through it all without making big mistakes?