I agree that the economic value of breastfeeding is ignored unfairly. The baby cannot pay for his mother's time and labour, but society should do, by extended maternity leave, nursing breaks, free pumps, flexible working, and whatever else is needed. There is research which calculates the cost of mothers' breastfeeding and makes it a part of a nation's GDP.
Having said that, we make a mistake if we view breastfeeding/breastmilk solely in economic, quantifiable terms.
I welcome social science and other non-biomedical research into breastfeeding, because it's only with this sort of research that we can learn more about the psychology, at an individual and societal level, of the whole issue.
It's a real shame, in my view, that Joan Wolf, a political scientist, has looked at breastfeeding research and concluded (wrongly, as it happens) that the health impact is not so great, and that mothers are somehow duped into thinking that what they are doing makes a difference. Breastfeeding is also an act of bodily autonomy - mothers enjoy the fact that their body makes their baby grow, they enjoy the role breastfeeding plays in their growing and loving relationship with their baby, and when this does not work out they are sad and disappointed and angry....not always because they worry that their baby will become ill, but because they recognise they would have liked to share that experience with their babies and now cannot.
Some mothers are sad or disappointed or angry -- not all, surely?
I think these emotional aspects of BF are highly individualised and you can't generalise whether they fall on the positive or negative side of the equation.
My friend with the cluster feeds -- she has actually indefinitely delayed having another child because she would feel too guilty not to BF but she cannot emotionally deal with going through it again, it was extremely hard for her.
Obviously the emotional aspects can also be extremely positive, I just think we have to acknowledge it can go either way really.
Obviously i meant some feel that way and not all. I was referencing the population wolf and others suggest are feeling 'guilty' because they have been hoodwinked into thinking bf is essential to good mothering. I suggest their feelings are more complex.
I just wish that the NHS would walk the walk and not just talk the talk when it comes to BF. Until we resolve this disconnect, IMO BF rates will remain low.
I had to FF DS initially due to major problems with latch etc. Turns out he had a tongue tie, which I'd not even heard of! Zero interest and support in the hospital or from the HV, despite posters and leaflets absolutely everywhere. I was able to BF DS after 12 weeks, but only after I'd hired a lactation consultant, pumped every 4 hours round the clock, bought domperidone etc. Not every mother would be in a position to do that. (At least when DD was born, I knew to ignore the NHS and use my own LC to get her tongue tie diagnosed and snipped...)
I would have bf if I could. I'll rephase that, if ds could and I and we'd been given the time and support we both needed. as it was we had rushed visits on the ward with 'well keep trying' until three days later hed still not eaten and was jaundiced. I expressed a bit and he was syringe fed until he eventually learnt to suck. It's still a poor reflex.
It took 10 days post discharge to see the bf specialist so two weeks total. The whole experience was traumatic for both of us.
I hope if I have another dc I will get more support but I know better now who to speak to. I do feel it's something I missed out on.
Interesting article. I have to say that from a personal point of view, the nhs is almost anti breastfeeding. My dd lost more than 10% of her birth weight at 3 days old and I was told I'd "have to give a bottle" by the midwife as I wasn't able to express the colostrum (who can?), then a few days later, when I asked the HV a question about BFing the reply was "I don't know the answer may be on this leaflet but if not, here's another leaflet on bottle feeding". It's really down to this forum and the NCT that I'm still going (and loving it) at 17 weeks! I didn't have any professionals extolling the virtues of BFing but found a profound lack of knowledge and understanding on their part. Perhaps the tide is changing or the nhs is now unable to fund the teaching required. I chose to bfeed as it was what I wanted and what I felt was best, can't say the advice I got given reflected this!