The Lack of Breastfeeding is Costing Lives

Breastfeeding is an extremely personal decision between mother and child. This is first and foremost must be recognized as we begin this discussion. There is ongoing research that is showing that the lack of breastfeeding is costing lives.

Recent studies have concluded that almost 1000 deaths per year could theoretically be avoided by simple breastfeeding alone.  Therefore, these deaths have been referred to as “Preventable Deaths“.

The cost associated due to  the lack of breast feeding is alarming and eye opening. It has been calculated that over $13 billion dollars annually could be saved by following simple steps of breastfeeding.

Often, for some women, the lack of breastfeeding can result in personal feelings of anxiety and guilt. Women choose to stop breast feeding because of a variety of very noteworthy reasons including:  medication restrictions, anxiety, Postpartum Depression, biting, pain, and others are not necessarily the central theme of this blog article.

Others however are choosing to stop breastfeeding for reasons including:  lack of instruction, common misunderstandings about breastfeeding, sleep, comfort, employment, and others .  Breast feeding is losing steam and many are beginning to question its importance.

Breastfeeding is a very personal choice by the mother and should remain personal.  But saving 1000 preventable deaths per year should require us to take another look at the importance of breastfeeding.

A new study that was recently published in the “Journal Pediatrics” confirms the new findings. It states, “The United States incurs $13 billion in excess costs annually and suffers 911 preventable deaths per year because our breastfeeding rates fall far below medical recommendations.”

Often the main question of breastfeeding is for how long?  Several organizations have agreed that 6 months is the key age to achieve the growth expected and the proper anticipated health development.

Those who agree include: the WHO, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, the CDC, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Hospitals are recommended to push breastfeeding and its benefits to all new mothers. Skin-to-skin contact is essential to help initiate breastfeeding and suckle by the infant. Emotional connection is also felt for many mothers.

The lack of breastfeeding can obviously have other consequences than those mentioned.

 

Average Breast Feeding Rates:

  –  74% of women start breastfeeding
  –  33% are exclusively breastfeeding after 3 months
  –  14% are exclusively breastfeeding after 6 months

 

Infant Deaths

Caused by 3 main illnesses:

1.)  SIDS [Sudden infant death syndrome]
2.)  Necrotizing enterocolitis
3.)  Lower Respiratory infections, Other Lung infections [including Pneumonia] and Respiratory Failure

Breastfeeding has been shown to improve or reduce the risk of these 3 main causes of infant death. It should be noted that in many cases these are preventable deaths. During the study in addition to these three, seven other illness are also improved by breastfeeding.

 

What costs are included?

*** Cost of formula was not included

1.) Cost related to death
2.) Direct cost of hospitalization and other health care
3.) Parent’s time missed from work.

 

What prevents breastfeeding?

1.) Time
2.) Sleep
3.) Employment
4.) Formula may be easier
5.) Breast discomfort
6.) Previous bad experience
7.) Recommendations from family members

 

What needs to be done:

1.) Increase breastfeeding awareness
2.) Increase awareness in mothers and grandmothers of new mothers about importance of breastfeeding
3.) Increase hospital teaching and timing of breastfeeding
4.) Breast pumps can help mother use breast milk at times of discomfort, fatigue, work, or others

 

In the end, breastfeeding is personal and no one should push us to do something we are uncomfortable with.   But for those willing to attempt breastfeeding, we hope that hospitals improving teaching opportunities with newborns and their parents.

They must take the appropriate amount of time to show all mothers how to properly breastfeed.  There is little more frustrating to a new mother than feeling inadequate when trying to feed your child.  Often that frustration turns into switching to formula and other options.

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3 Responses to The Lack of Breastfeeding is Costing Lives

  1. Mary Oliveira says:

    Hi. I wanted to make a comment on this page. I personally went through extreme anxiety and depression after having my baby. I would wake up in the morning and dread waking up because life just seemed too overwhelming. After waking up to my baby cry, taking out the dog, needing to pee, and having my phone ring off the hook, I almost just wanted to hide under my covers and die. I had the most horrible thoughts that I never wanted anyone to know. Breastfeeding was one of them. I really wanted my baby to have breast milk. However, the pain was more that what I could bare. I had prescribed medication lotion that was suppose to help my nipples but it did not help. All the chapping and soreness. That was only a part of it. My baby was really sleepy and only woke up to feed about every 5-6 hours. At our first appointment he lost a pound from birth. The pediatrician recommended that I supplement him every time after breast fed him. My baby soon did not want breast milk at all. It was much easier for him to get what he wanted from the bottle. I called my doctor because I was really concerned. He suggested that I come in and see a specialist on breastfeeding. She helped me find a few tactics that got him comfortable. For example she said that babies can only think about one thing at a time so it’s important to wrap them up tight so they can’t use their arms and legs and will focus on feeding. I tried this for a while, but he still would not breast feed. Finally, the doctor suggested to pump. Pumping was really embarrassing for me. When I went to pump only a few drops would come out after pumping on both sides for 20 minutes each. I cried and cried. I started having panic attacks and thought that I was a really bad mother. I went to the Midwives again and she suggested that I no longer breastfeed because my anxiety was to high and it could affect the baby. It was really hard to… and what I thought was giving in to bottle feeding. She told me that it’s more important to have quality time holding, touching, and laughing with my baby than breastfeeding him. And that there were many studies that proved that although breast milk is best, formula is almost just as good. And a lot better than what it used to be. My baby is now growing up strong and happy. He is so smart and is really responsive. Letting go I think is the hardest thing. There are moments where I wish that he would just want to latch on, but those don’t come very often because I then think about all the pain and struggles I went through. Things are a lot happier, but I still sometimes get anxious or feel judged when I give my baby a bottle. But I have to remember that I did my best and I only have to answer to myself, to what I feel is right.

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    • admin says:

      I am sorry to hear about your difficulties with what sounds like postpartum depression and a very difficult time. Thank you for your comments and courage to express your experience. It also seems like you had to make difficult choices that even brought you more anxiety and hardship.

      This blog article though speaks to those who are choosing not to breastfeed because of choices other than medical choices. Postpartum is a common occurrence and can be a valid reason not to breastfeed. However, there is evidence of several conditions who’s risk of occurrence increases without breast milk. Though many children who are fed by formula have no difficulties and formula is a great option for someone who is unable to breastfeed as your case points out.

      But, what if your family was unable to teach you about breastfeeding or your hospital never took the time to properly teach you how to breastfeed. This article is intended for that audience, though a helpful reminder on the importance of breastfeeding can always be important.

      Personal decision about medical advice should be left to the individual. Blogs are intended as learning medium but many medical decisions should also be done while consulting with a health care provider and all situations may require further medical advice by a licensed health care professional.

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  2. Ed Harris says:

    I guess the best thing to say is “To each their own.” My wife was able to breastfeed and perhaps were just lucky.

    I’m sure it was not easy what you went through. I’m glad they are healthy and I’m sure you are a great Mother!

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