Amid the national baby formula shortage, one argument has arisen online: why care when breastfeeding is free?
According to doctors and psychologists, that statement couldn’t be further from the truth.
Breastfeeding Is NOT Free
The ‘breastfeeding is free’ narrative in the midst of an infant formula shortage is a great example of public ignorance of what it actually takes to successfully breastfeed.”
This tweet was written by Jessica Owens-Young, an assistant professor in the department of health studies at American University.
Professionals Chimed In
The tweet went viral and had other professionals chiming in with their opinions.
During an interview with HuffPost, organizational psychologist Allison S. Gabriel spoke about how long breastfeeding takes and how time is not free.
“…It Consumes Women’s Time And Resources…”
Gabriel said, “Breastfeeding — and relatedly pumping breastmilk — is not free because it consumes women’s time and resources in ways that amount to another job on top of being a mother.”
“This means that breastfeeding is only free if we do not value women’s time and the efforts it takes to physically be the ones to produce breastmilk to feed their child.”
Breastfeeding Does Not Come Naturally To All Women
Another common misconception is that breastfeeding comes naturally to all women. This is not the case.
In fact, many women are unable to breastfeed and look to lactation specialists to help them, something that costs a considerable amount of money.
Time And Money
Karrie Locher, a registered nurse, spoke to HuffPost about the amount of time and money she put into specialists because her son could not latch onto her properly when he was first born.
He had a lip and tongue tie.
During the interview, Locher said, “I spent over $1,500 for the releases of those oral ties and the lactation consultant visits to try and salvage my breastfeeding journey.”
She continued, “Along with that, I spent endless time nursing, then pumping to sustain my milk supply.”
There Are Numerous Expenses
Pretty much, breastfeeding is not cheap. On top of specialists, people have to consider other items women purchase.
There are nursing pillows, pumping bras, milk coolers, storage bottles, breast pads, and much more. It gets expensive!
“I Was Exhausted, Overwhelmed, Frustrated…”
Money aside, Locher explained that the experience left her exhausted. She said, “I felt like I was feeding or attached to a pump around the clock.”
“I was exhausted, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, and felt defeated. The constant worry of ‘is he getting enough’ or ‘am I doing enough’ can be mental anguish itself.”
“It All Comes With A Cost.”
Locher continued in her interview, saying, “The effort, the willpower, the sleepless days and nights, the mental anguish, the time, the energy, the money ― that is not ‘free.'”
“It all comes with a cost.” The notion that breastfeeding is free ignores the reality many women face.