'Breast is Best' vs. 'Formula is Fine'

Monday, March 15, 2010

When it comes to breast-feeding, the pendulum may be swinging back from "breast is best" to "formula is fine." Among the reasons: assertions that the health benefits of breast milk may be exaggerated, the perception by some that breastfeeding advocates are overly judgmental, and new research indicating that mothers who nurse may face negative economic consequences.

Dr. Phyllis Rippeyoung, assistant professor of sociology at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, shares data from her working paper on the economic consequences of breast-feeding.

Guests:

Dr. Phyllis Rippeyoung

Hosted by:

Lynn Sherr

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [17]

Jessa Brezinski from Boston/Cambridge, MA

Ignoring the interview, I don't think the study is talking at all about women who are more concerned about the cost of a baby than their careers and therefore shouldn't have children. The concern lies in that it's backwards thinking to truly believe that mothers should be financially penalized more than fathers in families which decide to continue breastfeeding longer than six months. A woman should not have to choose between reproducing and stalling her career, in the same way that stay-at-home fathers should not be shunned for not being breadwinners. If it was a matter of life and death for the child, we might extend different expectations over the behavior of the mother and expect her then to stay home and breastfeed and accept the financial and career losses, but it's not. We have equipment and supposedly enough social standing as women that it should not be an issue.

Apr. 10 2010 05:12 PM
Irina

Look at it as flying.
Formula is like tourist class: only costs the milk, you arrive safe at your destination. Your child will be safe and healthy.
Breastfeeding is like business class: you spend money in more food to you, more diapers, freezing bags, pumps, pads, plus an enormous commitment. your child has a unique food that changes according to neccesity, provides him with defenses to what he's being exposed, you lose weight and get more attached to him.
Which way to take? whatever works for you. I'm happy of not having to prepare bottles, specially at night, and in my case it doesn't hurt, plus the flavor is fabulous.

Mar. 30 2010 05:46 PM
Laura from Dothan AL

If you can get a milk goat or get goat milk from someone else, that is equal to human milk. Some stores carry canned goats milk.

Mar. 20 2010 07:05 PM
Roxane Hynek from Hanover, MA

The study dealt with loss of income for women who continue to breastfeed beyond 6 months because they found full time employment difficult. So where does the interviewer get statements such as "formula is fine", "the pendulum is swinging the other way", and "you're a bad mother if you don't breastfeed", not to mention that "breastfeeding is expensive" and "breastfeeding is painful"? Not from the study! Not one of those statements is defensible in a reasoned discussion. It's true that it is hard for women in our society to work and breastfeed, and fixing that is where the discussion should focus. I expect better from NPR.

Mar. 17 2010 11:37 AM
robyn from toronto

The point is that there is a cost to breastfeeding, it cannot be thought of as free vs. formula. It takes time and energy AND in a work environment that cost drastically increases.
Women do not have the support to always make it feasible. Some made the point that they were sitting in washrooms and their car breastfeeding. This is a childs food, do we make our food in a dirty washroom? NO. Women are generally not provided with an adequate area to express milk at the office, they should be provided with a clean private area with a locked door, table and electrical outlet. Without the proper support and resources, breastfeeding can be complicated, and some women do have great difficulty and pain with breastfeeding, but this certainly isn't the norm.
The health benefits of breastfeeding are clear, but there is a lot of grey area in between. It is a womans choice and either way she should be supported.

Mar. 17 2010 09:26 AM
robyn from toronto

The point is that there is a cost to breastfeeding, it cannot be thought of as free vs. formula. It takes time and energy AND in a work environment that cost drastically increases.
Women do not have the support to always make it feasible. Some made the point that they were sitting in washrooms and their car breastfeeding. This is a childs food, do we make our food in a dirty washroom? NO. Women are generally not provided with an adequate area to express milk at the office, they should be provided with a clean private area with a locked door, table and electrical outlet. Without the proper support and resources, breastfeeding can be complicated, and some women do have great difficulty and pain with breastfeeding, but this certainly isn't the norm.
The health benefits of breastfeeding are clear, but there is a lot of grey area in between. It is a womans choice and either way she should be supported.

Mar. 17 2010 09:25 AM
Erik from New York

My oldest child is now 18 but I remember well the combined politics of birthing and breastfeeding at play in Boston. At the time we were on the PC side by our own inclination and I was very glad we were spared the wrath of these "birthers". However now after four children and a range of experiences, the notion that so many people are willing unload their biases on others just seems obnoxious. It is none of of your business. If you think your child's well being depends breast feeding good for you but in my experience there is a lot more to raising healthy and confident children.

Mar. 16 2010 05:28 PM
Elizabeth from New York, NY

I was also disturbed by the tone that Lynn Sherr took in this interview. Breastfeeding is painful and requires a lot of equipment? Now that's just misinformation, pure and simple.

Clearly Dr. Rippeyoung was trying to say that our culture needs to shift to make breastfeeding an easier choice for women.

Mar. 16 2010 01:21 PM
Maman A Droit from Iowa

I think women who are overly concerned with the cost of breastfeeding are really just upset because having a baby inconveniences them, and they like the idea of a sweet snuggly baby, but don't like that they may have to make sacrifices, perhaps significant ones, to care for that baby. No matter how you feed your baby, the mere fact that you have a baby is going to mean major costs in time, money, and emotional investment, for the next 18+ years. If you aren't ready for that, you aren't ready for a baby.

Mar. 15 2010 03:47 PM
Carl Buxbaum from Boston, MA

Wow, did your interviewer ever miss the mark. The study had <b>nothing</b> to do with the pros or cons of breastfeeding, but simply stuidied the economic consequences of the decision to breastfeed. In fact, since the study has not been published yet, we do not even know what the conclusions are. Lynn made a number of unproven assumptions ("breastfeeding is painful and expensive") and concluded from thin air, and in contravention to the established AAP guidelines that formula was a better choice. You could almost hear the shovel scrape against the hole she was digging as she spoke, and I wondered how long John Hockenberry would stay silent. It made me furious to hear someone trying to create controversy where none exists and to spout ingnorance on top of that.

Mar. 15 2010 02:36 PM
sue a.

thanks to nikki lee for her common sense!a huge ? went up in my mind at lynn s.' remark that breastfeeding one's baby is complicated! and, does it seem contradictory to anyone that "hooters",and strip clubs,and so on are prevalent, while it is shocking, repugnant, and unfeasible if a woman nurses her baby--and especially in public?

Mar. 15 2010 10:35 AM
Maria

I am in the military, and I chose to breastfeed/express milk for my baby with the full support of my command. It was a significant challenge dragging my breast pump to offsite meetings and standing around in women's restrooms or going in my car (for a full year), but it was worth it to me and my daughter.

She's been in daycare since she was 6 weeks old but has hardly been sick (less work days missed for me). Her pediatrician stated breastfeeding was an important factor in keeping her so healthy.

Mar. 15 2010 09:37 AM
Robert from Detroit

I agree with Peg, the concept that you would have a baby and then start concerning yourself with the associated costs speaks to a generation that thinks that babies are an entitlement and everyone else should foot the bill for your decesion. If you want to have a child, be ready to accept the costs of doing what's in the best interest of that child-including breastfeeding!

Mar. 15 2010 09:00 AM
Arti

I'm shocked at the assertion that breastfeeding is expensive (it's not) or that the benefits are not real. Please don't take on important topics so glibly. Sometimes the tone of this show just misses entirely. Entirely.

Mar. 15 2010 07:06 AM
LC from New York

Wow. Does Lynn Sherr have a problem with breastfeeding? She seemed determined to make it sound painful, expensive, just something that the liberal elite do to be dilettantish. And she missed the interviewee's point entirely. That was a poorly handled discussion of an important subject.

Mar. 15 2010 07:01 AM
Peg

"The full cost/benefit analysis of breastfeeding"????

What the #@%$ ?

Why even have children at all if you are thinking about them in this cost/benefit way?

Mar. 15 2010 06:59 AM
Nikki Lee from Elkins Park, PA

Forget about research. Forget about pendulums.

If breastfeeding didn't work, none of us would be here because the human race would not have survived.

Mar. 15 2010 06:57 AM

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