breastfeeding: an investment in the future

While this post isn’t about sex per se, I think it’s sufficiently connected for it to be relevant here.

We know that breastfeeding is one of the least expensive and more effective ways to promote a child’s health. And one of the barriers to it (besides people getting freaked out when they see a woman breastfeeding in public) is that it’s really hard for most women to continue breastfeeding when they return to work. Yes, some workplaces accommodate the need to pump every few hours, but lots of companies don’t. So it makes sense that many women choose to stop breastfeeding.

The US House of Representatives recently passed H.R. 626, the Federal Employee Paid Parental Leave Act of 2009, which would give federal employees 4 weeks of paid parental leave. The cost is projected to be $850 million over five years and given the current economy, there’s the predictable opposition. And since the government is the largest single employer in the US, there might be a sense of obligation on the part of various companies, which some folks worry will add to the cost.

On the other hand, according to The Economic Benefits of Breastfeeding: A Review and Analysis:

A minimum of $3.6 billion would be saved if breastfeeding were increased from current levels (64 percent in-hospital, 29 percent at 6 months) to those recommended by the U.S. Surgeon General (75 and 50 percent). This figure is likely an underestimation of the total savings because it represents cost savings from the treatment of only three childhood illnesses: otitis media, gastroenteritis, and necrotizing enterocolitis. This report reviews breastfeeding trends and previous studies that assessed the economic benefits of breastfeeding. (published 2001)

I get that we (as a country) need to make more responsible decisions about money. And one of the patterns that led to our recent economic stupidity was/is the focus on the immediate return, rather than the longer trend. In the long run, this bill makes sense.


Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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