Monday, June 16, 2008


One of the many reasons people give for choosing to breastfeed is that, unlike formula, breastfeeding is free. Now, I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding and I think everyone should do it, but free it ain't. I have invested a lot of money while breastfeeding my son. I'm sure it still works out to be cheaper than the $100 per month formula would run you, but I think we need to be realistic and open about it when talking to new mothers about breastfeeding. I think if we had a real conversation about the costs associated with breastfeeding, we could get some of them covered by insurance providers. We know breastfed babies have fewer infections and colds and require less trips to the doctor and moms who breastfeed lower their chances of getting both ovarian and breast cancer. We deserve a break on some of the costly breastfeeding accessories! Here's what I've spent so far.

Breastpump: I bought a Playtex Embrace double electric pump when I was pregnant. I did some research and found that this was a middle-of-the-road option, cost-wise, that was endorsed by Dr. Sears and had good reviews on At Babies R Us, this pump retails for about $180 and comes with a bag, bottles and some replacement parts. I was getting pretty good results with this pump, but I was worried about my milk production falling off when I returned to work. I know that lactation consultants in general only recommend the Medela Pump in Style and the Ameda Purely Yours. The Medela pumps are around $300 and I couldn't justify spending that much, so I got the PY for $140. I also bought some replacement parts for this pump after a piece fell down the garbage disposal. I am assuming I'll probably buy more as they are tiny and easily lost and broken and just wear down over time.

Bottles: Yeah, even though you're breastfeeding you do need to purchase bottles (or cups) so that other people can feed your baby when you're away from him. I also had to purchase an extra set of bottles for pumping into at work and storing breastmilk in the fridge/freezer.

Storage bags: I also bought breastmilk storage bags for building up my freezer stash before I returned to work. It's pretty much essential to have at least a little bit of frozen milk for when you return back to work. Baby's gotta eat your first day back and what if you get stuck in traffic one day and can't be there in time to feed him? What if you really tie one on and have to pump and dump? You need some sort of back-up milk.

Nursing bras: I invested in 4 really nice nursing bras and a few not-so-nice ones from Target that offer no support but are very comfortable for at night and on the weekends. Any nursing mom will tell you that you live in your nursing bra so you need to at least have 3: one to wear, one in the laundry, one in a drawer.

Creams and pads: Most moms will have leaky breasts at some point (mine don't leak anymore) that require them to wear cotton pads in your bra to sop up the extra milk so it doesn't show through to a blouse. Sore nipples also require lanolin cream. Some women even have to buy gel inserts for their bras.

All of this and I'm not even taking into account all of the women who have difficulty nursing and have to rent hospital-grade pumps (at about $50 a month, plus $50 for accessories), SNS systems, herbs and prescriptions to boost milk supply, etc. It's also not uncommon for a mom to have to purchase a mini fridge to store her milk in while at work and some sort of cooling bag to transport it home in. I'm sure there are lots of other products that I am forgetting. What else have you spent money on to foster your breastfeeding relationship?

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