I’m breastfeeding BabyDebtFreeJD.
I’m not doing it because it’s cheaper.
However, I was curious – how do the numbers add up?
Using a middle-of-the-price range formula, formula feeding will cost about $2,000 over the first year of a baby’s life. Formula is one area where Mr. DebtFreeJD and I would spring for the best on the market – so I would estimate it would cost us more . . . although how much more? Not sure, but let’s say $3,000 for the year.
So, it’s expensive to formula feed!
How much does it cost to breastfeed? Nothing, you might say?
There are a lot of potential costs associated with breastfeeding.
Things you can spend money on include:
- A pump. Cost: $0. Insurance covered this for me.
- Milk storage bags. Cost: $14 for 100 from Amazon.
- Bottles. Cost: $0. A kind friend bought these for us off our registry.
- Lansinoh cream or the equivalent. Cost: $0. Luckily, I have not needed to use any creams or ointments yet.
- Nursing bras. Cost: $0. My old bras work just fine for breastfeeding. (I understand that this is not an option for more . . . uh . . . endowed ladies.)
- Special nursing shirts or dresses. Cost: $0. See above. What I own already, especially looser shirts, or button-down shirts, work just fine – but so do my old tank tops and t-shirts.* A side benefit of breastfeeding: you lose weight fast! So I fit into my old shirts within days after BabyDebtFreeJD was born.
- Nursing pads: First pack of washable pads: $10. Second pack (after DogDebtFreeJD stole several out of the laundry basket and hid them): $0, bought with a gift card.
- A breastfeeding pillow, like this one. Cost: $2. I picked one up used at a garage sale. Which is good, because Baby DebtFreeJD hates it, and will only nurse on it if he’s too tired to notice I’m not supporting him with my hands.
- A nursing cover for breastfeeding in public. Cost: $15. I have seen people use a scarf or a cloth diaper, but I usually need two hands to wrangle BabyDebtFreeJD when nursing under a blanket, and so we bought one that ties around my neck on Amazon.
In short, breastfeeding is much cheaper than formula feeding. However, as with anything else, there are ways to breastfeed expensively, very cheaply, or somewhere in between. I fall on the “in-between” part of the scale: I bought things new when it made my life easier (nursing cover) or they weren’t available used (milk storage bags). I didn’t buy things when I didn’t need them (e.g., special nursing bras or clothes). I bought them used when possible (e.g., nursing pillow I saw driving by a local garage sale). There’s also a lot of luck involved – I was able to nurse BabyDebtFreeJD without needing to supplement with formula, and we *knock on wood* haven’t had complications that would requiring purchasing medicine or special ointments.
And, of course, the bottles came off our registry from a generous friend of the family. The generosity of friends and family makes having a new baby easier in SO many ways: people have sent presents, brought dinners, made supportive phone calls, and come for visits (thanks especially MomDebtFreeJD and Mom-In-Law DebtFreeJD for staying with us for a couple of weeks)!
Last, but certainly not least, breastfeeding BabyDebtFreeJD would be a lot harder if it weren’t for generous paid maternity leave. I’ll be home for a little under four months, which gives us lots of time to establish breastfeeding and gives me time to pump and store breast milk for when I return to work. Without paid maternity leave, breastfeeding could be prohibitively expensive – because the cost would be equal to all the paychecks I’d be losing while I was home feeding BabyDebtFreeJD every time he is hungry. And he is hungry approximately 2304958761 times a day.
*Not to get too graphic, but I just pull up the tighter tops, rather than pulling the neckline down.