Floor 44: Breastfeeding?

I’m breastfeeding BabyDebtFreeJD.

I’m not doing it because it’s cheaper.

However, I was curious – how  do the numbers add up?

Tummy Time

DogDebtFreeJD and I keep a careful eye on BabyDebtFreeJD during tummy time!

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.

This mirror was another generous gift.  Here, Baby DebtFreeJD is admiring his stylish duds.

This mirror was another generous gift. Here, Baby DebtFreeJD is admiring his stylish duds.

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.

A rare period in which BabyDebtFreeJD is not ravenous.

A rare period in which BabyDebtFreeJD is not ravenous.  The excellent chair was a hand-me-down!

*Not to get too graphic, but I just pull up the tighter tops, rather than pulling the neckline down.

7 thoughts on “Floor 44: Breastfeeding?

  1. May

    Congratulations baby is beautiful!!!! I didn’t realize what a dream breastfeeding was until my guys were switched to formula. Formula is a pain in the butt and I still remember coming home from work and having to make up all the bottles- not to mention how expensive formula is. I wish I could have bf longer – try and hang on as long as you can.

  2. a

    For me breastfeeding worked out to be much, much more expensive than formula. It kicked my metabolism into extreme overdrive and I was eating six or more full-sized, heavy meals a day just to maintain my weight. That added up to a minimum of $50 more per week to breastfeed just to keep me fed (this expense disappeared as soon as I stopped lactating), whereas each of my kids went through about one ~$14 can of formula per week.

    1. Mrs. DebtFreeJD Post author

      Uh oh! So far that hasn’t happened to me – or at least, I’m not eating any MORE than I was while I was pregnant. I did eat a heck of a lot while I was pregnant though.

  3. C@thesingledollar

    Your baby is adorable! I’m glad breastfeeding is working out so well for you — I have several friends for whom it’s gone that smoothly, and several that have had a really difficult time with it. The former seems much preferable 🙂

  4. Kandice

    I just read your entire blog tonight (found you through No More Harvard Debt). I have to commend you on your debt repayment and offer my congrats on the new family member. Having options is HUGE. You are wise to choose the route you did. I was working in BigLaw when my son was born, moved to Big4 accounting firm when he was 6 mos old. I breastfed him up to 9 mos, pumping at work during the day. It was a challenge, but not insurmountable. A discreetly placed post it note above my doorknob (outward facing side of the door) alerted others that I could not be interrupted, a mini-frig in my office addressed keeping pumped milk preserved without grossing anyone else out re: a common kitchen frig. Good luck!

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