Breastfeeding seminars

No, breastfeeding is not really free

During my pregnancy, I was looking forward to breastfeeding my son. I had heard that not only does it provide optimal nutrition for baby, but it also fights infection and disease, reduces the risk of SIDS, and decreases the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in the mother. It helps with mother-baby bonding, as well as postpartum depression and weight loss.

And it’s “free!”

Good kind of.

“Breastfeeding isn’t free,” says Linda M. Hanna, International Board Certified Lactation Consultant and Registered Nurse Practitioner. “But the cost [of breastfeeding] is significantly less [than formula] in general.”

According to the Surgeon General, breastfeeding families can save between $1,200 and $1,500 on the costs of the formula in one year. And on a larger level, A 2007 study estimated that if 90% of American families breastfed exclusively for six months, the United States would save $13 billion a year through reduced medical “and other” costs.

Yet for many women, the milk does not always flow freely. when I knew breastfeeding challenges were a possibility, experiencing them opened my eyes. And one thing that struck me is that breastfeeding’s selling point that it’s “free” – or at least cheap – is overblown. All the products and services it takes to successfully breastfeed can easily negate that estimated $1,200-1,500.

Let’s break down some of the costs of breastfeeding.

Locking + positioning

You can bring the baby to the breast, but you cannot feed him. Babies need to latch onto the nipple correctly to transfer an adequate amount of milk, and this doesn’t always happen naturally.

The good news is that more and more hospitals are beginning to recognize the importance of lactation support in the hours after birth. “Hospital-based lactation support is becoming extremely prevalent, so women don’t have to go out and pay $300 to have a lactation consultant come,” says Hanna. (Fees for a lactation consultant vary by consultant and location, but tend to be $60 to $150 per hour.)

However, there will be a percentage of women who will need additional support for latching and positioning. “A problem that we thought was a latching problem turned out to be identified 10 or 15 years ago as the baby having a lip or tongue tie,” says Hanna. “It can also be maternal anatomy, including women who have issues with their nipples, such as nipple inversions.”

Lockout issues are common, but can be resolved with a host of products and services:

  • Nipple shield (makes it easier for baby to connect to your breast): $7-$10
  • Nipple everter (helps extract inverted nipples): $7
  • Breast shells (helps extract inverted nipples): $10-$15
  • Frenotomy (procedure to correct baby’s tongue or lip): about $750 on average, but cost depends on medical insurance coverage

Supply, demand + pumping

In a perfect world, you will provide the amount of milk your baby needs based on how often he breastfeeds. There are countless reasons why a baby and mother may not bond immediately after birth, which can lead to supply issues in the days following delivery. Taking supplements like fenugreek ($10) and starting a pumping regimen early can increase supply.

The Affordable Care Act requires most insurance companies cover all costs a breast pump “for the duration of breastfeeding”. But insurance may limit the type of pump you can buy for free. It may also limit how long you are allowed to rent a pump at their expense. Although the AAP recommends breastfeeding for six months, my pump was only covered for three months, which left me with two options: 1) Rent the pump for a monthly fee. 2) Buy my own pump. (Fortunately, a dear friend gave me his Spectra S2 – although technically most breast pumps are considered single-user devices, so this loaner wasn’t necessarily FDA-sanctioned).

For those spending the money on a pump, dual electric pumps cost between $100 and $400, with hospital-grade pumps costing up to $2,000, and portable pumps, like Willow and Elvie, approaching $500. $. Manual pumps, which many moms buy in addition to an electric pump for on-the-go pumping and emergency situations, costs about $15 to $25.

Milk storage + feeding

A breast pump is only part of the equation. Once you express milk, you will need to store it and then give it to your child, which may require another arsenal of equipment. In addition to a working fridge or freezer, you may need:

  • Bottles and teats: $2 – $15 per bottle
  • Milk storage bags: $12 to $15 for a pack of 100
  • Additional pump parts such as flanges, valves and tubing: $30 for a set
  • A push-up bra (not essential, but useful): $20
  • A bottle warmer (not essential, but useful): $15 to $30
  • Nursing pads for leaks (not essential either – but most of us would rather not walk around in public with milk stains on our breasts): $10 for a box
  • If you’re a nursing, working mom, you might consider investing in a cooler bag ($10 to $25) to transport your pumped milk to and from the office.

You’ll also need running hot water and dish soap, as well as a dishwasher or bottle sterilizer to keep your gear clean and safe for baby.

Nursing Nutrition

“There is also the cost of healthy eating. The best health a mother can have for herself in the long term is the health and well-being she has during pregnancy and the first year or two. while breastfeeding,” says Hanna.

According to La Leche International League, eating whole, nutritious foods during pregnancy sets the stage for breastfeeding success. The general consensus is that breastfeeding women eat at least 1,800 calories a day, and those calories should ideally come from healthy, fresh foods.

The average US household spends between $280 and $500 a month at the grocery store, but not all mothers have access to traditional grocery stores. In 2010, the USDA reported that 23.5 million Americans lived in food deserts: areas without supermarkets offering meat and fresh products. Food deserts are often found in poor areas, which can pose health problems for nursing mothers and babies.

Breast health

Breastfeeding can be a real pain in the breast, with conditions ranging from cracked and bleeding nipples to clogged ducts and – ouch! — milk blisters. Infections like Lily of the valley and mastitis requires medical care which, if you have insurance, may result in a co-pay or warrant a prescription.

Hanna says women get blocked ducts and infections because they don’t empty their breasts completely. Skipped, missed, or delayed sensations can lead to these issues, but with the schedules we keep today, it’s impossible to drain our breasts on time every day.

“There are things that can be done to prevent infection, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Some women are more prone to it due to their own anatomy, but we can proactively try to prevent those things from happening. happen,” says Hanna.

Supplements such as sunflower lecithin ($10) and coconut oil ($7), as well as a lactation massager ($40) can help prevent clogged ducts which, if ignored , can lead to mastitis. Cooling gel pads and nipple balm ($8, two miracles) can help soothe sore nipples.


The breastfeeding industry is vast. Between nursing pillows and fashion lines designed for easy breast access, you can party up with the sheer number of non-essential nursing accessories. My current wardrobe consists of a rotation of nursing tops and dresses (all $20-$50 each), and I recently invested in a special backpack with a breast pump compartment that I can take to work ($50).

Intangible investments

A year of breastfeeding totals approximately 1,800 hours, which is basically a full-time job. So that means working nursing mothers essentially have to juggle two jobs, often in workplaces that don’t offer support in terms of nursing rooms or break time to pump, despite the federal government. Fair Labor Standards Act. And unfortunately, breastfeeding discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace, and it has serious potential financial consequences for breastfeeding mothers and their families.

So, is breastfeeding free?

Of course, if you have no problem with latching and feeding, never pump or bottle feed your baby, and have the chance to avoid clogged ducts and cracked nipples – and you have a place. that takes care of your breastfeeding and pumping needs.

In reality, most women need some level of help with breastfeeding, which takes time, money and emotion. Whether the return on investment of breastfeeding is worth it or not is a personal calculation that each mother will have to make for herself.

[Originally posted on Apparently]

bottle feeding, baby feeding, lactation, lactation