Breastfeeding – Financial Implications

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There are several articles which expound on the benefits of breastfeeding and why you should try harder to breast feed your child even if does not happen as easily in the beginning as you might have expected.

Here are a few that I liked

  1. Babycenter article 
  2. Fitpregnancy 
  3. NY Times

and here are a couple of books that you could read for some help-

  1. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding
  2. Breastfeeding Made Simple: Seven Natural Laws for Nursing Mothers

I prefer the second one – provides a lot of information without being judgemental about mothers who do not breastfeed.

Ultimately,  this a personal decision and knowing all the benefits can only add to your guilt but cannot make to opt for something you do not want to do or finding yourselves incapable of doing. In many cases it may not even be an option because of a medical situation or because of your work situation. My advice in this regard is the same as for other situations – do your best but don’t feel guilty for what you could not do.

However it is important to be cognizant that there is a big financial component to this as well. You will be spending quite a lot on formula to substitute for the breast milk and this might be a huge burden on you if you are not prepared.

How much can breast feeding save you ?

An average baby requires around 32 ounces of formula by the time he or she is 6 months. This is much lower initially and becomes lower around the age of 1 when the baby starts transitioning to solids. But you can safely assume that an average of 25 ounces per day will be required during the first year.

That translates into around 10,000 ounces over the course of the year, assuming there will be wastage and time when the baby wants more.

Let us do the calculations

Cost per ounce of formula – $1/ounce

Amount of liquid from one ounce of powder – Roughly 6 ounces.

Thus cost of 10,000 ounces would 10,000/6 = Roughly around $1600

You would most probably have to use purified water like these.

Costs roughly around a cent per ounce – which would translate into at least a hundred dollars extra.

All in all around $1700 just for water and formula excluding the bottles and nipples and warmers etc, not counting the time lost in getting stuff from grocery(purified water costs 6 times more if bought online so don’t even think about it). These costs can be balanced against potential costs of buying a breastpump and time spent in breastfeeding and pumping.

So if those extra thousand plus bucks can make a big difference in your lives, maybe you should put in the extra effort to breastfeed. It can be difficult, especially after an unexpected c-section but don’t give up without trying hard enough.

Remember – Immediately after birth you may not necessarily have a lot of milk, most cases you have colostrum only. You have to keep nursing and supplement your balanced diet with lots of water to get your supply robust enough to sustain the baby. There are a lot of supplements available and can read more about it here and here – Fenugreek and Mother’s Milk Tea were supplements that I found helpful.

The availability and omnipresence of baby formula may make it easy to give up on the process early on – after which your supply may not recover fast enough. So keep marching till everything falls into place.

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