One of our favorite aspects of breastfeeding is how budget friendly it is. There really is no cheaper option when it comes to feeding your infant. However, it's not accurate to say it's "free". There are some costs involved, and how much is entirely up to you. Let's discuss some of the potential costs of breastfeeding and how to navigate them.
This is probably the biggest investment: the sheer amount of time it takes to exclusively breastfeed (or pump). There's no way to get around it. At first, you will be looking at 20-30 minutes every 2-3 hours. The estimate for one year of breastfeeding is roughly 1600 hours (or more). It adds up quickly and can feel overwhelming. The good news is that it doesn't stay that time consuming forever. As time goes on, your infant will become a more efficient nursling and the time between feedings will be longer. Our advice? Take a deep breathe. Now take another. This season is TOUGH but it will pass, and we hope you can look back at those hours with pride in how hard you worked!
Yes, there is a physical toll. Producing milk round-the-clock, especially in those first few months where you are the sole source of nutrition is a BIG DEAL. Your body will take whatever vitamins, minerals, and energy it needs from your own stores to make the perfect milk for your baby. Mothers in their childbearing and lactating season need to be mindful of this and remember to nourish themselves. Eat well, hydrate well, and give yourself a pat on the back.
On the one hand, you will actually be more flexible than if you were reliant on formula and hot water access. Your breasts are always with you, and breastmilk is the perfect temp and ready to go!
On the other hand, you cannot be away from your baby for long periods unless you plan ahead and have milk available for them while you're gone. You'll also need to make sure you are emptying your breasts, with a pump or through hand expression, so you don't become engorged. Ouch!
This one is entirely up to you and your personal preferences. There are many items on the market that are optional but can make your life much simpler. Things like nursing bras, molded pillows, specialty clothing, etc. As fellow mothers with years of personal breastfeeding experience, these are some of our personal favorites:
Sunflower Lecithin (to help prevent and resolve clogged ducts)
At Richmond Birth and Baby, we firmly believe that breastfeeding is optimal, and fully worth the cost. However, we recognize that each mother, and each baby, have unique needs. Whether you nurse for 3 days, or 3 months, or 3 years, it's all a gift to your baby. ❤️
We also didn't discuss cost of getting help when you run into issues. A lot of moms struggle through breastfeeding problems instead of reaching out to an IBCLC because of finances. That's why we are so thankful to be partnered with the Lactation Newtwork and most major insurance companies. We are also able to submit any forms you need to file for reimbursement through your insurance.
Not sure if your plan covers lactation support? Go to the top of our page and click the "Lactation Insurance" tab. Fill out the form and it will let you know what is covered and what to do next.
Are you currently pregnant and hoping to nurse? Consider signing up for our class, The Milky Way, so you can get a head start!