The Cost of Things: One Year of Breastfeeding

by Christina Rentz

Ever since I read Meaghan’s comment, “I will say that part of me is convinced that there can be no feminism with breastfeeding,” I have been discussing it with everyone from my mom friends to my dental hygienist. I feel the truth of this statement everyday when I think of the work events I can’t attend, the trips I cannot take, and the sleep I am not getting. I know it is a choice, but I don’t think anyone understands what that choice really entails until, as Meaghan said, we are too “in it.” Breastfeeding is not free. It takes its toll on your marriage, your job, your other children (if you have them), and sometimes your sanity.

Below is a breakdown of the actual monetary cost of one year of breastfeeding. I can’t put a price on my sanity, but I can tell you that my son and I cheerfully weaned each other days before his first birthday and never looked back.

Nursing Bras:

$100: sleep bras and daytime bras, all purchased at Target. I am lucky I didn’t need any special order action.
$40: a sports bra so that I could exercise to maintain my sanity.
$0: (luckily) for a double-pump bra that should have cost $30+ so that I can pump hands’ free at work. My friend didn’t use hers and so passed it on to me.

Boppy Pillow:

$0 (would have been $30): Essential. Another hand-me-down. I got nervous when I didn’t have my Boppy with me at all times. My baby liked to just lay on us when he was tiny even when he wasn’t nursing.

Breast Pump & Accessories:

$50 : Donation to the Diaper Bank of NC. Breast pumps are supposed to be single use and there is a real health reason behind it, but I got one from my friend who barely used hers and saved $300.
$23: Medela Breast pump accessories kit; $10 new tubing
$19 $9 for PersonalFit connectors and $10 for shields, when I very painfully realized after two weeks that the regular parts didn’t work for me.
$9 New connectors when I melted a set in the dishwasher.
$265 Nursing pads (via Amazon Subscribe & Save). Two for daytime and two for nighttime.
$168: Breastmilk storage bags (also via Amazon Subscribe & Save). I used about 4 per day at work.
$20: Cooler bag to transport milk home from work.

Misc. supplies:

$9: Lanolin that I didn’t really use.
$10: “Soothies.” MAGIC in those first few days
$30: Netflix subscription (3 months) to binge watch Friday Night Lights while nursing every two hours.
$0 (hand-me-down; would have been $25): Nursing shawl so that I can pump at my desk in my shared office thanks to my tolerant & awesome co-workers.
$48: 6 pairs of stick-on heating pads that I wore to try to help release the seemingly endless series of clogged ducts
$20: 4 bottles of soy Lecithin supplements to attempt to prevent aforementioned clogged ducts.
$42: 3 bottles of prenatal vitamins, continued throughout breastfeeding.
$180 $4 a week for 9 months of Nutter Butter cookies, which I ate nightly until my son slept through the night.
$0: Deep Freezer graciously left on my in-law’s driveway so we could store all of the milk and it would last longer than in the smaller freezer.

TOTAL: $1043

My second son was born just over four months ago, and I am planning to nurse him as long as I did his big brother. The reason I am choosing to do this again is because I can, because I have the luxury of an understanding husband, tolerant co-workers, and bosses who support parents in the workplace. And, of course, the Nutter Butter cookies. However, you will never hear me say that breastfeeding is “easy” or “free” or even “better.” Choose your choice, mamas, because whatever it is, it’s the best for your baby and your family.

Christina Rentz lives in Durham, NC with her husband and two sons. She is counting down the days until she can stop talking about her boobs.

Photo via unitedsoybean, ha

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