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When I was pregnant, I thought I would nurse my son until he was a year old. In addition the nutrition benefits of breastmilk, we wouldn’t have to spend money on formula! However, as with my pregnancy (and probably raising kids in general!), our nursing experience didn’t go as expected. I wasn’t supplying nearly enough milk for my little one, even after taking supplements, seeing lactation consultants, and trying any and all advice that was given to me to increase my milk. So, after about four months, we decided to switch to formula. Although I felt bad about the decision at the time, it was what was best for me and my family.
That being said, in the time that I was nursing, there were quite a few expenses that racked up–mainly due to our latching issues and my undersupply. Once I hit the “total” button on the expenses below, I couldn’t believe it. One of the awesome things about breastmilk is that it is free, and yet I’ve spent more than $800 in this category!
My major expense was the lactation consultant, who we saw four times after being discharged from the hospital. I kept hearing from doctors and nurses that this would be covered by insurance, but we must not have the best plan (see my Delivery post for more on that!), and so we did end up paying for each one. We didn’t get the bill until all of the visits had been completed, and soon after that decided to stop seeing the consultant. While I wish these visits had been fully covered by insurance, I’m still grateful that we had them because our little one was not gaining enough weight and we were able to identify a few issues before they got worse.
The next big expense was the breast pump rental from the hospital. Although my breast pump was fully covered by insurance (yay!), my son was born two weeks early. In all of the excitement at the hospital, I didn’t call to update the “needed by” date, and so the pump arrived on his original due date. In the interim, I rented a hospital grade pump — the Medela Symphony — in order to establish my milk supply. They have a neat “initiate” setting that you can use in the days after delivery to jump start your milk supply. Once your milk comes in, you can use their “maintain” setting to keep it going. This takes the guess work out of setting your pump and gives you one less decision to make in those initial sleep-deprived days.
Then come a few items in the area of comfort. Nursing bras were the largest expenses here, along with hands-free pumping bras. Both were a good investment and ones that I would absolutely make again. Nursing pads and lanolin I wouldn’t have been able to live without. I also bought some nursing ice/heat gel packs, but never ended up using them.
The final group of expenses was because of the issues we were having. Nipple everters and shields were suggested by my lactation consultant, so we bought a few of those. I also started adding things into my diet that I wouldn’t have otherwise. Things like oatmeal and barley are supposed to increase milk supply, and I bought several extra canisters of these during my months of nursing. There is also a special lactation tea that has milk-inducing herbs, along with lactation drops that have a liquid form of the herbs. All of these were tried at the suggestion of my lactation consultant, and I wouldn’t recommend investing in these without a professional’s opinion.
Summary of expenses:
- Lactation consultant: $420
- Breast pump rental from hospital: $98
- Additional breast pump flange: $33
- Nursing bras: $70
- Pumping bras: $30
- Nursing pads: $8
- Lanolin: $6
- Nursing ice/heat packs: $13
- Nursing cover: $33
- Nipple everter: $12
- Nipple shield: $7
- Extra oatmeal: $15
- Extra malt powder: $10
- Milk supply tea: $14
- Milk supply drops: $34
TOTAL SPENT ON NURSING: $803
(In my case, I could have done without the everter and the ice/heat packs, as I never even opened them. Moms with an adequate milk supply, no latching issues, and without a need to pump regularly would definitely save in this category, as you may be able to do without the bolded items.)