When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew I was going to breastfeed. I bought all the things I thought I would need to facilitate my new job — the most expensive electric pumps, hi-tech bottles, a beautiful nursing cover, and lots of expensive storage bags; I barely used any of it. If you are planning to breastfeed, and have encountered the numerous gadgets, tools, and available support options, you might wonder, how much does breastfeeding cost?
The number will be different for every mom. According to International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) Angie Mann Natero, some moms will spend money on things related to breastfeeding which may not always be necessary. "One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is that the financial cost can quite literally be free," Natero says. She adds that, in comparison to the costs associated with buying infant formula, breastfeeding costs are notably minimal.
Moms who are planning to continue breastfeeding while going back to work will need pumps, storage bags, and bottles. Breast pumps can be provided by your insurance, or can range from $12 for a handheld pump to $400 for a fancy electric pump kit, with tons of options in between.
IBCLC Lori Atkins of Oh Baby Lactation Care tells Romper that there is another cost to breastfeeding that isn't often considered. "One of the things that doesn't routinely get counted is the time moms spend feeding," she says.
The time a mom puts in to breastfeeding may not have a fixed cost, but as Benjamin Franklin often said, "time is money," and the time put into breastfeeding can take away from work hours, as well as sleep, relaxation, and other baby duties, like cleaning or laundry.
Because breastfeeding can be hard, enlisting the help of a lactation consultant can be beneficial. Natero tells Romper that many hospitals and doctor offices provide free lactation support, but some lactation consultants can charge a few hundred dollars for a private session, so it really depends on your situation.
If you are planning to breastfeed, it's important to evaluate your situation. For me, as a stay at home mom, breastfeeding was virtually free, but for a working mom, or a mom who is experiencing difficulties breastfeeding, there may be a financial cost. At the end of the day, because breastfeeding is so beneficial for both mom and baby, the benefits definitely outweigh the expense.