A Day Late and a Dollar Saved. {World Breastfeeding Week}

So I’ve been meaning to get around to writing this post all week, but as the story of my life goes, I’m a day late.  I’m used to it by now, though.

World Breastfeeding Week is {was} August 1-7, 2012.  I am a breastfeeder, and I think breastfeeding is wonderful and amazing and fantastic.  If it’s the right choice for you and your family, of course.  Because breastfeeding isn’t always the right choice.  I’ve written before that I don’t care how babies get fed as long as they are being fed.  That will always be the case for me.  With all the horrible things that happen to some babies at the hands of their parents, feeding a baby formula is not even a blip on the radar screen.  Cole had a few bottles of formula before my milk came in.  Guess what?  Didn’t kill him.  As long as a baby is receiving adequate nutrition, I don’t care if it’s coming from a breast or a bottle.  You do what’s right for you and your baby and your mental and physical well-being.  That is what makes us good mothers.

With that said, I’d like to talk about my reasons for breastfeeding.  I don’t buy into the “breast is best and formula is poison” line being touted by lactivists and breastfeeders with a superiority complex over their mammary glands.  Breastmilk is great.  Formula is also great.  And at first, I honestly didn’t much care for nursing.  It was painful for a few weeks.  It took up all of my time.  Seriously, for the first few weeks of Cole’s life I felt like I was in a constant cycle of nurse, nap, diaper, nurse, nap, diaper.  It was such a sudden shock to my system, not having the freedom to go and do that I was accustomed to having {even though I was recovering from major abdominal surgery and should have been taking it easy anyway}.  But after about six weeks, it just kind of clicked.  I got over the whole nursing in public thing, ordered my nursing cover, and found the confidence to whip it out anywhere I needed to feed my baby.  I talked to a friend who was also nursing when I was feeling frustrated in those first six weeks and wanted to throw in the towel, and she encouraged me to stick with it for just a few more weeks.  So I did.  And even with all the bonding and the sweet midnight cuddles and the cute little sounds babies make when they nurse and the milk drunk faces that come with a belly full of breastmilk, I am so so very happy that I stuck with breastfeeding for one main reason.

MONEY.

Breastfeeding has saved us so much money over the past three years.  Literally thousands of dollars.  With Cole, formula feeding wouldn’t have been a very big deal because our household income was much higher when he was a baby.  But when your husband leaves a very well-paying job with a company car and gas card and stock options to go into nonprofit work?  And then you find out you are expecting a little surprise?  Yeah, every dollar matters.

I knew I would breastfeed our second child for all the reasons I mentioned, but again, the main reason would be for the savings.  I priced it out one time.  A $22 container of Target Up & Up powdered formula makes about 30 bottles.  My babies nursed 7-8 times a day for the first six months or so, so that would put me at 2 40-oz cans of formula per week.  Roughly $160 per month, and then decreasing slightly as they got older and took less bottles.  So I probably would have spent about $1,600 for Cole, and the same for Cannon.  I don’t have an extra $160 per month right now.  Nearly every dollar is budgeted.  And what if they had allergies or tummy troubles and needed special formula?  A 16-oz can of Alimentum costs nearly $30.  I don’t even want to do that math.  So I literally do not know where the money would come from to purchase formula.  I would have to pick up overtime at work or something just to pay for it.

Yes, there are a lot of reasons why women choose to breastfeed.  It’s natural, it’s convenient, it’s a “bonding experience” or whatever, yadda yadda yadda.  But for me, it all comes down to the Almighty Dollar.  Breastfeeding is hella cheap.  Aside from the initial cost of the pump, breastfeeding is free.  I am very aware of how fortunate I am that breastfeeding came easily to me with both my children, and that I am able to breastfeed them for extended periods.  I nursed Cole for 16 months and had a large enough freezer stash to get him to 18 months on breastmilk.  I am on track to make it to the year mark pumping for Cannon, and then I will nurse him until he or I get tired of it {it will probably be me}.  I am fortunate that I have a very supportive husband who understands why I breastfeed and also understands why it is frustrating sometimes but encourages me when I am just tired of it {or when a baby decides to use my nipple as a chew toy}.  He understands that our family benefits from my choice to breastfeed.  It has been a wonderful experience, and if we have another child I will definitely do it again.

I am not going to say that I want to encourage every mother to breastfeed.  I want to encourage mothers to do what is right for them.  Sometimes that means breastfeeding their babies, and I want to encourage them in that endeavor.  Sometimes it means exclusively pumping, and I definitely want to encourage those mothers because seriously, you are saints.  Sometimes it means formula feeding, and I want to not only encourage those mothers, but to shield them from the ignorant jerks in this world that tell them they are poisoning their baby or putting their own needs before their child’s.  Seriously, people say that to new mothers.  And I strongly believe that a happy mother equals a happy baby.  So let’s just get over this battle of the Mommy Wars and not stick our noses in other people’s business about how they decide to feed their child.  As long as the baby is healthy and happy and the mother is healthy and happy, that is all that matters.

And you know what makes me happy?  Savin’ some moolah.  But I will definitely be happy when I get to go all Office Space on my pump.


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