According to an article in today's Chicago Tribune it appears that breast feeding can save parents much money, as much as $1,000 - $3,000 a year.
As a mother who nursed and pumped breast milk for her child for 13 months I agree that nursing and developing breast milk is a cost saver. However, I believe these costs mentioned above from the article likely reflect women who don't work or who are not pumping breast milk, but instead who are primarily nursing.
Around four months after my daughter Sarah was born I needed to go back to work. However, I did not want to stop providing this wonderful source of nutrition for her. So, with this change in my schedule and our nursing routine there came some additional costs including a breast pump and parts, breast milk storage solutions, bottles and nipples, nursing bras (not something every pumping mom uses) and a nursing cover.
Another cost, approximately $200, and one I did not expect, but was well worth it, was that of a lactation consultant. Despite reading as much information on nursing and trying various feeding positions and getting wonderful support at the hospital before coming home with Sarah, I had some challenges with feeding Sarah on my right breast. When I realized, jokingly of course, that I couldn't just feed Sarah from my left breast and ignore the issue, the support of the lactation consultant helped me to find ways to get Sarah to latch on properly, and she did. The funny thing is that my right breast ended up being the one that produced more milk regularly than my left throughout the year.
Further, for me, I was extremely fortunate to receive as a baby gift an electronic breast pump, which I loved and appreciated tremendously, and used daily for well over a year. A high-quality electronic breast pump with a manual option (which I did use in the car a number of times), which can cost as much as $250-$300, is a great necessity for a mother, especially one who works outside of home. While electronic breast pumps are not a necessity for pumping mothers there are other less expensive and manual options that are good choices too. For me the electronic pump was a time saver and worked well to achieve Sarah's breast milk needs along with nursing.
While there is indeed a great cost savings with breastfeeding, and one I was thankful to save over the time, for working mothers there is a significant amount of time that needs to be invested to collect this valuable nutrition, which many who work may not have the flexibility to do due to their work environment or schedules.
So, while there is cost savings with breastfeeding, and something worth considering, assess your situation to determine what is best for you and your growing baby.
I am so thrilled that I nursed and provided breast milk for Sarah, but it did come with some challenges. There is a possibility of breast clogs and infections such as mastitis, which I experienced a few times. With a great lactation consultant as support and that of my wonderful husband, I was able to continue to succeed with providing breast milk for Sarah for as long as I did.
I would like to share with you some valuable advice from a dear friend of mine (thanks Fiona) that you can choose to take or not. Try, if you are able to nurse, to do so for at least one month before deciding whether to stop or continue. The first month of breast feeding comes with trials and tribulations for mommy and baby and is certainly an adjustment period, and one that can be tough too. Nursing is not for everyone and only you can decide what is right for you. Give it a chance if you can and want to, and if it works for you, and your child responds well to it, it is a wonderful means of nutrition and bonding, something I am so happy to have experienced.