Tired of hearing that breastfeeding was 'free,' one mom tracked a years-worth of breastfeeding expenses to disprove the myth once and for all.

By Libby Ryan
August 09, 2019
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How many times have you heard someone online, usually a nonparent, say that breastfeeding is free? (It’s not.) Or worse, that it’s the obvious alternative to formula feeding because of it’s free? (It’s not.) One woman on Reddit tracked the cost of her breastfeeding journey for more than a year to disprove that irritatingly widespread myth. Her results: Breastfeeding for a year as a working mom costs nearly $600.

Her expenses included a nursing bra, a pumping bra, breast pads, bottles, freezer bags, a cooler, wipes, and a Boppy. Then there were the larger items, like a travel pump. It all adds up—in her case, it added up to $598. And the sum “does not include cost of my time (because #@$% how do you even quantify or track that? I mean, I don’t charge my husband for the time it takes to cook our dinner) or dishwashing soap for pump parts,” so the actual number is likely higher, the mom wrote under the username Crock-pot-of-doom.

“I bristle whenever anyone says breastfeeding is free and there are no bottles to wash,” she said. “Because for me (and I’m guessing a lot of other working mothers) it certainly isn’t free and I have bottles and pump parts to be washed every day.”

When she took a prenatal breastfeeding class, she said she was let down by the information she was given on the realities of being a working mom who wants to breastfeed.

"Now with the experience of actually doing it, the message of “free” and “easy” really rubbed me the wrong way," the mom said via Reddit message. "Don’t get me wrong, I love breastfeeding. I just wish there had been more realistic talk about what one may need. I would have registered for a lot more of the stuff on my list if I’d have known I’d need it."

The mom said she has “run the gamut of breastfeeding” as a working mom who travels frequently for work.

“I have breastfed solely while home on maternity leave (12 weeks). Breast- and bottle-fed pumped milk when back at work (12 weeks on). Taken my baby on travel to Rome at 4 months old for work and breastfed on the plane, on top of St. Peter’s basilica, on ancient ruins at the Roman Forum. Pumped and brought milk back from Finland because otherwise, I wouldn’t have enough of a stash for my next trip,” she shared. “Pumped and dumped in airplane bathrooms, in airport bathrooms, in hotel bathrooms, in bar bathrooms just to keep my supply up while on-site surveys and at conferences. It has been great and easy but also extremely hard at times, if that makes any sense at all.”

She said she made the tallied cost to help out any other “pregnant mama who is wondering how the hell this all works and how much it costs.” The mom also passed along some tips for the new breastfeeding moms out there, such as using canning jars instead of freezer bags to cut down on possible leaks in a purse.

“Do I think it is worth it? For me, yes. For anyone else? They have to do their own math and decide," she said. "I also have had an exceptionally easy breastfeeding experience and still some days it is draining.”

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