I’m always thrilled when I see someone decide to breastfeed. The reason is because prior to becoming a breastfeeding mom, I felt that there was a strong pull to use formula instead. My mother struggled with breastfeeding, gave up, and turned to formula. When my younger brother was born, she went straight to formula. I didn’t see anyone breastfeed their child until I was an adult. Growing up, I had no role models. There was no one to ask, and I really didn’t think about breastfeeding until my first pregnancy.
When I was pregnant the first time, I bought pregnancy books and books about other subjects including breastfeeding. I signed up for a breastfeeding class offered through the hospital. I also talked about the subject non-stop. My mother gave words of caution. My few breastfeeding friends gave words of encouragement, and the hospital gave gift bags, which mostly included information from formula manufacturers. The message was mixed. So when I say that I’m thrilled to see another person choosing to breastfeed, I understand that they probably waded through a lot of different messages to make their final decision.
What was the tipping point for me? Well, there were a number of reasons, but the one that stood out was money. I’m a fairly frugal person. I hate to waste money on needless things. I think I was born that way. When I looked at the cost of using formula, I was completely astounded. I’d need thirty dollars to buy a can of powdered formula, and that’s the cheapest type. Then I would need additional money for all the bottles. Let’s see feeding every four hours is six bottles for one whole day. Perhaps I won’t feel up to washing bottles every single day, which would require more bottles. Of course this list doesn’t include the things that make using formula easier like bottle sterilizers and bottle warmers. The cost to breastfeed is zero dollars.
I’m not saying breastfeeding doesn’t have costs. I can always buy or rent a breast pump. I can buy storage bags. I own one bottle, so if I need to, I can always have someone else feed my children. I also have some nice nursing apparel. The difference is that with breastfeeding none of these things are necessary. With formula feeding you need formula and a bottle; that costs money.
There are also the hidden cost benefits. I’ve mentioned my brother. When he was young, he had multiple ear infections. He had to have tubes put in his ear, and because this didn’t happen until he was a toddler, he developed speech problems. The speech problems required a speech therapist when he was older. This all cost my parents money.
When I looked into the benefits of breastfeeding, one of the things I noticed was that children who are breastfed are less sick. In addition, they have fewer ear infections which is a major contributor to speech deficiencies and delays. My 1.5 year old son has had one ear infection his entire life. Therefore, we’ve had fewer trips to the doctor, which cost money. My husband has also had to take less time off from work, which also costs money.
Breastfeeding is better for the environment, better for the health of the mother, and better for the child. In the end, money was the biggest reason for not using formula. I’m so glad that I’ve never given formula a second though since. There are so many better ways I can spend money.
Article by Laura Weirich
Laura Weirich has been married for four years and has two sons. She's been breastfeeding for nearly two years and currently tandem nurses her toddler and infant. A big proponent of breastfeeding, she's been educating her friends and family about the benefits of breastfeeding and helping other women along the way. When she's not nursing, she chases a toddler all day, washes cloth diapers, tries to catch a few zs and reads up on the latest research about children.
Laura has written 33 awesome articles for Natural Family Today.
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