Plenty of moms can tell you that breastfeeding isn’t always easy or cheap, but one woman went ahead and proved it — and she has the receipts.
Reddit user Crock-pot-of-doom tracked her expenses during the first year of her daughter’s life. The bill came to $598 for all of her breastfeeding supplies and devices for the year.
That’s pretty far from “free,” which is a frequent selling point for breastfeeding over formula feeding. Crock-pot-of-doom notes that she’s a working mom who travels for work, meaning she had to make the extra investment in pumps and milk storage containers. She did get one pump for free from her insurance company but bought two more — including a hand pump that didn’t work — over the course of the year.
“I bristle whenever anyone says breastfeeding is free and there are no bottles to wash, 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 everyday,” wrote the user in her post. “Do I think it is worth it? For me, yes. For anyone else? They have to do their own math and decide.”
Other moms have pointed out the true costs of breastfeeding in the past. In a piece for Forbes, Kavin Senapathy pinpoints five ways that breastfeeding isn’t free, including less-measurable costs like lost work opportunities and a temporary loss of bodily autonomy. Glamour’s Sarah Bregel wrote about the expensive “must-haves” that overwhelmed her in the early days of nursing her first child — many of which turned out to be unnecessary.
I also found myself spending money on various devices and potions when I nursed my first kid, searching desperately for ways to make it all easier.
Clearly, breastfeeding is a cheaper option than formula feeding. The price of formula adds up, especially in the first months of life when babies eat heartily and often. But with breastfeeding, while the food itself is free, it has other costs that perhaps don’t get counted appropriately.
“Now with the experience of actually doing it, the message of ‘free’ and ‘easy’ really rubbed me the wrong way,” the Reddit writer told Parents. “Don’t get me wrong, I love breastfeeding. I just wish there had been more realistic talk about what one may need.”