Friday, August 26, 2011

How much money have I saved by breastfeeding?

I came across a post on Twitter where a mom claimed to have saved just over $2000 by breastfeeding instead of formula feeding. It got me to much money have I saved by breastfeeding?

Let's start counting costs I've incurred while breastfeeding at the beginning, when I started nursing Benjamin. I worked out of the home for 6 months, and then have been home to feed him and Miriam ever since. I do not offer bottles when I am available to nurse, so Miriam has had a bottle offered only 1 time and she refused it. There's been no point in bottle-training her since I am a stay at home mom now, so I didn't push it:

Breastfeeding Introduction Class: offered for free by my birthing center = $0
Breastpump for returning to work: got a second-hand Medela PIS = $50
New tubing and flanges for pump: bought on clearance = $5 for tubing, $8 for flanges
Bottles: bought a 3 pack of Dr. Brown's bottles = $16
Bottlebrush: $5
Breastmilk storage bags: I used Lanisoh's Breastmilk Bags, an average of 1 pack per month for the 6 months I pumped = $60
Reuseable nursing pads: I made these myself or received them as promotional gifts = $0
Disposable nursing pads: These were thinner under my work clothes, used Lanisoh's brand, an average of 1 box/month for 2 years = $118
Nursing shawl: I purchased a fancy custom-made shawl I rarely use because I am comfortable nursing without a cover in public, but I didn't start out that way = $40

Benjamin did get a good amount of formula in those 6 months that I worked, to supplement what I couldn't pump. So if I factor in the 8 cans of Target brand Gentile Formula we used, it would add $118 to our feeding costs.

My total cost in breastfeeding my 2 children (with the small amount of formula supplementation) = $420

a lazy morning nursing session in bed
Morning nursing session in bed on a lazy Saturday

Now, if we had exclusively formula fed Benjamin, our formula costs would be much higher. I found an online chart that broke down the average amount of formula drunk per day, but it only accounted for up to 6 months of age. Because babies can begin to be offered solid foods at 6 months of age, I would assume that the average amount of formula consumed would stay constant from 6-12 months, with the additional calories needed ingested in the form of solid foods. According to this chart (which, when compared to other online charts, falls right in the middle of the low vs high amounts of formula per day), a child will consume roughly 11,490 ounces of formula in 1 year. The Up & Up brand of Gentle Formula (which was what Benjamin tolerated), costs $14.80 for 80 ounces. 11,490/80=143.625x$14.80 = $2,125.65 for a one year supply of powdered formula.

Miriam has a casein allergy, so she cannot have dairy products. She also likely has a soy allergy (very common in babies that have a CSM allergy) So, formula feeding her would require an elemental formula. These formulas are available to us by prescription only, but would not be covered by insurance. Each can retails at $32.98 and makes 80fl oz. Keeping with the same averages that we used in calculating Benjamin's formula cost, we would assume that Miriam would also take in roughly 11,490 ounces in one year. That's a total cost of $4,738.75 for a years worth of formula!

Add in cost of bottles = $16 (assuming we're cool with lots of washing and can work with 3 bottles in our cabinets)
Bottle brush = $5
Formula travel dispenser = $7

Total cost for formula feeding my 2 children for only one year each = $6,892.40

nursing & bottlefeeding!
Nursing my daughter while formula feeding a nanny charge on yet another lazy Saturday morning

WOW! Look at that! I saved $6,472.40 by choosing to feed my child naturally by breastfeeding!! Of course, this doesn't take into account any of the potential medical savings for either my kids or myself (that's right, breastfeeding lowers my risk of common cancers!) over our lifetime.

These simple calculations mean a lot to me, considering that I initially chose to breastfeed purely for the monetary savings. Since then, the act of breastfeeding has developed to hold so much more meaning to me than frugality. As science attempts to create substitutes to rival Mother's Milk, it only furthers my education in how wonderful God made my body and how he designed it to nurture my children. No amount of money saved will ever compare to that!

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