How Much Breastfeeding Has Cost Me: An Honest Account (And No, I Didn’t Have Laser Therapy)

There has been a viral Tiktok video going around of a girl comparing the cost of breastfeeding vs formula feeding. Why do we feel the need to constantly compare the way we feed our babies? Breastfeeding vs formula feeding is a (frankly, stupid and pointless) debate I see constantly online. It’s not a competition – both are great forms of nutrition and the important thing is that we are feeding our babies (see my post on that topic here). It doesn’t even end there though – people continue to fight over feeding methods when it comes to solids introduction with BLW vs purées. Neither is right or wrong in either of these scenarios – it’s preference/scenario based, and we should respect each mothers or parents choice because it’s their life and their baby, not ours.

These constant battles over how we raise our children just create stigma and further increase early motherhood/postpartum isolation. Moms feel segregated into groups based on the way they feed their baby – that isn’t normal. That isn’t the goal. As women and mothers we should be working to lift each other up and support one another’s goals and choices.

I see some of that online – more now than before, but there is still a lot of judgment too. In my mind, if whatever parenting choice you make is safe, then even if I wouldn’t do it, I don’t need to pass judgment on you. Even if it’s unsafe – there is a better way to address these issues than via online bullying or ‘subtweets’. You can be an adult and approach someone about a topic using real, grown-up language. Who knew?!

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*Disclaimer: This blog is intended for informational purposes only. The information on this blog should not be used as a substitute to medical advice or medical treatment. As always, your Primary Care Provider, a doctor, or another health professional is your best resource for specific questions and medical advice. If you believe you or a loved one are experiencing a medical emergency, please contact 911.*

All that being said, I think this video I’m referring to has presented an unfair representation of breastfeeding costs. It talks about laser therapy and other items I *personally* didn’t use, or that weren’t expensive/necessary.

I think that both formula feeding and breastfeeding can add up – if you need a lot of assistance; if you have to try multiple formulas; there are many reasons they may end up costing you a bit. The items this girl lists in her video are just extra though, and I worry that people may be deterred from trying to breastfeed (even if they want to – in which case they should be supported in that venture) because of the thought that they might need to dish out money for laser therapy (I am still not sure what laser therapy she was referring to).

So here is an honest & real account of what I spent money on as a breastfeeding mom, and I’ll make sure to highlight anything I still spend money on now (at almost 9 months of EBF).

Nursing Bras

Do you need these? Not necessarily – I mean it would not be impossible to survive without them. Are they convenient and nice to have? Yes. In some situations, especially if you live in the US and are returning to work sooner, you may need them to facilitate pumping easier.

You may just want to have them, even if you’re at home on maternity leave (some days I wear no bra but I admit I wear them a lot even at home for comfort).

Personally, I bought nursing bras while I was pregnant because I knew I wanted to try breastfeeding and frankly – I needed new bras because my other ones were getting a bit… tight. So I figured – why not just get the ones I’m planning to use postpartum? I got two “nicer” ones – from Motherhood Maternity; one I won in a contest run by Carry Maternity; and the others I got from Amazon for a very affordable price (I talked more about the bras in detail in this post). I also wear sports bras regularly – some I had before that were bigger and others I grabbed from Costco (actually my husband did – he wins).

Bras are such a personal buy. What you choose to do as a nursing mom regarding your bra is just as personal – I’m sure some people are able to manage in sports bras, no bra, or a regular bra. I personally like having the clips – I find it makes life easier when we’re on the go in particular. I often don’t wear a bra at home but if I know we might step out I in the very least put a sports bra on. One thing I will say that is if you wear a normal bra – get a looser one or choose to wear a looser one. If you have to lift it up you don’t want it to put pressure on your upper breast as it may contribute to clogged ducts or mastitis. You also want to make sure any bra you’re using is comfortable and fits properly for the same reasons.

My overall cost for bras: probably around 100$ – but you could easily just grab a few from Amazon, or the cheaper Motherhood ones and spend less. Or, based on preference – not spend at all. Your choice – like I said, bras are such a personal purchase.

Haakaa (Silicone Breast Pump)

Both ‘versions’ of this item I have (again, spoke more in detail about them here) were on my baby registry. I recommend taking a look at this post to see the items I put on my baby registry that we still use.

This item is a “most used” item for me – the ‘base’ model is also super affordable at only 18.99$ CAD on Amazon. It’s used to catch let-down from your other breast as you nurse – and some women have a lot of success with it in terms of building a freezer stash (some don’t though – you have to try to know I guess). I also used it many times early on to relieve any engorgement I had – sometimes I’d have to hand express a bit but sometimes I’d just suction it on and it would come pouring out haha – either way it was a big help to me.

Do you need it? Nope. Total preference. Also if you’re using an electronic pump you may not want it. Or you may just want no-pump at all. Totally ok and based on what your plan is.

Total cost? 0$ – as I put it on my registry. However if I had purchased it – 18.99$ CAD. Really not a big expense if you do want it.

Spectra S2 Breast Pump

A pump is not a necessary item – as I mentioned above, it depends on your plan + your needs. If you’re returning to work – you may need one, depending on what your plan/goals are in regards to breastfeeding. If you want to exclusively pump or pump regularly – then you do need one.

I thought I needed one (I feel like pumping isn’t talked about enough in pregnancy/postpartum? I felt very uninformed with regards to my “needs”) – so I was lucky enough to have one gifted to me from a family member. However, I admit I haven’t even used it but I’m glad I have it in case of an emergency, for when I return to work (I’m still undecided what I want to do with breastfeeding at 1 yr), and for the early days we might have used it (we just got it after the “need” passed unfortunately). I may use it with my next baby – who knows!

Needed? Depends on your breastfeeding/pumping goals + situation. If you plan to pump exclusively or to pump regularly to build a storage – then I suggest putting one on a registry (big ticket item for family) or buying one via insurance (US, sometimes Canada but depends on your plan). If you’re not sure – wait a bit! If you need one, you can always grab it after baby is born, or bonus – you can rent them from hospitals and pharmacies (though this can be expensive depending on length).

Cost? Gifted – 0$ for me. The prices vary though – do your research, ask for recommendations. Look into your insurance plan to see what you qualify for, if anything!

Lactation Consultant

Well, lucky me living in Canada where the costs of some IBCLC services are covered by the Ontario health plan (OHIP). I know this is not the case for everyone – however this is also a service you should check with your insurance regarding because you might have some coverage depending on the situation!

There are also many IBCLCs who practice independently in my province and who charge – these may also be covered by employment insurance companies. Again – something to look into in advance if you can to know what you are covered for and prepare for what you might need.

That being said – not everyone needs the assistance of a lactation consultant. Some people have their baby’s latch on once perfectly and everything just goes smoothly from there. Some have troubles but are able to seek assistance from a knowledgeable provider. However, there is a large population of people who benefit from the services of a lactation consultant – and if you are one of them, then this may be an expense you need to consider.

Needed? Again – another maybe. Some people do, some people don’t. I think they can be extremely beneficial in many situations. However, I understand that if someone doesn’t have coverage they may also be out of the books. You can seek advice from your care provider who may have some additional breastfeeding-related knowledge, but it likely won’t be the same as a lactation consultants expertise.

Cost? For me – 0$. I never had to see one, though in my area of Ontario their services are offered within the provincial healthcare plan at no additional cost through public health in many areas as well as in hospital. Prices vary in regards to private practice services.

Nipple Cream

I used Lansinoh nipple cream in the first 2 months postpartum quite a bit. For me, it was a must have – however I also used coconut oil for the same purpose (sore nipples of course) and found it to be just as effective. Only thing I can say about Lansinoh is that I liked the tube it came in for if I had to leave the house.

Needed? Depends I’d say most people probably benefit from using some type of cream on their nipples especially in the early days of breastfeeding. Like I said – I used coconut oil and Lansinoh pretty much interchangeably and there are other options out there. It is definitely a ‘trial and error’ product in that one cream might really help someone but not another person.

Cost? Lansinoh nipple cream costs under 9$ CAD on Amazon. Unless you’re lathering it on, one tube was enough. I still have so much left since I was also using coconut oil. Coconut oil is available at grocery stores for varying prices, but they’re about the same (I should note that I didn’t buy the coconut oil specifically for my nipples – I actually bought it originally for labour and perineal use, then forgot it in the car, so we ended up using it on Maggie’s bum before her first poop – made a huge difference! Multi-purpose oil). There are also other brands of cream you can try for different prices, if you want.

Nursing Friendly Clothes

I can tell you right now I got one tank top that has clips for nursing – I love it because it allows me to not wear a bra which is super comfortable. I got this as part of the prize from Carry Maternity with the nursing bra I mentioned earlier… so I didn’t pay for it.

Needed? No. You can make most clothes nursing friendly on your own – I still wear a lot of maternity tank tops which are stretchy and easy to pull down. I also just bought clothes postpartum (secondhand, I love Value Village and Talize) that work for nursing. I owned clothes previously that work for nursing. Do I still wear other shirts? Yep, and I make it work. There are obviously some things that aren’t nursing friendly at all and I just don’t wear those things when I know I’ll be nursing (which is pretty much always).

Cost? I personally spent 0$ on buying clothes specifically for nursing other than my bras. I have thrifted some shirts but they weren’t necessarily for nursing but rather just shirts I liked that conveniently also allow me to nurse with ease. At home I wear t-shirts which aren’t really “nursing friendly” but I’m at home so I just pull my shirt up or take it off. Most dresses for summer were super convenient for nursing. Bikinis – nursing friendly. It’s not that complicated.

Things She Listed I Didn’t Use At All

  • ?Laser therapy – I read this was in reference to nipple pain treatment (didn’t know that was a thing) but then someone also mentioned laser therapy for babies with tongue ties. Neither of these situations applied to me. Babies do get this for tongue ties sometimes, but whether or not you pay out of pocket for this depends on 1) where you live; 2) your insurance; and 3) where you go for the procedure/who performs it.
  • Medication – I personally did not need any. I was prescribed one thing that was breastfeeding related – APNO (all purpose nipple ointment), but I never ended up filling the Rx as my Lansinoh + coconut oil did the trick. I experienced clogged ducts twice early on, but never mastitis so no medication needed.
  • Nipple shields – this is a common item that is used by a lot of people. Personally, I never needed them. I can tell you that they are generally not expensive – they’re on Amazon by brands like Lansinoh and Medela for ~15$ CAD.
  • Milk supply boosters – early on, when my milk had not come in, a midwife of mind recommended trying a booster however like a day later, my milk came in and I didn’t need to try anything, so I never spent any money on this. I know many women who have used them, and many who haven’t. Whether you want to use this is up to you really – it’s not a necessity for everyone.

Things She Didn’t List I Did Use

  • Nursing pads (reusable and disposable) – I use these everyday, what type depends on my plans. I use the reusable ones at home (under 8$ CAD for a pack of 6 on Amazon), and the disposable ones (Lansinoh, 100-count for 10.97$ CAD) when I’m out. I still leak a lot at almost 9 months postpartum so I wear these and have bought a few boxes of the disposable ones/a few packs of the reusable ones as well.
  • Milk storage bags – another Lansinoh product I love, I use these bags to store my Haakaa milk in the freezer. They lay flat and store easily! Just make sure they’re sealed up tight. I don’t store a ton necessarily, so I haven’t had to purchase these very often.

Total spending on breastfeeding: ~149$. If I had bought the Haakaa myself + the pump, it of course would have been a bit more so my situation isn’t realistic for everyone, but I know many people can get some kind of coverage for a pump through insurance and if they can’t my recommendation is to put it on your registry, purchase in advance during pregnancy (save up over time), or rent one! So many options to make breastfeeding more accessible and affordable.

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