I was debating what to write about for Mom Monday. Since I’m not at home, I’m not being “mom” right now. Of course I’m always a mother, it’s a huge part of my identity, but being while being by myself is something wonderful, and amazing, it’s also something I have not experienced for this length of time since becoming a mom. That’s 12 years, 13 if you count pregnancy without a full day to myself ever. Nearly 6 of those years I was nursing.
When I became a mom for the first time I was a very young 21, and I threw myself fully into being the best mom I could. As we had more children I realized how much being a mother means you have to give of yourself. You don’t just share your body with your child for 9 months. You share your self and a part of your heart with them for the rest of your life.
Those early months of being a mother can be tough. Thankfully I had my son at a Birth Center where they ran a new mother’s group which I started attending when he was just 5 days old. I learned so much, and felt so embraced and loved in that group of women. One of the things that had the biggest impact on me was seeing other moms nurse. I knew I would breastfeed. There was no question about that for me, but seeing them I learned new ways to hold the baby, new ways to get the baby to latch one, and so much more. Why was there no doubt?
- My mom nursed my sister and I back when it wasn’t cool.
- I was (and am) a bit of a granola hippie, so natural is best, and some of the ingredients in formula is plain scary.
- We had little money, so bottlefeeding at the tune of $1,000+ a year wasn’t going to happen.
How does this relate to personal finance?
Breastfeeding relates to centsible personal finance because living within our means, and really well below them, is the key to giving families time to adjust to having a new baby and establish a breastfeeding relationship.
One of the reasons I was able to nurse for so long with each of my children was that we took the time to establish a good nursing relationship in the early weeks. With my oldest we had no major obligations (no mortgage, no car payments, etc.) so we were able to live off of one small income. With my other children I was a stay at home mom which involves many sacrifices for our family. It’s not always easy, but it’s always been worth it.
It also relates to personal finance because bottlefeeding is just more expensive, but the cost doesn’t end with the cost of bottles and formula.
The True Cost of Formula Feeding
I mentioned the $1,000+ number above as the cost to the family, but CNN ran an article titled “Lack of breastfeeding costs lives, billions of dollars” that shares real cost of formula feeding. The study found that if 80-90% of US women nursed until 4-6 months 911 lives and $13 billion dollars would be saved. EVERY YEAR. That’s right over 900 children AND $13,000,000 could be saved each year by the simple act of breastfeeding your infant. Currently 14% of moms nurse until 6 months of age according to the latest statistics.
Keep in mind this is just a US study, once you start talking about third world countries with little access to clean drinking water, and impoverished people who can not afford formula statistics are dreadfully worse that a child who is not breastfed will survive.
Barriers to Breastfeeding
I know there are reasons women can’t breastfeed. My oldest daughter has a genetic disorder which made processing milk sugar (whether breast or cow) impossible. She had to be fed soy formula, which broke my heart, but taught me understanding that not everyone has it easy.
Some women work extremely hard to establish a breastfeeding relationship, or lose their supply due to their work schedule, and their inability to pump milk at work (whether it is through access to a safe, clean place to pump or the inability to produce for the pump).
Many women are obligated to work to support their families, and family leave in the US is an absolute joke. 6 weeks for many women, but only IF they meet certain requirements. Otherwise women must use vacation days, or go without pay.
Breastfeeding: What you can do to help
If you are a mom or will be one in the future consider breastfeeding. Get the support you need early. Read books, talk to other moms who nurse, find your local La Leche League meeting.
If you are a woman without kids, with grown children, or a man, please do what you can to support and encourage the women in your life to breastfeed. Share the study with them. Buy them books on nursing. Get the phone number of a lactation consultant. Bring them a glass of water when they are nursing. Don’t ask them to cover up, or go somewhere else to nurse when they are in public.
How do you feel about nursing? If you have kids did were you able to breastfeed?