If you’ve been to any of those anti-natal classes or spoken to your midwife about feeding chances are you’ve heard the words “Why wouldn’t you breast feed? It’s free”. Now this isn’t a debate about whether you should or shouldn’t breast feed, whether breast or bottle is best because ultimately that’s your decision and a baby with a full belly is a happy baby and that’s all that really matters.
What gets me though is how unprepared we are as expectant mothers who are wanting or expecting to breast feed. We’re led to believe it’s the most natural thing in the world; you have a baby, your boobs fill with milk and you feed the baby. It’s not like that for most of us those is it? It’s been one of the hardest parts about having a baby; making sure you eat right so you have a strong supply, holding your baby in the best position to help them nurse, latching the baby to your boobs (who knew this could be so difficult), facing the reality of feeding in public, trying to heal sore nipples when there’s a constant demand for more feeding.
As if there isn’t enough to get your head around you then have to face the fact that breast feeding isn’t free at all, yes your body naturally produces the milk (if you are fortunate enough to have a good supply) but in order to breast feed successfully there is an entourage of equipment you will need to support you:
- A nursing bra – to help you get those puppies out without completely stripping off. Considering this is kind of a necessity a decent nursing bra is likely to set you back £30
- Nursing tops – if like me you are still rocking a mum-tum you might not fit comfortably into button down shirts that make feeding easier and so you’re going to need to invest in some nursing tops again to give you access to your boobs without undressing.
- Breast pads – the most essential of all the supporting items. These little circles will save you from leaking milk everywhere, just tuck them in your bra and off you go. Don’t push it though, change them regularly otherwise they will let you down and soak milk through your clothes. No matter how many layers you’re wearing. I’ve found the best ones to be from Tesco, £1.50 for 40 which is actually only 20 pairs. Change 2-3 times a day and you will need a new box every 5-6 days or so. These Tesco ones are fairly reasonably priced but I have seen others for as much as £5 a box and that would soon add up.
- Nipple cream – slather that stuff on like it’s going out of fashion. When your boobs are cracked and bleeding this stuff might be the only thing that stops you from tearing your nipples off. The good stuff isn’t cheap though, Lansinoh cream goes for £10 a tube and you will get through it quickly in the beginning.
- Breast pumps – if you choose to use them this is where you will really see a dent in your wallet. I was forced to resort to a pump almost straight away when I was too sore to feed Amelia myself and at current count I have 7 – yes 7 pumps! Madness right? But not all pumps are made equal. It’s taken me almost 3 months to find the pump that works best for me, gives me the best results without any discomfort. If you do choose to invest in a pump you can expect to spend about £30 for a manual and anywhere from £100 to £250 for a top of the range electric pump.
So remind me again just how free is breast feeding? Next they’ll be telling us labour is painless… trust me it’s not!