To quote a good friend of mine, "Having a baby is like being back in high school again where the cool kids make you feel like a loser."
I can't even begin to tell you how much pressure there is to do the "right" thing as a parent. Doing the right thing involves things like: eating organic when you're pregnant and nursing, NOT getting an epidural, nursing for at least a year (2-3 years if you're from Boulder), rejecting traditional immunization schedules, being a stay-at-home mom, making your own baby food, following the Babywise method, and probably a lot more that I haven't thought of.
Now I'm not saying I disagree with any of these peer pressures (and I actually follow a lot of them), but I do think it's a little much to make new moms feel like losers and terrible parents if they don't do all of these things. Learning to be a mom is hard enough in itself!
Anyway, one of the ways we've found to save the most money with a new kid is through, you guessed it, breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is also about the worst thing EVER (to me...but not to most). My first 12 weeks of nursing I cried every time I nursed and kept waiting for Jonathan to tell me that it would be okay if we just weaned her...but he never offered up that option, so I never asked for it. Rory was tongue tied and couldn't latch on for her first week until the doctor clipped her tongue. (I didn't watch.) I went through two bouts of mastitis and Rory and I both got thrush. Awesome. Then, at 3 1/2 months, after Rory had been in daycare for about 6 weeks, she decided she preferred the bottle over the boob. So, guess what? She refused to nurse. And where does that leave me? Pumping exclusively.
So, she'll be 6 months next week and I've spent the last 2 1/2 months pumping exclusively. I fight with keeping up my milk supply, waking up early and staying up late to pump, and finding time in the midst of a crazy work day to sit in the cold, concrete storage closet to pump. (Sometimes I get the I.T. room to pump.)
Why do I do it? Well, if I was really, really awesome, I'd say it was because the breast is better. But, let's be honest, it's because I'm cheap. I don't want to spend $100 (or whatever) on formula a week. Plus, lots of the formula companies are super corrupt and do horrible things to African mothers.
I will say I've pushed through some major discouragement with nursing to offset some of my guilt for having Rory in daycare. She gets sick enough when still receiving all of the antibodies in breast milk. I can't imagine what it would be like for her to not be receiving them.
So, what's the breakdown? Target's generic formula would cost us about $1/bottle conservatively. Rory drinks 4 bottles a day. That's $28/week and $112/month which equals almost $1500 spent on formula in a year!
What do I spend? I own two electric pumps and I bought them both used (one from a friend and the other from Craigslist.). One was $30 and the other was $75. I also bought some pumping supplies which equals around $40. And that's about it.
Hmmm...$150 vs $1500.
It seems to me that breastfeeding (or pumping if you're me) is the quickest (but definitely NOT the easiest) way to live more with less with a baby.