Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Breastfeeding a healthy, economic choice, expert says

Breastfeeding a healthy, economic choice, expert says
January 7, 2009

Pregnant couples who dread the upcoming costs of baby care have at least one cost-saving measure they may overlook:

Try breastfeeding.

CoxHealth lactation consultant and registered nurse Patty Fielding says breastfeeding has a huge impact on the family’s financial bottom line, and it’s good for baby’s and mom’s health.

The average cost to feed an infant formula varies, depending on the child’s age and the brand of formula you choose, Fielding says. But she added that a parent can expect to spend $1,300 or more in the baby's first year. “Most people have no idea how much they are actually spending to feed their child formula instead of breast milk,” she says. “In addition to the cost of formula, you have to consider the cost of bottles, additional visits to the doctor because baby is sick more and income lost when the parents are forced to miss work to care for an ill child,” she says. Breastfeeding your infant is technically free, Fielding says.

While you can choose to purchase special clothing and supplies, they’re not requirements.

But if a mother works outside the home, the purchase or rental of a high-quality breast pump does make breastfeeding more convenient, she says.

Rental of a hospital-grade breast pump costs $35 to $55 a month, including a few bottles for milk storage and feeding. This is still significantly less than the cost of formula feeding, she says.

Good quality breast pumps cost as little at $270, including bottles. The CoxHealth Women’s Center Center offers pumps for rent or purchase, nursing bras and accessories and lactation consultant services. “We want women to make the choice to breastfeed because it’s best for baby and mom. But I hope that knowing it’s best for the family’s finances will help more women make the decision to breastfeed,” Fielding says.

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