One of the biggest myths surrounding breastfeeding is that it is free. This could not be further from the truth. Expenses related to breastfeeding can begin the first time caregivers speak with the hospital lactation consultant at their baby's birth.
If you continue to need breastfeeding consultations the cost per session can quickly add up. While the cost of these services depends on your family's location, some estimates report a lactation consultant who is certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultants can charge anywhere between $150 to $350 per hour.
If your baby is born with a tongue- or lip- tie which is a source of breastfeeding concerns, you might face the expense of corrective surgery called a frenectomy. The price of this procedure can vary anywhere from $250-$800, with an average cost being about $500 with insurance.
From there, many essential breastfeeding supply purchases will be made over time and when it is all said and done can add up to at least $1,000. These purchases include but are not limited to: a breast pump, breastfeeding bras and pads, breastfeeding pillow, nursing clothes, breast cream and lactation boosters.
In addition to these direct expenses, breastfeeding also has an indirect cost -- time. If a mother exclusively breastfeeds or pumps for an entire year, they are likely to spend around 1,800 hours or more providing breast milk for their little ones.
For the majority of mothers, the time that is spent away from work to breastfeed or pump is not paid. In fact, worries about breastfeeding and finding the right work-life balance affect as much as 51% of mothers returning to work. Breastfeeding “costs” should always include whatever wage mom could have earned if she had not taken a break to pump or feed.
With all of this in mind, it is easy to see that breastfeeding is not as “free” as families are led to believe.