Babies can be expensive. At least their gear is. And it starts the moment you realize you’re pregnant. You’ll have visions of pink and blue nurseries dancing in your head. A crib, mattress and sheets? Check. Clothing? Check. Diapers and wipes. You bet. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the expenses, here’s something that may be re-assuring– breastfeeding is free! That’s right. Formula costs money. Boobs, well you have those already.Of course, there are some items you may want to buy even if you’re planning to breastfeed. As always, some are important and some optional. And this may be one area where you should consider hand-me-downs from friends and family (with the exception of a breast pump).
Breast pumps: Pumps come in a wide range of prices and styles. If you’re planning to exclusively breastfeed, you probably won’t need one. But if you’re going back to work, and want to continue to nurse, you’ll need to pump. And even if you aren’t working outside the home, you may want a pump for that occasion when you aren’t with your baby.
Hand-powered pumps can be relatively inexpensive. They’re perfect if you’re not in too much of a hurry; or if you need to discretely stash a pump in your bag. On the other end of the spectrum are electric powered, double pumps. These can be pricey, but they get the job done fast and pump both breasts at the same time. If you’re pumping for twins or to provide milk for your baby while at a full-time job, consider renting a hospital-grade pump.
Keep in mind, there can be ways to off-set some of the costs of a pump. The IRS allows you to use a Flexible Spending Account for pumps and breastfeeding supplies. Also, check with your insurance policy to see if it covers pumps.
Nursing Bras: Nursing bras have special clips that make it easy to open up your bra for a feeding. But you don’t need to go overboard here. Three will do: one that you’re wearing, one for when you need to change, and one that will inevitably be in the dirty laundry pile.
Also, if you’re pumping frequently, and want to multitask, consider a hands-free pumping bra. The bra has openings where you can simply insert the pump flanges. Now, get back to Facebook.
Nursing Clothes: Some moms like clothes that are specifically designed for breastfeeding. They come with easy access panels that make breastfeeding a cinch. You can buy pajamas, tops, tanks and even dresses. Or, you can forgo all this and just lift your shirt up. Up to you.
Bottles and Storage Bags: This only applies if you are planning to be pumping milk and want a caretaker to give the baby your milk while you’re away. You can pump directly into a storage bag or bottle to freeze or refrigerate. (There are now even accessories to help you organize your breast milk stash!)
Nursing Pads: Some women experience breast milk leakage, either when they aren’t nursing, or from the breast that isn’t being used during a feeding. If you don’t want to worry about soaking through your bra and shirt, you can stick one of these nifty pads right into your bra. You can buy either disposable or washable pads.
Nursing Pillows: Sometimes your arms can get tired from holding your baby in the correct position for that perfect latch. This is where a nursing pillow can come in handy. It helps you keep your baby level with your breast. Here again, if you don’t find a hand-me-down, or don’t want to splurge, find any sturdy pillow to put on your lap. Keep in mind, you always have to hold onto your baby, even if you have a pillow.