“I’m Katherine, mum of a sixteen-month-old boy, servant of three cats, and addicted to cloth nappies. I started rambling online at http://mademoisellejones.net in a sleep-deprived manner almost a year ago, and since then have gained a very part-time photography career, a half-decent website, and a smattering of followers. I sadly haven’t gained a nanny, so blogging now fits between work, a cat who likes to be worn in a sling, and a toddler who still refuses to sleep.”
Just to be clear, I am not using this as a stick to beat formula-feeders with. I’ve been on all sides of this: I’ve breastfed, expressed, combine-fed, formula fed, and finally ended up relactating and breastfeeding again. This is not about the politics. This is about the economics.
Today I sat down and worked out roughly how much we’ve spent on formula since we introduced a top-up feed when my son was twelve weeks. And then I cried, because it’s money I could’ve spent on lovely, fluffy cloth nappies.
£600. Six hundred pounds. Wow.
That isn’t counting the cost of the bottles we had to buy, the steriliser, the new teats every couple of months.
We didn’t choose the most economic option: we always used the ready-made cartons. Because we’d started off with one feed a day, it wasn’t worth buying a tin of formula. By the time he was having more formula than breastmilk, we’d fallen into the habit of buying cartons, and just kept buying them. My son moved onto formula exclusively at nine or so months, with the odd feed of expressed breastmilk from the freezer, until at fourteen months we both decided to try to start breastfeeding again. Thankfully, it worked, and my son now drinks a mixture of goats’ milk, breastmilk, juice, and water (although not at the same time. That would be, erm, revolting.)
So, let’s get this straight. Breastfeeding has massive health benefits for mum and baby, including a reduction in the likelihood of breast cancer for the mum, and a reduction in the likelihood of ear infections, asthma, eczema, allergies, obesity, SIDS, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol for the baby. It’s convenient, and let’s be honest, getting up in the middle of the night to make up a bottle is a pain, as is sterilising. Breastfeeding helps with bonding, and some studies have shown that breastfed babies have higher IQs. It’s incredibly clever: the composition of breastmilk changes according to the age and needs of the baby. It also costs nothing.
If that’s not a reason to at least attempt to start, or to carry on, or keep going for longer than you originally planned, I don’t know what is.
Thank you so much Katheirne for sharing your thoughts on this often emotive subject. Much appreciated and some useful facts.