Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Costs of Feeding a Baby

I really connected with this article about breastfeeding a preemie. Well, it's not really about breastfeeding - it's about pumping. I've been pumping for six months now, and over the last eight weeks I have realized that Baby M is never, ever going to breastfeed.

That's been really disappointing to me. I had planned a natural birth, I didn't get that. I planned a full term baby, I didn't get that. I planned to nurse until she was ready to stop, and I figured that even though I didn't get anything else that I wanted, I could get that - I started pumping immediately and had a great supply. I haven't slept more than four hours straight since she was born and I was happy to do it, if it meant that someday we could have that connection.

But it's not going to happen. She learned to eat by bottle, and that's hard enough for her. She can't latch properly. My letdown is too strong for her. She chokes on liquids that are thinner than honey. And she has to eat upright because of her reflux. It's just not going to happen for us. I mentioned this to her feeding therapists, and they gently confirmed that I'm right.

So, now what? Do I gleefully throw the pump away and sleep all night long? Not quite - in addition to the milk that I've donated to preemie moms in my area and to Prolacta, I am supplementing for a friend whose supply is not enough to meet her baby's needs. I am happy that I've been able to do all of this.

But I'm done. I'm going down from five pumping sessions a day to four, and in a week or two I'll drop another one. As I slowly wean down my body's milk production, I will also learn to become comfortable with the fact that Baby M's first year of nutrition will not cost nothing like I'd hoped - in fact, since she got switched to the hypoallergenic formula, it now costs $45 PER CAN. (We are getting some  financial assistance with that since it's a prescription but that won't last forever.) With a can lasting about four days, we're talking several hundred dollars a month in formula - a far cry from the slight increase in our grocery bill that I envisioned as I ate everything in sight.

But you know, the author of that article is right - sometimes the best thing we can for our babies is not the thing we've been led to believe. Baby M got breastmilk via feeding tube for four months, and we've got a freezer full for her to drink from a sippy cup when that day comes. And that's okay. What's best for her, ultimately, is that I let go of my preconceived plans for how things will go, and just roll with the punches.


  1. Your baby is healthy and thriving - that's really all that matters!

    You're doing amazing.

  2. This strikes me as a core thing to really embrace as a parent. It's not ideal that you had to internalize it so very early in the process, but I'm sure it'll be good for you and your family.

  3. I somewhat understand what you are going through. I had my daughter in October and expected to breastfeed her until I went back to work in january. I then expected to pump exclusively and provide her enough breastmilk to continue until I finished out the school year in May. Unfortunately once I started pumping, my supply dwindled very quickly. I am down to pumping twice a day and barely get 7 oz total each time. We are now mixing half formula and half breastmilk for each feeding. It makes me so sad that I am unable to produce enough for her, and I feel some of my "friends" judge me because I am not breastfeeding still. I guess the moral to this story is that I am doing the best I can for my daughter, and you are doing the same for yours. Your daughter is growing and thriving and has two parents who love her beyond words. I think that is the most important thing! Keep being an awesome mommy!

  4. Great post. I feel like I really understand the challenges of quitting the pump. For me, it just felt like one more place that I didn't get the parenting experience that most people get. As much as I could rationalize that I shouldn't feel sad/bad/guilty/like I failed/etc about it I couldn't fully get away from those feelings.

    One note on the cost of hypoallergenic formula. I'm not sure what you use, but when you hit the point of needing to pay for it all by yourself, check Amazon. We just got orders to switch to hypoallergenic. Our insurance doesn't currently cover the cost of it, but they have agreed to put it in for prior authorization since he's 100% g-tube fed and now needs the hypoallergenic. Hopefully they will pay for it, but in the meantime, I have found Elecare Jr on Amazon for $117 for a case of 6. Elecare infant is $200 a case ($33 a unit). I have a prime membership so that gives me 2 day shipping for free. There were a couple cheaper, but they weren't fulfilled by Amazon, so you wouldn't get the free shipping.

  5. My wife went through many of the same frustrations as it didn't work out with either of our kids. In the end, eliminating the frustration on both her side and the babies side turned out to be more beneficial and made the transition easier.


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