The Cost of Inducing Lactation

Electric breast pump. $130.00.

Nursing bra. $30.00.

Finally producing breast milk? Priceless.

(I better stop. I’m starting to sound like that old MasterCard ad campaign, aren’t I?)

Although I’ve always understood (and welcomed) the physical and emotional “pay-offs” provided by a dedicated adult nursing relationship, I’d really never stopped to consider the cost involved in inducing lactation, until I shared an email conversation with a new-to-nursing wife just a little over a month ago. As she explained, she and her husband had invested a great deal of money into their milk-making effort, but their financial investment simply wasn’t paying off. This conversation made me truly realize that, for some couples, inducing can be a costly venture.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it, doesn’t it? When lactation is such a large priority within the loving ANR, we will often go to great lengths to obtain our ultimate goal, even if this means investing in a good-quality breast pump, nursing attire, multiple herbal lactation supplements and teas, breast boosting oil blends, and all of the little extras (such as breast ointments and nursing pads) to make our journey a bit more comfortable along the way. This can add up to hundreds of dollars; unfortunately, these items do not always guarantee success.

Have you ever heard the age-old adage “money is no object?” Well, sometimes it is, especially now that the cost of living is up, and many of us are working to feed and clothe a few little people who live in our homes. A committed ANR is an emotional investment. It truly doesn’t have to be a financial one. Here are a few tips to “nursing on a budget” that I hope couples new to the lifestyle will find helpful. We’ll just refer to this as “The Loving Milk Maid’s K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sweetie) Guide to Nursing”. 😉

1. Start simple.

Even if lactation is a priority within your personal ANR, start by suckling. Not only is this the best way to induce lactation, it is also the perfect way to determine if the lifestyle is right for you. There isn’t really any need to invest in a closet full of “nursing equipment” if you should happen to realize that you just don’t enjoy nursing as much as you thought you would.

2. Invest in a manual breast pump first.

Before purchasing a hospital grade electric pump, which can cost anywhere from $129 to $2,900, begin with a manual pump; there are many efficient and economical brands on the market. This $30.00 investment will give you the chance to determine if you truly enjoy the pumping process. Some women do, others discover that it’s too tiresome or time-consuming. After about a month of regulated suckling and/or pumping, if you find that you’re enjoying yourself and your breasts are responding well to the stimulation, consider upgrading.

3. Trade herbal supplements for super foods.

Nutrition is key to successful lactation, and you can achieve as many results by incorporating a combination of “good” carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices into your diet as you can by taking herbal supplements. (One hint: think green–spinach, kale, lettuce, celery, cucumbers, limes, kiwi, and grapes; these are all vitamin-enriched lactogenic foods.)

4. Take a no-frills approach to nursing.

Consider performing dry manual breast massage; if you want to add an oil to your daily routine, invest in a jar of coconut oil or a bottle of pure fennel oil, both which are effective and far more economical than pre-packaged herbal enhancement blends. Rather than purchasing commercial hot-to-cold gel packs, soothe uncomfortable nursing breasts with warm or cool compresses made from soft cloths. Some people find the idea of wearing a nursing bra scintillating; it can be just as wonderful to nurse nude or naked from the waist up. Not only is it incredibly intimate, this close skin-to-skin contact really prmotes the release of oxytocin, a hormone key to the lactation inducing process.

5. Add to your nursing collection one piece at a time.

You really don’t need a lot of “things” to enjoy a fulfilling ANR or even to produce breast milk. Wait until you are producing milk before you invest in storage bags and bottles, forego stockpiling nursing pads until you are showing signs of leakage, become comfortable with your pump and learn how to travel with it before you buy a carrying case for it. Not only is this an economical approach, it allows you time to save for these purchases–and gives you something to look forward to and work toward! This is part of the fun of nursing–sharing our hopes, dreams, and goals with our partner, and working together to attain them. This is what Mr. S and I did; it is always very exciting to shop for new little “nursing pieces” to add to our secret collection. (One of our favorite additions is the nursing tank top I purchased in February.)

Nursing really is simple. It’s free–and a lot of fun! Give this K.I.S.S. method a try. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you find.

And, even though I run the risk of repeating myself (and sounding like a television commercial once more), the moment your dedicated effort and diligent work pays off and you see those first beautiful drops of breast milk will indeed be priceless!


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