I really, really wanted to be able to nurse Baby Frugalista, but a confluence of factors has rendered that nearly impossible.
1. She was premature and underweight, and the hospital/pediatrician told me to wait to breastfeed until we knew she was gaining weight. But I did give her as much measured-out breast milk as I could pump.
2. By the time I got the go-ahead, Baby F was already a month old and had major latching issues and nipple confusion – swinging her head around wildly, not staying put, crying and writhing.
3. I was pumping milk for her the entire time, but without nursing, I was only getting enough for 2-3 feedings a day. Without regular breastfeeding, my supply was dwindling, even though I was pumping every few hours.
4. You name it, I tried it: different latching and hold techniques, expressing some milk first, nipple shields. All to no avail.
In the end, I was completely fried after a few weeks. The cycle went like this: attempt to nurse her for 45 minutes, getting both of us frustrated; bring out the bottled breast milk or formula and feed that for another 45 minutes, then pump for 15-20 minutes. In the beginning, it was practically nonstop with little time in between. Then we’d get to an hour in between. It seemed even crazier than the singular act of trying to nurse a baby that didn’t want it.
I did manage to pump milk until she was nearly 6 weeks old, which is a bit comforting, but I really, really wanted it to work out. Not just for the immunologic reasons, but also for the cost savings. It would have been doubly good!
Now, we’re giving our little girl Similac formula 24/7. I’m not thrilled, but it’s the only alternative. Since she was premature, she’s still lagging behind on the infant weight & length curves, and I’m nervous enough about giving her enough nourishment as it is.
This is where coupons and freebies come in. I signed up for the Similac mailing list, which gets me the highly-coveted $5 ‘manufacturer checks’ every once in a while. The company also sent out good-sized freebie samples of the formula we’re using, which saved us a few bucks in the beginning.
Right now, it’s costing $21 weekly for her powdered formula, in the big tub, before coupons. With the $5 Similac manufacturer checks, that gets knocked down to $16, but I don’t have enough checks for every purchase. So my estimate is that it will run $75 a month for formula as long as she continues to take 3-4 ounces per feeding, 8 times a day. Our costs will obviously increase once she ups her intake, then come down a bit again when she starts solid foods in a few months.
But the good news is she’s growing, gaining weight, and thriving, despite her prematurity. The pediatrician thinks she’ll start catching up, growth-wise, in a few months, and that’s all that matters.