Sunday, 5 February 2017

The true cost of my breastfeeding journey... dairy free...

Something I read the other day really riled me. 

It was when I was reading through some of the documents by Croydon CCG - to do with my previous post.

Basically, the Governing Body had decided that in order to cut down on the cost of prescribing specialised baby milk formulas for children with CMPA, it would be a good idea to encourage them to breastfeed.


I thought.

'What's that?'

Two things occurred to me at the time:

1. Yup! Having had major struggles when I was breastfeeding and had to find my own way through, there's no doubt... breast feeders need more support - bring it on!

2. Double standards. Breastfeeding 'aint cheap! NOT if you're gonna do it properly!! 

Yes you heard me!! I know they said that it was free, at breastfeeding school, but I beg to differ!

Actually, there's three things that occurred to me.

3. Why can't allergy mums have the same opportunities as other mums who have no allergies to deal with? 

I mean, it IS the 21st century after all - most mums can decide whether to bottle or breast feed. It's up to them. Why single out allergy mums, just 'cos it's not expedient for the CCG??

However, back to the breastfeeding. It 'AINT cheap!! 

How so??

Well, quite apart from the fact that I've spent I dunno HOW much on breastfeeding related stuff: 
  • nipple shields 
  • nipple cream
  • bras 
  • pads to go in them 
  • breastfeeding tops 
  • aprons 
  • breast shells 
  • gel pads to help me express  
  • Jelonet to plaster over the cracks that appeared
  • breastfeeding tea, when my supply ran low
  • a machine to express, when the pain got too much (plus bottles and spares)... 
(yes, yes, yes, I may not have needed all of that stuff, but I wasn't to know that then, and I did use most of it - particularly through my struggles at the beginning) there's also: 
  • the breastfeeding assistant who helped me in hospital
  • the TEN midwives who came to visit me in the early stages, but who didn't really know how to help me (I had the feeling they may never have experienced breastfeeding themselves)
  • the extra breast feeding groups I attended 
  • the emergency visit I made to a clinic on a Saturday morning 
  • the La Leche League breastfeeding counsellor who referred me to 
  • the Maxillofacial surgeon, who cut my baby's tongue-tie, so I could feed more easily 
  • the GP who discovered my nipples were infected and prescribed me antibiotics... 

I mean all of these people cost money - in wages... and still I felt I was left floundering!!

When you have cracks appearing in your nipples, that become craters, that start to disintegrate your nipple until you have nearly half missing (yes I'm not exaggerating); when you look at yourself horrified and wonder whether you will lose the rest of your nipple and be disfigured for life (thankfully it did grow back, after the drugs kicked in); when you know your baby still needs feeding because she's milk allergic and at that point you have no formula, and the advice is to continue feeding... what then?? 

There's the emotional cost, when things aren't working and you don't know which way to turn; the lack of sleep (breastfed babies seem to wake up more); the housework not done because your baby wants to feed... AGAIN??

And then there's my wages.


NO wages!!

And, here's the thing - if you breastfeed your baby you have to be available to your baby 24/7.

(Yes, yes, yes, I know about expressing. I tried. I failed. I tried everything - massaging, heat pads, endless pumping with the best pump on the market. My boobs just wouldn't cooperate - I used to get out about an ounce or so after about 45 minutes of pumping. Once time I hit the heady heights of three ounces, but that was a one-off, never to be repeated.) 

So I didn't go back to work.

The WHO (not the band, the World Health Organisation) recommend breastfeeding for the first two years of a baby's life. 

Two years wages (I actually fed longer, but that's beside the point)!!

How many families can afford that?? 

Especially if, like my sister, the mum is the major wage earner in the family.

Yes, yes, yes, the first months of maternity pay aren't so bad... but then it begins to drop away... and you start to feel uneasy. And if you worry about your career, or your finances... well the pressure to return to work is strong.

Now, don't get me wrong - I'm a huge, HUGE, fan of breastfeeding and I don't regret the choice to breastfeed my baby at all... well, after we got over the obstacles... but I do think women should have the choice - allergies or no.

Oh! And... did I mention cutting out dairy and the cost of all the dairy free food?? And if, like me, you find yourself intolerant to dairy afterwards??

Breastfeeding cheap??

Don't make me laugh!!


And if you're affected by the changes being proposed by Croydon and Richmond or are struggling to get hold of prescription formula, you may be interested to know that a campaign group has been set up. Called The Campaign for Milk Prescription Access, they can be found on Twitter and Face Book and have set up a website, see here.

Related posts:

Related articles:


  1. Brilliant! This is exactly the flip-side point that needs to be made, this whole messy shake up of the prescription system is short-sighted, unethical and discriminatory.

    1. Thanks Rebecca! I'm glad you can see my point! Let's hope someone can make Croydon CCG see it too! x

  2. Thank you for writing this post. I was determined that breast feeding was the best option for us before we had our baby. We were on one income as I was self employed and I believed breast feeding was best for baby. I wax detetmined to breadt feed wven ehen the hodpotal were hsppy for me not to.
    Once baby was born (and as a 1st time parent) I felt unsupported and acutely unaware of the problems that may arise to prevent me breastfeeding. Having a baby in intensive care, having an inverted nipple, having been through trauma myself during birth, having very painful episiotomy stitches to sit on and then having a sick baby who it turns out was lactose intolerant and dairy allergic from birth. All of these factors meant I could not continue breast feeding g past 7 weeks. I had given it all I could. I was unable to continue and baby was suffering and need more than me.
    In this case I had to turn to formula and it made a huge difference. It was not cheap and it was not what others would think of as the ideal situation but neither was the birth trauma and subsequent health problems of our baby.

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for sharing. I can only imagine the painful time that you went through over this. Well done for trying so hard, but also for admitting that you weren't able to feed and doing the best for your baby. We do the best we can, with what we can, with the knowledge we have at the time. Well done you! xx