Monday, February 04, 2008

I Deserve a Medal (Updated Again)

For those of you who have never had the pleasure of fortifying breastmilk for a baby, it's disgusting stuff. But it's pretty simple. You use a recipe to add formula to breast milk so that the final product equals whatever calories per ounce your goal is. When we were trying to get 22 calories per ounce, we added a half teaspoon to 3 ounces of breast milk. You could barely tell the formula was in it. Now we put a full scoop of formula in a bottle and add breast milk until the total volume equals 5 oz (so we add approximately 4ish ounces of milk). It's disgusting stuff and smells to high heaven and pours out really thickly. Yick. No wonder poor Ellie doesn't love the stuff.

But anyway, tonight I had the displeasure of going and purchasing a can of formula for the first time. Do you know how much this shit* costs??? One 16 ounce can costs $27!!! Fortunately, CVS had it on sale for $22 with your ExtraCare card, and I had a $5 coupon a friend had given me. But seriously, even $17 per can! Imagine if I was really feeding formula to my babies as their primary foodstuff! I used to say that I HAVE to breastfeed my babies because we can't afford formula for all three babies, but I had no idea that I WASN'T JOKING. I don't think I could afford formula for ONE baby if I were feeding formula full time! (Hell, I'm not sure I can afford it just as the fortifier, sheesh!)

Okay, so I have no idea how much money I've saved our family by breastfeeding triplets for this long so far, but I do know I deserve a medal. Or perhaps a new laptop. Which, um, I need because mine died a grizzly death. Now, if only I could breastfeed them all through college to save on tuition too... we'd be all set. Except, um, I don't think it works that way.

*Okay what is UP with me and the profanity lately?? I have GOT to cut this out!

Update Answer to Anonymous:
No you can't fortify breast milk with breast milk. Simmering breast milk down to concentrate it wouldn't really work and would damage the breast milk. The proteins and antibodies in the breast milk would be damaged by the cooking process. Plus, you'd have no way of knowing what the calorie concentration was. The main reason for me to keep giving my babies breast milk (aside from formula costing a FREAKING FORTUNE as I just discovered tonight) is to give them the benefit of the antibodies and other good stuff they get from me. Cooking the milk destroys that goodness. I can get the concentrated calorie benefit by simply adding formula. Processing is not the root of all evil, in my opinion. (and I certainly don't have such an excess of pumped milk that I can afford to concentrate my EBM by simmering... it would be a guarantee that my babies would end up on formula supplements, because I could never pump enough to make up for that difference)

P.S. You didn't upset me with the way your question was phrased. It's just that it's an unrealistic solution. There's no way to really calculate the number of calories you'd end up with in your breast milk concentrate, and when you're dealing with a baby who's struggling to get enough calories , it's important to really work hard to get those calories into her. Spending the money on one can of formula to use as fortifier for her isn't a big deal. It would be a HUGE deal if I were using the can of formula as intended by the manufacturer... particularly with three babies. I'd be spending a FORTUNE on formula! As it is, this can that I bought last night should last for several weeks, thankfully. I have no idea how long a can of formula would last if I were making it straight for three babies full time. I don't think I want to know!

Updated Again: Anonymous says:
and what about WIC? Maybe you make too much money to qualify...but worth a try... especially since you have triplets to feed!

If we still had only one income we make too much money to qualify, now we have two incomes. (I'm quite grateful to not qualify, mind you) On top of that, since I'm not using formula for anything other than fortifier, I only need one can every couple weeks, so the WIC benefit would be wasted on us. We can certainly afford one can every once in a while. It's just the idea of having to pay for this all the time that makes me very grateful that I breastfeed.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are doing so great with the breastfeeding.

Okay, this might be a ridiculous idea, and might not be possible given how much you already need to pump, but can breastmilk be fortified with breastmilk? If you simmer some EBM until it reduces by half and then use two ounces of this concentrate with three ounces of EBM, you'd have five ounces at 28 calories per ounce. Simmering breastmilk probably isn't the best thing, though it likely doesn't affect the calorie count, and of course formula is processed.

Thank you for posting!

Rachel Inbar said...

I once calculated how much I saved by breastfeeding my twins & it was ridiculous... (I think somewhere in the $1000 range, but I only breastfed exclusively through 5 months & then started supplementing.) and as my dad says, money you save is net, meaning it can be worth the same as earning twice as much... (because of taxes & all).

I hope when Ellie catches up everything will suddenly seem so much simpler.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for addressing my query. It was just an idea, that if one somehow had an overabundance of EBM, which I noted I was aware you did not, one could process it -- only some, so that the goodness would remain in the rest -- just as formula is processed, and save money by using it instead of formula, calculating the calories as I described. I apologize if I phrased my question in such a way as to upset you.

LJ said...

HOLY CRAP! That is CRAZY expensive. That's like a nice filet for the kid for each meal! Damn.

LJ said...

Actually, you should add up how much money you've saved by breastfeeding. DEFINITELY a new laptop.

Shelby said...

Yeah, formula is crazy expensive! And I do plan on using it again to supplement, because I plan to only breastfeed about half of the time after he is 3 months old. I remember finding it cheapest at Amazon.com, and bought them 6 cans at a time for just over $100 for the 25.7 ounce cans. Then their prices went up, and Sams Club ended up being the cheapest. And that's just for the regular formula.

I think you're doing an amazing job with the breastfeeding! I could never do what you are doing, and I sit back and read in awe. Way to go mom!

Erin said...

P was nursed and my cousin, who is 3 months younger was formula-fed. I added it up one time and (not including bottles and nipples and things like that) figured that it was somewhere around $1300+ for the first year for them to feed her formula. And that was 4 years ago--the cost has gone up staggeringly since then! You are saving a boatload of money!

Karen said...

I used to say the same thing, I stuck it out with breastfeeding because of cost! Keep up the good work! You are my hero!

Catherine said...

CVS isn't always the cheapest place to buy formula, unfortunately. However, $5 off w/an extra care card does help. Shop around (yeah, I know you have so much time on your hands) and you can probably find it cheaper. I buy the normal similac advance at Sam's Club or Costco and buy alimentum by the case online.

And I absolutely refuse to do the math to know how much money I've spent on formula. It would just depress me! :) I never got a very good supply up while pumping anyway . . . (I'll keep telling myself that.)

Gibson Twins said...

I formula fed my twins from 6 weeks on. We used Enfacare which is 22cal/oz and got 6 or 8 cases of nursette bottles free from Enfamil and they delivered it to us (worth asking your ped about). When we started paying for it, it was only $13/can but a can lasted us only about a day. Once the twins hit the 50%ile mark for growth (around 5 1/2 months) the doctor suggested we try regular Enfamil (theres a Target brand that is the EXACT same thing as regular Enfamil Lipil). Enfamil was $23 for the big can, and Target brand of the identical formula was $11.75 for the same size can. We tried it and once we used the Target formula, the babies didn't spit up nearly as often. It mixed so much smoother than the Enfamil that has more bubbles in it.

Anonymous said...

I second what "gibson twins" said. If you have a Target nearby, go check out their forumula. It's good, cheap stuff.

SaraS-P said...

Wow! I didn't realize how expensive the stuff was! Best of luck with the fortifying and feeding!

My Reality said...

You deserve a new computer AND a day at the spa!

Marie-Baguette said...

I registered with all makers of formula and received tons of coupons and free cans of formula. 1800 diapers and amazon might have good prices. And I remember finding sites that would offer discounts to parents of twins. I am sure some offer the same thing to parents of triplets. Congrats again for breastfeeding your triplets. You have been an inspiration for me (and I am not kidding).

Suzanne said...

i am just going to let you wrap your mind around what we go through in the steece household with baby quads. (i had a breast reduction two years ago and my milk never came in)...right when they were born, they were on a special preemie formula for months. they were eating 8 times a day. at one point, we were going through 5 pre-made formula bottles (b/c the mix makes them have stomach problems) a frickin' day. you go girl, with your breast feeding! may you lactate for months and months!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

You can also talk to your ped. With triplets, you can get three free cases of formula.

Anonymous said...

and what about WIC? Maybe you make too much money to qualify...but worth a try... especially since you have triplets to feed!

Laura McIntyre said...

You deserve all the medals in the world, im so grateful i have never had to spend a penny on formula and hopefully never will. I have checked and cannot beleive the cost, never get all these people who complain about money but don't breastfeed .

triLcat said...

I exclusively bottle-feed. I use the cheapest powder in the biggest container I can find (b/c it's cheaper per unit), and only buy it on sale. I estimate that we spend about $25/week. Quick math puts that at well over $1200/year.

On the one hand, it's a lot of money. On the other hand, you have to do what's best for your baby no matter how much it costs.

I would look into free samples, because a lot of companies send nice samples to parents of multiples.

pam said...

all i can say is, thank goodness we DO qualify for WIC! it's a lifesaver! we get 93 cans (the small liquid concentrate cans) of formula a month, which is about $400-$450 worth! whew!