pregnant woman on laptop working on budgeting for breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is cost-free, but be sure to budget for a few related expenses

The benefits of breastfeeding are endless. Not only is breastfeeding itself free—saving you nearly $200 each month on formula—the health benefits for both you and baby are numerous. It can lower your risk of disease and help you establish a strong bond between you and your little one.

While preparing for the arrival of your little one, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on the associated costs of breastfeeding, so you can budget (or build your registry!) accordingly. While many of these items are entirely optional, they can certainly make your breastfeeding journey a lot easier (and who doesn’t want that?).

Nursing Bras and Tanks

Stocking up on a few nursing bras and tops will give you easy access during feeding time. If you want to save a bit of money here, wear normal bralettes that are easy to pull down and any of your regular tops that have low necklines. You can also use the two-shirt method: Layering a low scoop tank under a regular top and pull the top up and the tank down to nurse. If you’re planning to pump, a hands-free pumping bra frees you up to multitask. That kind of efficiency makes a pumping bra priceless.

If you are stocking on these bras and tanks before your little one arrives, here’s a tip from our team of moms: Don’t wash or tear off the tags until you’re ready to wear them. You may need to exchange them for a different size once baby is here and your milk arrives.

Nursing Pillow

Sure, a couple of bed pillows might do the trick, but a pillow that’s made for breastfeeding is much more supportive and easier to position. The Boppy or My Brest Friend are two popular options and well worth the price if you plan to breastfeed for a while. The Back Buddy is another great option that you can use long after your nursing days are over.

A Stylish Bag for Your Pumping Accessories

When you’re on the go, a great pumping bag is a must-have for staying organized. Of course, you can use your favorite tote, but a pretty bag with different compartments will make transporting all those parts and pieces a breeze.

Storage Bags and a Cooler

Keeping your liquid gold safe and cool is super important. First, contact Ashland to see if you can get insurance-covered bottles, then plan to pick up some storage bags and a soft-sided cooler bag for storing and transporting breast milk. To prevent leaks, go for the double-zip top storage bags, but shop around—comparing brands or buying in bulk can save some cash. An insulated lunch bag, like the Pack-It, is perfect for breast milk storage and can be reused post-breastfeeding to keep foods and drinks cold.

Healthy, Nutrient-Rich Snacks

New moms need healthy snacks to keep up their energy. But for breastfeeding moms, these nutritious foods are doubly important because their bodies are working hard to make milk for their growing babies.

If you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’ll need about 300 to 500 more calories than a mom who isn’t breastfeeding. Stock up on healthy snacks like granola bars, string cheese, nuts and dried fruit. Tanking blood sugar can have an impact on your mood, making achieving your breastfeeding goals way more challenging—so eat! And don’t forget to hydrate while you’re at it.

Breast-Milk Shipping Service

If you’re a breastfeeding mom traveling for work, you may want to ship your milk back home, rather than lug multiple days’ worth of breast milk on a long car ride or through airport security. Prepaid refrigerated boxes from companies like Milk Stork allow you to easily ship breast milk overnight. Add this service to your breastfeeding budget or see if your company might cover it as an expense (like Goldman Sachs recently announced).


As moms, we often feel stretched for time. Breastfeeding, whether you’re nursing or pumping or both, takes time and effort. It can mean missing out on sleep, prioritizing pumping breaks in the workday and toting around your pump and accessories. Establishing your milk supply in those first weeks requires frequent feedings and long nursing sessions. While you can’t put a dollar amount on time, it’s very precious, so it’s important to consider the time you’ll need to dedicate to breastfeeding.

Although it may seem like a lot—having to invest in new nursing bras, replenish storage bags, and stock up on extra snacks—once you have assembled your essentials, breastfeeding itself is cost-free. And you have access to plenty of free products and services: Ashland Women’s Health can help you secure your insurance-covered breast pump and pump accessories, too. Plus, through The Lactation Network, we can connect you with free, in-home lactation services. Just think of experienced IBCLCs as fairy godmothers who visit your home and make your breastfeeding experience better at NO cost to you—a must-have for every breastfeeding mom!