Giving Birth is Expensive, Babies Don’t Have To Be

If you couldn’t tell by now, or if you know me personally, you know I’m generally and easily irritated by the world. This probably irritates you. I’m sorry for that. I mean well.

Since having a baby 2 years ago, I’ve become intensely fascinated with the world of prenatal care, childbirth and postnatal care and have found a number of things irritating about the industry. It’s one of my favorite topics to read about and discuss with other mothers. It really all began with the book Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born by Tina Cassidy. Since educating myself and evaluating my own experience, I’ve formed some strong opinions. They can be narrowed down to these two main points.

1. Moms-to-be, you don’t want a c-section. Do everything, absolutely everything you can to push that baby out of you the way nature intended. I know that doctors decide for many moms in the middle of an intense labor that they need a c-section. For some cases, the surgery is absolutely hands down necessary. For many others, though, it is not necessary for the mother, but convenient for the doctor. And furthermore, elective c-sections thoroughly disgust me. We’re talking major surgery here, not removing a mole. It’s in your best interest to avoid it if you can, not choose to have one because your afraid of vaginal delivery for one reason or another. How about someone cutting into your gut and stuffing their hands in elbow deep. Doesn’t that scare you?

2. I’m going to go here, too: why the hell not just try to breastfeed your baby. Even if you’re going back to work in 3 weeks, then how about trying to breastfeed your baby for 3 weeks? I understand and acknowledge that not every woman is successful at producing milk and I believe that babies can thrive on formula. I am living proof, as are probably most of you reading this. However, there is a steady stream of evidence that reveals how beneficial breastfeeding is to the mother‘s health. It lowers your risk of breast cancer, it stabilizes your insulin levels and metabolism, it helps you lose belly fat. Why why why wouldn’t you want that for yourself? I will concede, breastfeeding is not always easy. I thought about giving up every single day for the first 5 months. But I didn’t, because my reasons (it’s cumbersome, painful at times, inconvenient and even laborious) weren’t good enough to counteract the benefits to both me and my baby’s health. I’m not saying you should feel guilty or a failure for trying but not succeeding or eventually choosing otherwise due to your specific situation. Not at all; not even close. I am saying I don’t understand why one wouldn’t even consider breastfeeding their baby for at least a day. Meaning the mothers that go to the hospital to deliver and check the box “bottle feeding” without even trying the breast. Go ahead with the nasty comments (it’s your right to choose, it’s your body, you don’t want saggy boobs, blah blah blah).

But that’s not where I wanted to go today.

Today, one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, published a very useful posting on how they as a new mommy and daddy penny pinch with their newborn daughter Clara. Finding the advice relevant and relatable, I thought I’d share them here with a few of my own. Don’t let rich people (or people who appear rich but really just have a credit card), baby magazines, or the sales rep at Babies R Us tell you what you need. You’re better off asking your mother or your grandmother, or following these tips I found worthwhile from Young House Love.

1. Don’t Waste Money on Baby Clothes I like clothes as much as the next woman, but remember your child is not a doll, but other people will think she is. You will get gifts. Lots of gifts. Your friends and family will not be able to resist buying that absolutely charming baby t-shirt. They’re glad you exist so they have a reason to buy it, and they will. Even the most practical of people can’t resist walking through the clothing department at Target without clinging to that cute OshKosh dress. And even if this isn’t the case for you, during the first few months of life, your baby needs very little. Onesies, socks and a blanket should do it. As they grow up, they essentially need a few t-shirts and pants, a jacket, and 1 or 2 pairs of shoes. They will wear their clothes for mere months and will destroy them in that time. Remember that when looking at price tags.

2. Don’t Snub Hand-Me-Downs Embrace them. Get down and kiss the feet of those that have unloaded their baby crap onto you. It’s FREE. We haven’t had to buy a carseat for Marlo until a few months ago thanks to loans and hand-me-downs. (A word of caution about carseats – know very well who you’re taking them from and be certain the carseat has never been in a car accident.) Your friends and family are doing you a favor by saving you the expense, and you’re doing them a favor by freeing some space in their basement. So say yes to that swing, the pack-n-play, and the over-washed t-shirts.

3. Be Skeptical of the Necessity of Baby Gear You do not need an $800 stroller, and I don’t care if you can afford one. The floor makes a wonderful changing table and even diaper pails stink – just throw the dirty dipes in the trash (my father said he would always drop the poo in the toilet then threw away the diaper). If you have a baby, you take the trash out everyday anyway.

4. Cut Down on the Toys If you want an overstimulated, frustrated baby – buy them a boatload of newfangled toys every week. I’ve purchased 4 toys for Marlo – a walk-behind stroller ($25), blocks ($10), mr. potato head ($7), and a Barbie ($6). She’s received many great quality toys from friends and family, and they have indeed entertained her for hours (notably the exersaucer, the playmat, and her new kitchen), but do you know what she plays with most consistently and has for most of her life? Blocks/legos, books, and crayons with coloring books, oh, and stickers. These things are essential to her and she would probably forgo all else to keep them. Best of all, they don’t make any noise and require no batteries. Also, another place to cut down on toys is in the tub. There’s really nothing worse than having to squeeze out and collect a million (probably moldy) bath toys after you’re done washing your baby up. Marlo’s current favorite bath toys: the water, a plastic cup, her wash cloth, and a rubber ducky.

5. Most Mom-Gear is Unnecessary, Too One thing I’ve learned: you know what makes a bag a diaper bag – diapers, wipes and a changing pad stuffed in any bag big enough to hold it. Also, aside from the hospital rental, the best breast pump I’ve used is a $25 Lansinoh manual (best thing about it – you can pump in a car or anywhere you want quietly and without power). And I never really got the whole “nursing clothes” bit,  just buy or make (a blanket) a nursing cover and lift up your shirt for crying out loud!

6. Boob Milk is, Mostly, Free. YHL reported that formula can cost up to $140/month. You can get all you need to comfortably breast feed for a year for that. Really, all you technically need are boobs full of milk, but these things make the process much easier: 3 bottles, a manual breast pump (so dad/babysitter can help), 2 nursing bras, milk storage bags, a Boppy and an optional nursing cover (I say optional because a blanket works just fine). That’s it, and patience which is expensive in other ways.

The baby industry thrives off of guilting mothers, particularly new mothers, into thinking they NEED to buy x,y, and z or they are a bad, careless and unfit parent.  Don’t read parenting magazines, as they’re all just a giant book of ads. Don’t be a sucker. Talk to fellow mothers; talk to your mother. They know best, as they have tried, failed and succeeded a million times already. Be confident in yourself! And put your damn credit card AWAY.


2 Responses to “Giving Birth is Expensive, Babies Don’t Have To Be”

  1. 1 keith radabaugh September 22, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Excellent observations put to a crystal clear chapter on that handbook for life.

  2. 2 Linda Henson September 23, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Emily… I love it and feel the same way! I have tried to give that advice to people since becoming a mother myself (even when I worked as the Special Events Coordinator at Babies R Us!) Have a great day… Give Marlo big hugs and kisses from me!

    Aunt Linda

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