World Breastfeeding Week – Breastpumps Covered by Insurance?

Have you heard yet about the Affordable Care Act?

On August 1, 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) adopted additional Guidelines for Women’s Preventive Services – including well-woman visits, support for breastfeeding equipment, contraception, and domestic violence screening – that will be covered without cost sharing in new health plans starting in August 2012. The guidelines were recommended by the independent Institute of Medicine (IOM) and based on scientific evidence.

Bolding mine.

And from a bit farther down in the article:

Breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling: Pregnant and postpartum women will have access to comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers, as well as breastfeeding equipment. Breastfeeding is one of the most effective preventive measures mothers can take to protect their children’s and their own health. One of the barriers for breastfeeding is the cost of purchasing or renting breast pumps and nursing related supplies.

I am thrilled to hear about this.  There are so many moms (including myself) that have to go back to work full-time shortly after the births of their children.  Right now, in the US, those moms typically have to go back to work at 12 weeks postpartum.  This falls under FMLA, which makes no requirement that these moms get paid during that time.  If you’re lucky enough (like me) to work for a company that does elect to pay during this time… Great!

Many moms aren’t that lucky.  I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a mom from a low-income family, have a baby, and then be faced with the prospect of having to choose to put food on the table for their families or stay home with their babies.

So imagine this scenario: You’ve just had your baby. You’re about to return to work just a few short weeks after the birth. You’ve worked so hard to breastfeed your baby during those critical first few weeks. You know that your work is required by federal law to allow you time and space to express milk.  But you’ve just been out of work and unpaid for a few weeks.  Finances are really tight.  You don’t have an extra $100-$300 laying around to get the double-electric pump you know you’ll need to be able to express enough milk during your short break to be able to send to daycare with your baby.  You think about the cost of formula, and while you know it’s cheaper in the right now, it’s so much more expensive in the long run.  And anyway, you really wanted to breastfeed your baby and you’ve worked so hard at it.

What kind of a choice is this?  It’s not a choice.  Not at all.  And it’s completely unfair.

According to the CDC:

Breastfeeding rates were examined by income status group. Income status was defined using the poverty income ratio (PIR), an index calculated by dividing family income by a poverty threshold that is specific for family size (3). Low income was defined as PIR less than or equal to 1.85, and high income was defined as PIR greater than 1.85. For the total population, the proportion of infants who were ever breastfed was lower among infants whose families had lower income (57%) compared with infants whose families had higher income status (74%).

Considering how many friends I know that have lost jobs in the current economy, making sure women have access to affordable healthcare, including lactation support if they need it, is critical.

I’m glad that the Affordable Care Act will be going into effect.  I don’t think it is a complete solution. I wish that all women, insured or not, had easy access to the same resources that I do.  I wish that all women could make the choice of how to feed their child–whatever that choice might be–without the outside pressures of simple and brutal economics.

I wish, I wish, I wish.



I’m celebrating World Breastfeeding Week with Natural Parents Network!

You can, too — link up your breastfeeding posts from August 1-7 in the linky below, and enjoy reading, commenting on, and sharing the posts collected here and on Natural Parents Network.

(Visit NPN for the code to place on your blog.)

7 thoughts on “World Breastfeeding Week – Breastpumps Covered by Insurance?

  1. Even when I was really trying to breastfeed, I never saw myself doing it longer than four months. Why? I was going back to work. I was fortunate enough to have a used pump given to me by a friend; all I had to do was buy new tubing and cups. But my school does not have a place that would be appropriate for me to pump in private. I know of one other staff member who’s pumped in the intervening years, and she went to one of the female gym teachers’ offices. (She was close enough to that teacher that she didn’t feel awkward about asking.) I could never have asked that of anyone who had an office.

    In almost 18 years of working in schools, which as we all know is a field dominated by women, this coworker is the only woman I know IRL who works in a school who’s continued to breastfeed after going back to work.


  2. I know two teachers other than myself that pumped. Both of the teachers were in newer parts of the building, so their doors had locks. One blacked out her window with a sign that said, “I’m feeding my baby – please come back later.” The other had a friend guard her room while she pumped. When Rina was born, I pumped in a supply closet. By the time Mia came around, I knew my para well enough to have her on one side of the room near the door (which did not lock) to intercept people who tried to come in while I pumped behind a movable chalkboard in the back of the room – in full view of my para, but it beat the closet.


  3. Zorro and Caroline, I’m not a teacher, but I’ve seen posts about this subject on message boards. I think teaching is a profession that makes finding time (and space!) to express milk particularly difficult.

    One thing I do want to make sure to point out to anyone reading this is that pumping and nursing isn’t an either/or situation. I’ve known several mothers who were able to successfully maintain a breastfeeding relationship with their babies at home, while at daycare the babies drank formula. Just because a baby gets formula during the day (for whatever reason) doesn’t mean he or she can’t nurse in the evenings and at night. Even if you can’t find space or time to pump, you can still continue nursing.

    That said, I find it heartbreaking that we tell our teachers that they must nurture our children at the expense of their own. There’s just something fundamentally unfair about that. Of course, I’m the kind of person who thinks teaching should have some of the highesr pay and better benefits than most other jobs because it’s such a critical role in our society! But don’t let me get up on that soapbox because you will likely not get me down again!


  4. Is there anymore information on this? I am trying to set up a lactation consultant in my area and get her all set up with the insurance companies so that she will be ready to go. Not much information is out there yet. It would be great if it was. I have contacted different insurance companies and they are clueless at this point. Some will not even answer my telephone call. So the more information I can arm myself with it will be easier to credential this provider. thank you.


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