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The Affordable Care Act: Breastpumps, Lactation Services and Coverage

by Jennifer Fera 4. December 2013

You have likely heard a lot of “buzz” about the changes to healthcare laws enacted by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare”, but many people are unsure of how the ACA might affect them directly.  One of the exciting new changes that impacts new parents is that health insurance plans are now required to cover breastfeeding support, supplies and breastpumps.  However, because every plan is different, finding out what your individual insurer covers and how to access this benefit can be complex.  Medela, a company that manufactures breast pumps, conducted a survey of some of the largest insurance companies earlier this year and has provided some of their findings to the public.  We as lactation consultants have also interviewed many of our patients to find out what their experiences have been with their own providers.  We have combined this information to provide you with a few things you should know in order to help make the process a little easier:

  1. It’s best to start planning early.  Most insurance plans do not allow you to get your breast pump until your baby is born.  But it is never too early to ask your insurance provider what pumps they will cover and when you can get it.  This will give you time to research your options and decide which pump will suit your needs best.  Being proactive may help you get your pump faster once the baby is born.
     
  2. You may not have to compromise.  60% of companies surveyed by Medela will allow you to upgrade from their basic option to the pump of your choice if you are willing to pay the difference in price.  For example, if your insurance company will pay for a manual pump or a basic single electric pump, but you know that you will be going back to work full time and will need a high quality double electric pump in order to maintain your supply, you may be able to pay the difference in cost and get the pump that best suits your needs.  Not all insurance representatives will communicate this information to you proactively, so you may have to ask.
     
  3. You have options if things do not go as planned.  77% of insurance companies surveyed by Medela cover the cost of rental for a hospital grade pump if there is a medical need such as prematurity.  Most insurance companies require pre-authorization in the form of a doctor’s prescription or letter of medical necessity in order for this type of pump to be covered, so it is helpful to know ahead of time what your insurance company’s procedure is.
     
  4. You don’t have to go without a pump.  Each plan has a specific procedure for obtaining a breast pump.  Some may require you to purchase your pump from a “durable medical goods provider”.  Others will give you a list of online breast pump providers and allow you to choose from the pumps offered by those companies.  However, most plans are willing to be flexible if the covered pump isn’t available, and will let you chose another pump that might not normally be covered, or reimburse your for a pump purchased from a retail store.
      
  5. You’re never on your own.  Almost all plans now cover lactation counseling without a co-pay, so you can rest assured that you won’t have to go it alone if you need extra help with breastfeeding after you leave the hospital.  Many plans also cover breastfeeding supplies.  Speak to your provider about what they cover and how to access those supplies.

As you can see, there’s a lot you may need to find out about what your insurance provider covers and how to gain access to covered supplies and services, but it’s important to know that you have a voice!  Call your insurance company early and ask questions.  If you still have questions, check out www.breastfeedinginsurance.com for even more information.

 

Breastfeeding Tips for Mothers and Families

by Patti Jacobson 20. August 2013

Although breastfeeding is a learned skill, it does take practice and patience to become successful.  We would like to share some “tips” with you and your family members as you begin an exciting new chapter in your life!

Breastfeeding Tips for Mothers:

1. Begin breastfeeding as soon as possible

2. Nurse your baby 8-12 times in each 24 hours, starting on the first day of life, and continue until infant is back to birth weight.

3. Keep your baby where you can watch for feeding clues: hand/finger sucking, putting his/her fists to cheek, “open mouth searching.”

4. Try different positions to find the ones that work best for you and your baby.

5. Ask a nurse to observe a few feedings to check for proper positioning and latch.  This will help to prevent sore nipples and increase your milk supply.

6. If you are unable to breastfeed your baby right away, be sure to pump your milk regularly to increase and maintain your milk supply.

7. Listen carefully for your baby to make swallowing sounds while you nurse him/her.

8. Nighttime feeds are a critical part of breastfeeding.  Supplemental bottles or replacing nursing with bottles has a negative impact on milk production.

9. Drink plenty of fluids.

10. The most important thing to remember is to take good care of you.  You are only as good to your baby as you are to yourself.

 

Breastfeeding Tips for Other Family Members:
You have your own unique role in getting involved and supporting breastfeeding.

1. Tell mom what a great job she is doing.

2. Listen and offer
support.

3. Help wake infant for feedings by changing diapers, allowing mom to rest during feedings.

4. Assure that mother has plenty of fluids to drink while nursing.

5. Assist mom with nighttime breastfeeding.

6. Help mom find a comfortable nursing position.

7. Answer telephone and take messages, especially when mom is breastfeeding.

8. Monitor visitors, particularly unexpected visitors and visitors who overstay their welcome, to ensure a restful stay in the hospital.

9. After the baby has finished feeding, cuddle and rock your infant.

10. Give mom a back rub

11. Create a “positive and calming atmosphere” to encourage and support a healthy breastfeeding relationship.


We hope you found these tips helpful! What are some of your tips for moms and their families?

Patti Jacobson & Jen Fera
Lactation Consultants

Feeding Your Newborn

by Patti Jacobson 1. July 2013

Congratulations!  You are a new parent and beginning a wonderful new journey in life.  As part of this journey, you are making decisions that will affect your infant for life.  I wanted to add on to the conversation that Jill began in her last post about the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative...

One of the earliest decisions you will make is how to provide optimal nutrition to your new baby.  If you have chosen to breastfeed your infant, you have chosen the oldest and most complete form of nutrition.  There is no doubt that breast milk provides all of the nutrients required for proper growth and development and is perfectly matched for your baby’s needs. Breastfeeding has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the United States Surgeon General and the World Health Organization. Health experts recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months and continuing to breastfeed at least until the infant is a year of age. 

Still, many parents DO have doubts and concerns about breastfeeding…and that’s okay!  Remember that support and encouragement are key factors in the success of breastfeeding. We, the physicians, nurses and lactation consultants at Bellevue Woman’s Center, are committed to addressing these concerns as we assist you with the breastfeeding process both before and after the birth of your baby.   Our goal is to continuously provide breastfeeding education, support and encouragement to all new mothers and families by offering:

• Prenatal breastfeeding preparation Classes
• Lactation Consultants on Hospital Staff
• Telephone “Warm Line” for families before and after baby’s birth
• Outpatient Lactation Consultation
• Post-partum “More about Breastfeeding” Support Group
 
For more information on classes or support groups, please contact Community education at 518-346-9410 or the Lactation Consultants at 518-346-9514.

The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative

by Jill Hagan 24. June 2013

You may be asking, “What’s it all about?”…

Well, The Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI), frequently referred to as the Baby Friendly Initiative (BFI), is a program launched in 1991 by the World Health Organization and UNICEF in an attempt to improve the role of maternity services globally, and to educate and enable mothers to breastfeed their babies, giving them the best start in life from the beginning.

The focus of the initiative is to improve the care of pregnant women, mothers, and newborns at health facilities that provide maternity services for protecting, promoting and supporting breastfeeding. The BFHI aims to increase the numbers of babies who are exclusively breastfed worldwide; a goal which the WHO estimates could contribute to avoiding over a million child deaths each year.

Breastfeeding has been, and continues to be a controversial topic for many families and doctors. However, through research and studies, breastfeeding has been found to have many benefits for both babies and mothers.

UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and many national government health agencies recommend that babies should be breastfed exclusively for their first six months of life. Multiple studies done over the years have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to suffer from serious illnesses to include a few; gastroenteritis, asthma, and respiratory and ear infections.

Researchers have also found that adults who were breastfed as babies are proven to be less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease such as obesity and high blood pressure. Some of the benefits for the moms include; women who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer and hip fractures in later life.

Bellevue Woman’s Center is striving to become a Baby-Friendly designated facility.

Exclusive breastfeeding has become the Gold Standard for feeding worldwide. At BWC we strive to provide our patients and families with the best evidenced based care available. Our goal in becoming a designated hospital includes:

-improving health outcomes for mothers and babies
-enhancing  patient and family-centered care
-improving patient satisfaction
-elevating our reputation and standards within our community
-meeting The Joint Commission’s maternity care standards for exclusive breast milk feeding

BWC also continues to work in moving forward in achieving Active Healthy People 2020 goals for breastfeeding.

Of course, breastfeeding sometimes isn’t ideal for every mom, so please know you will be supported at Bellevue no matter what your situation. Our ultimate goal is to provide the support and high quality care you and your baby need to ensure healthy and happy outcomes!