May 23, 2023 Healthy Living

Maternity Benefits Part II: Breastfeeding Benefits

It takes a team effort to make breastfeeding work. Many new parents lean on their partners, parents, friends, co-workers, employer, providers, lactation consultants, and local breastfeeding support groups to help them along the way (not to mention a trusty breast pump that you can get for free from your health plan).

Leading health organizations across the world recommend that mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for the first six months to achieve optimal growth and health. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that breastfeeding continue for two years and thereafter, if desired. Breastfeeding provides the best source of nutrition for a new baby and health benefits for mom, but it isn’t always easy. Here in New York, many groups and organizations work to create a supportive environment for women to breastfeed successfully—including CDPHP! In fact, CDPHP helps members access breastfeeding equipment (e.g., a breast pump and supplies), classes, and support that can impact whether or not someone starts breastfeeding and for how long.

Need a breast pump? CDPHP can help.

As mentioned in an earlier post on maternity benefits, CDPHP members can get a standard manual or electric breast pump at no cost from participating durable medical equipment vendors as part of their maternity benefits. The pump will come with all the supplies needed, including a power cord, flanges, and tubing. Many vendors also sell additional accessories, but keep in mind that most of those extras are not covered by health insurance. To get a pump, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor, so be sure to ask for one during a prenatal visit. Members who are expecting can order from a participating online or local store that sells breastfeeding supplies (not all medical supply vendors do). The online stores will ship the pump to your home for free, typically during the third trimester. CDPHP members can order through any participating durable medical equipment vendor that carries breast pumps, including:

To find other participating vendors, visit Find-A-Doc and search for durable medical equipment vendors.

Sometimes providers will recommend using a hospital-grade pump (a heavy-duty electric pump) for those with breastfeeding challenges. CDPHP members can rent one from a participating vendor (like the Yummy Mummy Store) if recommended by a provider. To find out what supplies are covered by your CDPHP plan or for help finding a participating breast pump vendor, members can always contact member services.

It’s important to keep in mind proper breast pump hygiene and cleaning. Germs can grow quickly in breast milk or breast milk residue that remains on the pump parts. The CDC offers step by step instructions on how to properly clean breast pumps.

Looking ahead to the end of your breastfeeding journey when you’re ready to part with your pump, you can recycle it for free! Many breast pump manufacturers offer recycling programs like Medela Recycles. Check the pump manufacturer’s website to find out how to recycle or safely dispose of your pump.

If you didn’t end up using the breast pump you ordered, many local lactation consultants will accept donations of unused breast pumps to pass on to families who can use them.

Preparing for breastfeeding? CDPHP can help with that, too.

One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for breastfeeding success is to take a lactation class before your baby arrives. While breastfeeding is a natural process, it is also a learned act. Many hospitals in the area offer breastfeeding preparation classes that cover topics like the benefits of breastfeeding, what to expect, the basics of getting started, breastfeeding positions and techniques, how to read your baby’s hunger cues, maintaining your milk supply, and how to overcome common obstacles. Some also address pumping when returning to work or school. In general these classes are recommended during any time in pregnancy and for those who are planning to breastfeed or are undecided about breastfeeding.

Plan ahead and register early for a class to make sure you get a spot, as many can fill up quickly. Bring your partner or another support person (and a healthy snack) with you so they can learn the basics, too. These classes are taught by lactation professionals, so the other advantage of attending a class during pregnancy is you will meet a provider you can call if you need help after your baby arrives.

Many hospitals offer breastfeeding preparation classes monthly for moms (and sometime separate classes for partners) in addition to childbirth or parenting classes. Classes range from one to three hours and the average cost is $50-$75 per couple; however, some are free. Although you will need to pay up front for these classes, eligible CDPHP members who attend a class can get fully reimbursed for breastfeeding preparation classes. For childbirth or parenting classes, eligible members can complete the maternal health education reimbursement form to receive up to $75 in reimbursement.*

If you have questions about how to get reimbursed, contact member services. To find a class near you, ask your provider or check what your local hospital offers.

Need breastfeeding help? Don’t wait.

If you’re experiencing a decrease in breastmilk supply, oversupply, painful nursing, or any other breastfeeding concerns, reach out to a lactation consultant. The consultation can provide you with support and pointers to help with your concern. The interaction can also restore your confidence when it comes to breastfeeding. Knowing that many CDPHP health plans cover professional lactation counseling should definitely encourage you to use those available services! As with the classes, you may need to pay up front for the service, but eligible CDPHP members who receive lactation counseling can get fully reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs. To find a lactation consultant near you, search “lactation” on CDPHP Find-A-Doc.

If you have a problem or are concerned about how breastfeeding is going, don’t wait. Ask someone for help. Start with your pediatrician, OB/GYN, or midwife’s office. In some cases, they’ll be able to help you, or they may refer you to a lactation consultant (the experts when it comes to the breastfeeding experience). Here’s a tip: Ask your OB/GYN about finding a lactation consultant before you deliver so that you have their number on hand in case you need help after your baby arrives. You also have access to lactation support through Ovia Health.**  

Other tips for breastfeeding success

  • Seek out mother-to-mother support, encouragement, and information to help you along your breastfeeding journey. Join a breastfeeding discussion or support group with the La Leche League (LLL) or your local hospital. WIC-eligible moms can also speak with a WIC peer counselor. Contact your local WIC office for more information.
  • Visit a baby café, a free drop-in center that provides breastfeeding support by qualified lactation specialists for pregnant and/or new parents in the community. Meet other breastfeeding moms and receive up-to-date information from lactation professionals. 

*Participation in these services is dependent on plan type and may not apply for self-funded plan members. Please check your member contract or call the number on your ID card to see if you’re eligible.

**The Ovia Health apps (Ovia, Ovia Pregnancy, and Ovia Parenting) are available at no-cost through the Apple and Android app store. Eligible CDPHP members also have access to premium features such as the Ovia Care Team, which can be accessed selecting that you have Ovia Health as a benefit during signup and entering CDPHP. Learn more about Ovia Health.

Elise Shaver
About the Author

Elise Shaver joined CDPHP® in February 2021 as a marketing communications coordinator and currently serves as communications specialist. A native of the Capital Region, Elise earned her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Siena College. She brings several years of experience in both the marketing and not-for-profit industry. Elise enjoys the outdoors, gardening, and spending time with her family.

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