August 01, 2017 Healthy Living

Maternity Benefits Part II: Breastfeeding Benefits

It takes a team effort to make breastfeeding work. I know this from personal experience. I’m proud and grateful to have breastfed both my kids for more than a year, but I have to give credit to my husband, mom, friends, co-workers, employer, providers, lactation consultants, and local breastfeeding support groups for helping me along the way (not to mention my trusty breast pump that I got for free from my 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 at least one year and thereafter as long as mother and baby desire. 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 women access breastfeeding equipment (e.g., a breast pump and supplies), classes, and support that can impact whether a mom 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. Expecting mothers 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:

  • Marra’s Pharmacy (pick-up available) 217 Remsen Street, Cohoes, NY 12047 (518) 237-2110
  • Yummy Mummy Store (online only)(212) 879-8669 (TIP: Yummy Mummy also rents hospital-grade pumps.)

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 moms 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.

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.

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 women who are planning to breastfeed or are undecided about breastfeeding.

I ended up taking a breastfeeding preparation class the day before my daughter was born, which was cutting it a little too close. 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 $25-$35 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. You’ll need to submit the receipt and proof of payment with a claim reimbursement form (Medical and HRA claim forms are available by logging in to If you have an HSA, use the HSA claim form). 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.

After my first child was born, in less than a month after returning to work I started to panic about my decreasing breastmilk supply. I needed help if I was going to be able to continue breastfeeding and working full time, so I called a lactation consultant (who I found through my local breastfeeding support group). The consultation was well worth it; I left with my confidence restored and some tricks to increase my milk supply. Knowing that my health plan covered professional lactation counseling definitely encouraged me to use those available services – and it should encourage you, too! 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.

If you have a problem or are concerned about how breastfeeding is going, don’t wait. Call 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. If you need additional help, members can call the CDPHP Single Source Referral Line at 1-888-942-3747 to speak with a certified lactation counselor or nurse case manager.

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 mothers in the community. Meet other breastfeeding moms and receive up-to-date information from lactation professionals. New baby cafés are now open in Troy and Schenectady! See below for more information.
  • Find a breastfeeding-friendly doctor’s office. Health care providers play an important role in promoting and supporting breastfeeding. The New York State Department of Health recognizes doctors’ offices that have breastfeeding-friendly office policies and practices. To find out which of these practices are in the CDPHP network, check Find-A-Doc.
Katie Potestio
About Author

Katie joined CDPHP in 2016 as a population health and wellness specialist in the population health and wellness department. In her role, she works on a portfolio of projects related to maternal and preventive health, nutrition, and worksite wellness, with the goal to improve health outcomes and create environments that support healthy living. Prior to CDPHP, Katie supported state public health department chronic disease prevention efforts with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Haverford College outside Philadelphia and a master’s degree in public health from the University of Washington in Seattle. Katie is a registered dietitian, mother of two children, and an outdoor enthusiast.

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