By Sarah Wells, CEO & Founder, Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags & Megan O’Neill, CLC, Acelleron Maternal Health & Wellness
Think you might use a breast pump along your breastfeeding journey? Here is a quick guide for getting a pump and using it effectively:
Breast Pumps and Insurance
The Health Reform law (Affordable Care Act or “ACA”) requires most health insurance plans to provide moms with a breast pump. The type of pump (double-electric, manual, etc.) and whether it is a rental or for you to own, is up to the insurance plan.
Insurance plans in place prior to the new law are “grandfathered” in. This means they can follow the old rules. They do not have to provide you a pump free-of-charge. But, do not give up. They may still offer you a pump with a co-pay.
You will need to work with an approved durable medical equipment (“DME”) supplier who can bill insurance (and in some cases, retailers, hospitals or lactation practices can also do this for you). Call your insurance for a list of approved suppliers or do a quick online search for “DME and breast pump” and you will find several websites providing supplier lists by insurance type. These suppliers can be of great assistance to you by communicating with your health plan directly on details such as reimbursement level, timing of when you can get the pump and more. Many even offer free and expedited shipping of your pump.
A special note for military moms: Tricare, the military’s health care program, is exempt from the health reform law mandate for breast pump coverage; Tricare only covers hospital-grade pumps in some cases of premature birth. Legislation to require Tricare to cover breast pumps is working its way through Congress now.
Choosing the Right Breast Pump
If you are using insurance coverage to obtain your breast pump, speak with the supplier providing your pump (several have lactation consultants on staff!) to learn which brands and options are available to you.
Good questions to ask yourself in choosing a pump are: how frequently will I pump (a small hand pump might be just what you need if you will pump infrequently, whereas a double-electric pump with effective suction and well-fitting flanges will make a big difference for successful frequent pumping); and do you need portability (if yes, look for lighter weight pumps and buy a battery pack)?
Tips for Successful Breast Pumping
In addition to getting a quality breast pump that has the right features for you and fits well, here are a few of our favorite tips for successful breast pumping:
- Get spare parts.
As a busy new mom, it can save you time and energy to have spare parts (flanges, bottles, tubing) around for when you need to grab your pump and go, while other parts may still be on the drying rack or waiting to be cleaned. This also can go a long way in avoiding situations where you forget a part and really need to complete a pumping session!
- Store your dirty parts in the refrigerator in between pumping sessions, within the same day.
Rather than trying to thoroughly clean your pump parts in an office sink, bathroom or during the middle of the night, store them in a clean container in the fridge. Thoroughly clean the pump parts after a day of use.
- Look at a picture of your baby, and listen to baby, while you pump.
Not only will looking at a photo, or listening to your baby (record your little one on your smartphone!) help remind you of all positive reasons you are on your breastfeeding/pumping journey, but it’s proven to help with let down, for faster and more efficient pumping!
- Start back at work mid/late week.
If you are headed back to work at a Monday-Friday job, and will be pumping, try scheduling your return date at the middle or end of the week; this will give you a few days of practice for your new pumping routine, with the relief of a weekend break to make any adjustments needed and to be back in touch with your little one.
Please take the time to congratulate yourself on your pumping efforts; for many moms, pumping can be quite the undertaking of time, resources, and energy. Pumping is an awesome thing you are doing for you and your child(ren); for many moms, pumping is an integral part (or the entire experience) of their breastfeeding journey. Finally, seek help if something is not right; if your pump is not working well, contact the manufacturer or supplier who provided it to you. If you are having issues with supply or with the pumping process in general, seek support from certified lactation consultants and from the breastfeeding community.
To get your pumping journey off to a great start, Sarah Wells and Acelleron are partnering with a few other great companies to offer you a chance to win a bundle of products with a value of over $700 in the following giveaway!
Prizes included are:
Good luck to everyone! Please use the widget below to be entered. The giveaway is open from November 4, 2014 through November 11, 2014. A big thanks to Sarah Wells Breast Pump Bags, Acelleron, Milkin’ Cookies, Naked Nursing Tank, Milk It, and The Dairy Fairy for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding and pumping women; please be sure to look them up on your favorite social network platform and thank them for their support of TLB and this giveaway opportunity!
This giveaway is restricted to U.S. residents only.