My daughter was a champion breast-feeder. (These days she tries, and often fails, to be a champion rester at pre-kindergarden.) While there were a few bumps in the road – a slow start, a clogged duct, some supply issues as we closed in on the 12-month mark – breastfeeding was one of the easier things in her first year of life.
Nevertheless, I estimate that I spent over $700 on breastfeeding that year. It all adds up – a breast pump, some help from lactation consultants, renting a hospital-grade rental pump to help maintain supply those last few months of pumping at work – even for a mom-baby pair that didn’t experience many problems.
$700 is a lot of money, but it didn’t feel like such a big financial bite after I spoke to my friend Meaghan. Meaghan has spent exactly $761.90 in the first four weeks of her younger daughter’s life. That includes four visits with lactation consultants, renting a hospital-grade pump, pump parts and supplies, and supplements to help with thrush and clogged ducts. Her newborn has trouble latching, so Meaghan has been pumping and then bottle-feeding, and seeking a lot of help
Meaghan is submitting her breastfeeding expenses to her insurance company and hopes they will reimburse her for these costs as well as future expenses. Soon, though, moms like Meaghan who seek help with breastfeeding won’t need to just hope they have coverage. The Affordable Care Act ensures that women will have more comprehensive coverage for preventive services beginning in August, 2012. This means insurance companies will be required to pay for breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling – including breast pump rentals, lactation consultant services, and other breastfeeding help.
When I think about our advocacy for better health coverage and better access to health care for women and their families, I think about moms like Meaghan. Coverage for breastfeeding support is just one example of how our work helps American mothers take care of their own health and the health of their families.