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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Breastfeeding: Easier for Working Moms with New Insurance Rules

New moms often wonder if frozen breast milk will be as healthy as directly from the breast and if it's worth it to take time to pump at work. YES it is worth it!

Breastfeeding has been shown to keep babies healthy. So much so that many companies have started encouraging breastfeeding with pumping rooms and extra free time during the work day because they know it will decrease the unscheduled time off of parents home with sick kids. Unfortunately breastfeeding rates at 6 months (~60%)  and a year drop (~34%) considerably from those breastfeeding immediately after birth (~82%). As of August 1, 2012, breast pump supplies should be covered by insurance, which might make the $200+ price tag of a pump more appealing. Check with your insurance company for coverage. 

Moms often ask when they can start pumping and when it is too soon. If baby isn't latching well in the days after birth, you can start immediately. Pumping can help bring in milk more quickly, especially if baby isn't feeding effectively yet. If baby is feeding well and you want to wait until you need to start collecting a supply, then it is fine to wait. Babies should be introduced to a bottle by about 3-4 weeks of age. If you wait too long they often refuse it completely. If you don't have a milk collection yet, you can pump and give the fresh milk directly by bottle. Having another caregiver (Dad, Grandma, sitter) give the bottle often makes it more acceptable to baby. If mom's there they often want the "real thing".  

If you use frozen milk, you can defrost it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, then warm it in a cup of warm water. Never microwave or boil it. Not only can this make it too hot for baby, but it might also destroy some of the great properties of breast milk. For guidelines on milk storage, you can visit the La Leche League International Guidelines and WomensHealth.gov.

If you're struggling with breastfeeding, don't just give up! Work with your pediatrician and/or a lactation consultant. Help is available to make it possible for most mothers to breastfeed!



More help:

The La Leche League has compiled a list of FAQs and articles on breastfeeding for working mothers on their Working and Breastfeeding page.

If you need help working with supervisors to schedule a time a place to pump, the US Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services, and Maternal and Child Health Bureau has put together a very informative online guide which includes a sample letter to give to your supervisor.