Progress has been slow, but we’re starting to see the US become a more supportive place for breastfeeding moms. Laws entitle women to nurse in public, pump at work and have access to free products and services designed to give breastfeeding a boost in this country. But surprisingly, 82 percent of moms aren’t aware of all their legal rights and benefits, a new survey shows.
By law, women have the right to a private space to pump (and no, the bathroom doesn’t count), and their employers are required to let them take pumping breaks at work—something 61 percent of women weren’t aware of, according to a recent survey sponsored by Byram Healthcare, a medical supply company that provides no-cost breast pumps through insurance. The fact is, there are a whole host of free health benefits breastfeeding moms are legally entitled to, thanks to the Obama-era Affordable Care Act—but these big money-savers apparently aren’t well known.
Of the 1,000 expectant mothers surveyed, 64 percent didn’t know that sessions with a lactation consultant are covered at no cost to them under most of today’s insurance policies. That’s right—it’s mandatory for most insurance plans to cover lactation support and counseling, as well as equipment for the duration of your breastfeeding period, including before and after you’ve given birth.
That means you’re entitled to a breast pump through your health insurance (and whatever else your doctor deems medically appropriate for you). But 42 percent of women didn’t know you can order a breast pump, usually at no cost (though some policies might require a co-pay). And we’re not just talking a basic manual pump—insurance also covers premium double-electric pumps. Worried you won’t be able to get your pump of choice? You’re not alone, the survey shows, but rest assured plenty of popular name-brand breast pumps, like Medela, Spectra, Lansinoh and others, are available.
So how can you go about getting your free pump? First check with your insurance policy to see what’s fully covered and what retailers would be considered in-network. You can place an order as soon as get that positive pregnancy test, if you’d like. The only caveat for many insurance companies is that the pump won’t actually be shipped until 30 days before your due date.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months and continuing as long as mom and baby desire—so taking advantage of these benefits could save you big bucks. Breastfeeding isn’t always easy, but at least there are policies in place to help you succeed. If you’re in need of more help, check out these 12 tips for making breastfeeding a little easier.