Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that infants should be breast-fed exclusively for the first six months of life and partially for the rest of the baby’s first year. The bad news is under the current laws, new moms only receive 12 weeks of maternity leave— even worse it is usually unpaid. When women opt to follow the experts’ advice they have to use a breast pump in order to express mother’s milk for the infant from their breasts.
Employers have been slow to provide facilities for women who are breast pumping. At times, women have to store their breast milk in lunchroom refrigerators, much to the consternation of fellow employees. In short, breast pumping is a hassle.
The good news is that federal law mandates that women be given time to breast pump at work and The Affordable Care Act mandates that insurance companies pay for a breast pump. Breast pumps can cost as much as $300. With insurance companies having to provide reimbursement for them, new moms can breast-feed their babies even after they return to work. Breast milk is known to have important immune system benefits along with protecting premature babies from a life-threatening gastrointestinal problem.
In addition to the health benefits of breast-feeding for babies there are favorable economic reasons to do so. Even without breast pump reimbursement, formula feeding during the first year of the baby’s life costs $1500-$2000, while breast-feeding doesn’t cost anything. Now with reimbursement for breast pumps mandated by law the savings are that much sweeter.
To take advantage of this benefit new moms check with their insurance carrier. While all will pay for breast pumps, they have different guidelines, mainly whether your pump will be supplied medical supply house instead of a major retail outlet.
Now, if employers would only provide comfortable rooms and separate storage facility for moms who breast-feed, it would be almost as good as having more time off.