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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Being Able to Breastfeed Just Got a Little Easier

Kate Blocher

Staff Writer

Having a baby is a wonderful and joyous experience, but it can also be expensive. Very expensive. From the prenatal care, to the birthing costs, to making sure you have all the right tools and gadgets necessary to raise a happy and healthy baby—the costs can add up. Thanks to Obamacare, starting August 1, women will have access to new prevention-related health care services that will hopefully make new motherhood a little easier and less expensive.

New plans and plans that are renewed  starting August 1 must cover the costs of breastfeeding support and services. This means that insurance plans will pay for the cost of visits with lactation consultants to help new moms get started with nursing and will cover the cost of breast pumps and accessories. In addition, employers must now provide nursing mothers with breaks and a private space to express breast milk in the workplace—protecting 19 million employed women.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, ask any nursing mother—breastfeeding isn’t always easy and breast pumps are pretty pricey, too. Breast-pumps and accessories cost nursing moms about $300 to $750 each year. Further, many women either have very short maternity leaves or no leave at all, so if they want to breastfeed their baby, having a breast pump and a place to privately pump milk at the office is a must.

Although not necessarily an option for all new mothers, breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and baby. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) :

  • Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses that include diarrhea, ear infections, and pneumonia.
  • Breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma.
  • Children who are breastfed for six months are less likely to become obese.
  • Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

In addition to the health benefits, there are many economic benefits associated with breastfeeding. For instance:

  • Breastfeeding families can save between $1,200 and $1,500 on infant formula in the first year alone.
  • For both employers and employees, better infant health means fewer health insurance claims, less employee time off to care for sick children, and higher productivity.

Starting August 1 being able to breastfeed just got a little easier—thanks Obamacare!