It seems like it should be the most natural thing in the world, but there’s a learn curve when it comes to breastfeeding — for both babies and mamas.
Babies don’t always latch correctly, causing ache for mom and frustration for baby. And it’s not always the sweet moment we see in the movies: Breasts can get engorged. Milk ducts can get clogged. Plus, learning to pump can be a challenge. And cracked teats? Entirely a thing.
I was highly fortunate to have my mom — who also happened to be a professional lactation consultant — stay with me for two weeks after each of my babies was born. Her expertise and encouragement was crucial to my positive breastfeeding experience.
Not all women have that kind of support though. Many don’t have anything close to it.
But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more mamas now have access to professional lactation support services and equipment — and it’s making a big difference.
Indiana University released the results of a study analyzing breastfeeding rates from 2009 -2 014 to see how the ACA’s 2012 policy change regarding lactation service coverage affected them. After Aug. 1, 2012, most insurance schemes were required to cover breastfeeding services and renders. The mandate also required big employers to provide time and space for breastfeeding mothers to pump.
The result? About 47,000 more newborns were breastfed in one year after the policy change took effect. In addition, newborns were breastfed for a few weeks longer on average. Average breastfeeding duration increasedby 10%, and duration of exclusive breastfeeding increased during 21%.
Researcher Lindsey Bullinger of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs says those outcomes are encouraging. “The Affordable Care Act has had a significant, positive effect on breastfeeding, ” she told, “and our findings show that many more the women and many more children will likely lead healthier lives as a result.”
It’s no secret that President Obama was a fan of the ACA — and of babies. I’m sure he’s pretty happy to hear about the results of this study.
According to the study, the ACA lactation support appears to have especially benefited black moms, single moms, and moms with less education .
That’s good news, as black moms have historically faced obstacles to breastfeeding and single mommies are usually running moms.
Breastfeeding supplies can be expensive, and running mommies require the support of employers in order to pump breastmilk at work. Having insurance companies cover supplies and lactation assist, in addition to ensuring that women have day and space to pump at work, going to be able to mommies who want to breastfeed do so successfully for longer.
“Many of the economic onus, such as the costs of buying a breast pump, may be greater for less educated or unmarried mothers, ” told Bullinger. “These are groups that historically have had lower breastfeeding rates, so the increases we received are especially welcome.”
Supplies and subsistence make a difference, especially for running moms. Ask any mom who’s ever utilized a good breast pump.( Also, ask Ijeoma Oluo, who shared the best pumping-at-work story ever on Twitter .)
Thanks @ nayahealthco for helping me build a stash of 1000+ ounces of #liquidgold in less than 2 months without any pain or soreness! I definitely believe it is the extraction technique that induces certain differences. I had to use a different pump for 2 days and only pumped a fraction of what I normally pump . . #pumplife #pumpingmom #pumpingmama #nayabreastpump #nayahealth #nayahealthco #breastmilk #breastmilkstorage #lanisoh #lanisohbags #bestbreastpump
Not all mommies breastfeed, of course — and that’s their choice. But those interested in breastfeeding should be given all the support they need .
The ACA has been controversial from the start, and some may feel that mandating insurance companies to cover breastfeeding supplies and services is overstepping. But considering the health benefits breastfeeding offers mothers and newborns, anything that removes obstacles and assistances construct breastfeeding easier for those who want to do it should be welcomed with open arms.
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