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breastfeeding with flat or inverted nipples

Can you breastfeed with flat or inverted nipples?

Breastfeeding with flat nipples is possible, but it can be frustrating.

Moms often wonder if their breasts are the right size or shape for breastfeeding. I’ve got a friend with small breasts who was worried about whether she would be able to produce enough milk. Her lactation consultant reassured her that breast size does not determine milk quantity (or quality) and that she had “perfect nipples for breastfeeding.” Who knew that was a thing? Friends with larger breasts have worried that their nipples were too flat for breastfeeding, but lo and behold, babies usually figure it out given a few days of experimentation.

Nipples come in every shape and size imaginable. It’s true that some make breastfeeding easier and others, like flat or inverted nipples, may create some special challenges for nursing moms and their babies just getting the hang of breastfeeding. However, most women can breastfeed successfully regardless of nipple shape.

Self-check your nipple protrusion.

Truly inverted nipples will flatten or retract into your breast when stimulated. You can check your nipple protrusion (or retraction) by squeezing gently on the edges of your areola with your thumb and forefinger. If your nipple stiffens and protrudes, your baby should be able to nurse successfully. If your nipple retracts, it may take a little extra time and effort to help baby latch onto your breasts, but it’s still doable in most cases.

Share your concerns with a lactation consultant.

Stress is an even bigger obstacle to successful breastfeeding than nipple shape, and worrying about your nipple shape is just another stressor. Most health insurance plans, including TRICARE, provide new mothers with at least some access to a lactation consultant. Take advantage of this resource. An expert will be able to put your mind at ease and reassure you that your baby is getting sufficient breast milk. If your nipples are flat or inverted, a lactation consultant will be able to give you specific advice tailored to your unique breastfeeding circumstances.

Hand express before breastfeeding.

When your breast is engorged with milk, it may become hard, and your nipple may flatten as a result. Hand-expressing or massaging your breast before nursing sessions softens your breast. This makes it easier for baby to latch on.

Try the Hoffman exercise to stimulate a flat or inverted nipple.

The Hoffman exercise is a technique created specifically to help women with breast abnormalities such as long, short, flat, inverted, and cracked nipples breastfeed. A 2020 study found that the method was a successful intervention for mothers who were struggling with nursing as a result of breast abnormalities. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Place the thumbs of both hands opposite to each other at the base of the nipple.
  2. Pull the thumbs away from each other gently but firmly, both up and down and sideways.
  3. Repeat up to five times a day.

The Hoffman exercise can be done during pregnancy to prepare the nipples, and it can be used throughout breastfeeding, offering mothers a safe, simple and painless treatment for flat or inverted nipples.

Use a breast pump to help draw out a flat or inverted nipple.

If hand expressing and the Hoffman exercise are not quite enough to draw out your flat or inverted nipples, the suction from a breast pump may do the trick. Use your breast pump for a minute or two before breastfeeding to prime your nipple and draw it out for baby.

Breast pumps are covered by most health insurance plans.

A breast pump can be a lifesaver for a mom with flat or inverted nipples. It can help to draw out your nipple, and if you decide that breastfeeding is not for you, you can still give your baby most of the health advantages by pumping. Not sure which breast pump would give you the greatest advantage? At Milk N Mamas Baby, we’ve all experienced the challenges and the joys of breastfeeding and pumping. We’re experts at the benefits provided by each of our breast pumps. Feel free to reach out to us with your concerns if you’d like advice on choosing a breast pump that will help with flat or inverted nipples.

Which breast pump helps busy moms pump faster from anywhere?

We asked one of the busiest moms we know which breast pump she preferred.

Rosina Sigloch is a work-at-home mom with six kids ranging in age from three-months old up. With four girls and two boys, Rosina has seen it all when it comes to raising kids. She’s also had years of pumping experience, though she had been relying on manual pumps with her earlier children as breast pumps, at the time, were not covered by most insurance providers.

“I hadn’t used a breast pump in forever before my daughter. In the past, I always just had the hand pumps. When I found out I was pregnant this time, my sister-in-law told me that insurance companies cover pumps now. I have so much extra milk, I decided to go for it,” Rosina said in a recent interview.

Rosina’s mom Donna is a lead IBCLC/Nurse Practitioner who also has extensive knowledge of breast pumps. She sent Rosina all the pumps her insurance would cover.

“I’d seen an ad for the Willow,” Rosina said. “I thought, ‘That looks so cool! I can wear it without having the bottle!’ But it was really expensive, and I didn’t want to spend too much.”

When Rosina found the Elvie Stride, she was thrilled she could have the same benefits as the Willow but in a breast pump covered by her insurance.  “I love the fact that you can just put it on and go,” she said. “You don’t have to sit and wait to finish. I can just stick the cups in my nursing bra and go about my business!”

The Elvie Stride is a wearable bra covered by many insurance plans.

The Elvie Stride is 100% covered by Tricare for active duty military moms and mil-spouses and for civilian moms by many other insurance companies. In other words, you can apply your insurance breast pump benefit to the Stride and enjoy the benefits of a premium wearable pump without the premium price tag. However, this pump is only sold through select durable medical equipment (DME) companies, like Milk N Mamas Baby.

How does the Stride stack up in terms of other breast pump benefits, according to Rosina and other moms who have used it?

The Stride has great suction, and it pumps quickly.

“I wondered at first if this pump could actually have enough suction to work the right way,” Rosina mentioned. “It definitely did, even more so! I could have six ounces of breastmilk in less than ten minute. That’s super-efficient. The suction was really good and so quick!”

The Stride is easy to use and clean.

In addition to being easy to use, The Stride cleans up easily. It’s even dishwasher safe. Rosina noted, “I can just pop the cups off, and they’re so easy to clean!”

This super modern breast pump is also ultra-quiet, smart, and customizable.

Elvie designed the Stride with noise reduction technology so that doesn’t draw attention when you’re out and about. The hands-free pump connects with the free “Pump with Elvie” app, which allows you to control your pump remotely while tracking your milk production. You can choose from ten intensity settings in both Stimulation and Expression modes for optimal comfort and efficiency.

“I’m really happy with my purchase and working with Krisi at Milk N Mamas Baby was great!” Rosina said.

It’s great to work with busy moms like Rosina, too!

Milk N Mamas Baby is owned and operated by women who have experienced the challenges and joys of balancing breastfeeding with work and family. We were lobbying for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it, and our women-lead team continues to advocate for mamas like Rosina and their babies every day, one mother at a time. We’re here for you, too! Get in touch today for help picking out the right breast pump for you.

mother and baby exercising on a beach

5 tips for losing baby fat in time for summer

Hint: Don’t diet. It won’t help with baby weight.

Let’s start this by saying that you shouldn’t feel compelled to lose one doggone pound if you’re not up for it. You just brought a whole other human being into the world. Don’t feel like you’ve got to impress anybody with a swimmer’s physique this year. However, if your baby weight is making you feel uncomfortable now, the heat of summer definitely won’t make it better. In that case, try these five tips for losing baby weight without losing your mind dieting.

1. Set reasonable expectations and goals for post-partum weight loss.

Start by talking with your doctor about reasonable expectations and goals. Your body is in recovery, so adding the stress of intense dieting and exercise will only slow your recovery. Be compassionate with yourself. Set modest, attainable goals and back it up with a plan that you’re likely to stick to.

2. Breastfeed and/or pump regularly.

If you want to give post-partum weight loss a boost, breastfeed and/or pump. The old saying “I’m eating for two” continues to hold true for as long as you choose to breastfeed your newborn. Your body uses the fat cells stored up during pregnancy as well as caloric intake from your daily meals to produce breastmilk. Studies show that women who breastfeed exclusively for six months lose post-partum weight more quickly. They’re also more likely to attain their original, pre-pregnancy weight than women who don’t breastfeed or who nursed their newborn for fewer than six months.

3. Eat five to six smaller meals with healthy ingredients.

Diets that call for fasting and caloric restrictions often cause your body to convert more energy into fat stores. From your body’s perspective, you must’ve fallen on hard times, so it’s going to try to conserve your energy the best way it knows how. Instead of skipping meals, eat smaller, healthier meals more frequently. This is especially important if you are nursing. The more nutrients and vitamins you consume in your diet, the healthier your newborn will be.

4. Get some light exercise daily.

Spring is in the air, so you’ve got a few good months of perfect walking weather. Put that newborn in a stroller and take them out to see the world. Getting fresh air and light exercise will increase the flow of oxygen through your body and help you digest food more effectively, which helps with weight loss. You’ll also get more of that happy hormone serotonin, which will boost your energy so you can get another walk in later in the day. Little jaunts out into the world are good for you and baby, and a daily walk or two can get you to your weight loss goals one step at a time.

5. Avoid sugars and processed foods.

While skipping meals is a no no for new moms, skipping sugars and processed foods is a big HECK YES. Sugary and processed foods and beverages are full of empty calories, and they wreak havoc on your blood sugar level, which plays a critical role in your body’s fat storage. In addition, the human body is naturally disposed to crave sugars, and sugars trigger hunger, which can create a vicious cycle when you’re trying to lose weight.

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Milk N Mamas baby is owned and operated by women who have experienced the challenges and joys of balancing breastfeeding with work and family. Our company’s history is rooted in activism on behalf of nursing moms, including lobbying for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it, and our women-lead team continues to advocate for mamas and babies every day, one mother at a time. To get the latest tips and news from our team, subscribe to our blog below.

 

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Give an Elvie Stride or other lightweight, wearable breast pump a try for times when you’re on vacation or headed to the office.

Should I reuse my old breast pump for my second baby?

Most breast pumps can be used for multiple pregnancies.

It can take some time to get used to a breast pump, and it’s not uncommon for moms to get attached to the one they’ve already got. Fortunately, most modern breast pumps are built to be durable, and they’re usually tough enough to be used for multiple pregnancies if you’re cleaning, maintaining, and storing them properly. The same goes for hard plastic pump accessories like bottles and breast shields that are still in good working order. However, you should replace all silicone and soft plastic parts as they’re more difficult to clean and sanitize.

Open system breast pumps are not suitable for long-term use.

Closed system pumps are designed to prevent breastmilk from seeping into the pump motor. In open system breast pump, there’s no barrier, which means moisture, condensation, and breast milk can get into the interior of the pump. Because these interior components can’t be easily accessed and sanitized, they have the potential to breed mold and bacteria. As such, it’s best not to reuse open system breast pumps.

Most insurance providers do cover a new breast pump for each new child.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most insurance plans are required to cover the cost of one new double electric breast pump for every pregnancy. However, policies may vary. Some provide new breast pumps each year or every other year. We can verify your insurance company’s breast pump policy easily if you’re not sure. Regardless, if you’ve paid for the insurance, you should definitely collect on the breast pump benefits. Even if you’re completely in love with your old reliable pump, there are good reasons to purchase a new one with your insurance credit.

Have a backup breast pump in case the old one quits performing.

Like all electronics, even the best breast pumps will deteriorate over time. That’s why most breast pump warranties only cover specific problems with the pump or the motor and only for one to two years after your purchase. If you love your pump, get a backup model for the day your old one begins to show signs of wear and tear.

Have a stay-at-home breast pump and a wearable breast pump for traveling.

You could also use your breast pump benefit to mix it up a little. Is your favorite pump the Medela Pump In Style that you use in the comfort of your own home? Give an Elvie Stride or other lightweight, wearable breast pump a try for times when you’re on vacation or headed to the office.

Order your new breast pump today!

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we have more than two decades of experience in the medical device supply industry, with specialization in breast pumps, pumping essentials, and breast pumping accessories. Our company’s history is rooted in activism on behalf of nursing moms, including lobbying for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it. We’re here to help you whether this is your first or your fifth baby. Give us a call for guidance on breast pump insurance coverage.

newborn biting during breastfeeding

Help! My newborn is biting during breastfeeding!

Why do babies bite while breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding can be one of the most relaxing and gratifying experiences a new mother has with her baby. When you’re breastfeeding, your brain releases the “cuddle chemical” oxytocin into your system and your baby’s system, making you both feel lovey dovey towards one another. As a result of that chemically-induced lovefest, you probably won’t ever see that first bite coming. After all, how could a sweet, toothless like cuddle bunny do any serious damage to a strong, grown woman.

However, it’s bound to happen at some time, and when it does, oh, mama! You feel it, and it can make you question whether that little whippersnapper really has your best interest at heart after all. Don’t worry. A bite from baby isn’t a sign they’re out to get you. They don’t even necessarily mean it’s time to wean. In some cases, baby is simply experimenting with its body and finding new ways to get your attention. However, there are other reasons baby might take up nipple biting during breastfeeding, including:

  • Teething,
  • Overactive or forceful letdown,
  • Slow letdown,
  • Colds or ear infections, or
  • Distraction or boredom.

Is your baby teething?

While some babies are born with their first teeth, most begin teething around at around six months old. This can lead to an urge to chomp down on things. Chewing and biting help to relieve the pain caused by swollen, tender gums. Other symptoms that baby is teething include:

  • Irritability,
  • Drooling,
  • Loss of appetite,
  • Rash on cheek and chin,
  • Raised temperature, and
  • Rubbing their face or tugging their ear.

Tips for helping teething babies

  • Talk to your doctor to see if a baby painkiller is in order to help alleviate your newborn’s pain.
  • Allow baby to chew on a cold, wet washcloth or cooled teething toy to soothe their gums.

Is your baby trying to control a forceful letdown?

During your first months of breastfeeding, your body is still learning how much breastmilk to make. In some cases, mothers overproduce breastmilk, which can overwhelm newborns who are, likewise, still learning the ropes of breastfeeding. Newborns may clamp down on the nipple in an attempt to control the rush of breastmilk. Other symptoms that you may have an overactive letdown include:

  • Gas,
  • Crying after breastfeeding sessions,
  • Frequent hiccups, and

Tip for helping babies cope with forceful letdown

Hand express or pump some milk before breastfeeding to curb the overactive letdown response.

Is your baby trying to encourage a more forceful letdown?

On the other hand, some mothers have a slower letdown response, which can be caused by mastitis, stress, illness, pain, medications, previous breast surgery, or any number of other factors. If your letdown is slow or inhibited, your newborn may chew to encourage a more forceful letdown. If your baby is struggling with a slow letdown response, they might show all of the same symptoms as a forceful letdown, but they may also have fewer soiled diapers.

Tip for helping babies cope with inhibited letdown

Supplement regular breastfeeding sessions with pumping sessions to help stimulate milk flow.

Does your baby have a cold or ear infection?

Breastfeeding requires babies to learn how to alternate between breathing, nursing, and swallowing. If baby’s nose is stuffy from a cold or ear infection, they’ll have a hard time managing these tasks. For reference, think about the last you tried to eat a hoagie with a stuffy nose. Not so easy, right? If your baby is suffering with a cold or ear infection, they’ll show signs other than biting your nipple, which may include:

  • Fever,
  • Refusing milk,
  • Runny nose,
  • Discharge from ears,
  • Cough,
  • Vomiting,
  • Diarrhea,
  • Irritability,
  • Face, chin, or upper chest rash.

Tip for helping babies with a cold or ear infection

  • Use a warm compress on your newborn’s ear to reduce ear infection pain.
  • Continue breastfeeding to ensure baby is hydrated and getting antibodies from your milk that may help alleviate illness.
  • If baby has a fever or symptoms do not go away within 48 hours, visit your doctor. Antibiotics may be necessary.

Is your baby bored?

Babies are curious little busybodies, and they get bored easily. They’re also just learning how much control they have over their environment and the people in it – that means you. Sometimes baby is biting to see what happens. Sometimes, they’re bored. If that’s the case, your newborn has probably had their fill of breastmilk, so it’s safe to gently detach them from the nipple by using your finger to break the suction.

Whatever the cause of your baby’s biting, avoid a dramatic response as it could encourage more of the same. Yelping with either frighten or intrigue babies, which could lead to worse biting. Laughing is a definite no no as babies love to make mommy happy, and as far as they know, biting is something you enjoy.

A biting baby doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to wean.

Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommend exclusive breastfeeding for up to six months, about the time that babies begin teething, followed by the introduction of foods or infant formula thereafter. The longer you feed your baby breastmilk, however, the greater the protection they receive from illnesses like ear infections as well as long-term diseases like asthma and diabetes.

Just because baby is biting doesn’t mean it’s time to wean them. It just means you’ve got to deal with any underlying causes and teach baby proper breastfeeding etiquette. The best way to do this, regardless of the cause of the biting, is to gently break baby’s latch and end the breastfeeding session when they begin to bite. If baby seems interested in continuing to nurse, you can try again after a few minutes; however, end feeding time each time baby bites in order to discourage the habit.

Some mothers have more sensitive nipples, and some babies are more aggressive biters. In those cases, you can still provide your newborn with the health benefits of breastmilk by pumping. Give us a call to learn about the wide variety of pumps available and which one might be right for you.

baby constantly crying after breastfeeding

Why does my baby constantly cry after breastfeeding time?

Am I breastfeeding wrong, is my baby colicky, or is it something else?

Some babies are mild-mannered and generally seem pleased with the world they find themselves in. Other babies, not so much. It’s not that they’re bad-tempered, but they do appear to have strong feelings about things. You’d think that a full belly would leave a newborn in a state of bliss, and many babies do pass out with a milk-drunk grin on their faces. However, some babies launch into crying jags as soon as they’ve finished breastfeeding. That leaves frustrated moms asking questions like:

  • Am I breastfeeding my newborn wrong?
  • Am I producing enough milk to satisfy my baby?
  • Is my baby colicky?

Or even:

  • Is this baby trying to drive me crazy?

It’s a reasonable suspicion. A crying baby can certainly put everyone in the house on edge, and over time, chronic criers can leave moms, dads, siblings, grandparents, and even neighbors feeling helpless.

So what’s behind all those tears? Pediatricians recognize a few specific reasons your newborn may be inclined to tears after breastfeeding:

  • Gas,
  • Acid Reflux, and
  • Food sensitivities and allergies.

We’ll look at each more closely below, but let’s begin with the more generic explanation for a chronic crier: colic.

Colic

To say that colic is causing a baby to cry isn’t very helpful to moms because colic is a catchall term that loosely translates to “chronic crying on the part of a newborn.” In other words, baby is crying all the time because baby’s a chronic crier. Not very useful, right?

However, there is a clue about your crying baby in the Latin root of the word: colon. In other words, if you have a colicky newborn, you have a baby who is probably suffering from pain in their abdomen. Let’s look at some of the reasons your newborn may be experiencing abdominal pain after breastfeeding.

Gas

We’ve all been there. Gas pain is not for sissies. You and I both have decades of experience with gas under our belt, so we know the feeling when it comes over us. It’s not so painful or scary because we’re used to it. Your poor baby is having their first experience of it, and it’s probably both painful and scary. Gas pain is more common among bottle-fed babies as they tend to swallow more air. However, even breastfed babies swallow some air during feeding time, so they still need a good burping after each feeding.

If you suspect gas might be the culprit, try this after baby’s next feeding:

  • Hold baby upright after feeding to burp.
  • Pat gently from the base of the back upward to work out gas bubbles.

Acid Reflux

This is another ailment that most adults have experienced but newborns have not. Imagine feeling acid reflux for the first time and not knowing what’s causing the pain. You’d be crying, too. You and I know that acid reflux is what happens when the contents of your stomach are pushed into your esophagus. To your baby, it just feels like they’ve swallowed fired.

Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as its more serious form is called, causes spitting up in addition to crying, and it’s not uncommon in babies younger than one-year old. In fact, according to the National Institute of Health, nearly 8 in 10 infants have daily acid reflux by the age of 2 months. However, by they time they’re 12 to 14 months old, most children have outgrown GERD symptoms.

If you suspect acid reflux might be causing baby serious or chronic pain, talk with baby’s pediatrician about the symptoms as GERD can have more serious side effects like:

  • Weight loss and
  • Esophagitis

GERD can also lead to complications beyond the esophagus, such as:

  • Coughing and wheezing,
  • Laryngitis, and

Food sensitivities and allergies

About one in 100 exclusively breastfed babies develop allergic reactions to food proteins in their mother’s milk, according to research conducted by The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine. The most frequent culprit is cow’s milk protein found in human breastmilk when mom has been indulging in dairy products. It’s important to note that this allergy occurs more frequently in infants consuming cow’s milk-based formula, which contains far more of the offending protein, than in breastmilk, where these proteins only show up in trace amounts. Occasionally, babies have allergies to eggs, nuts, peanuts, soy, or wheat as well. If an allergy is the cause of your baby’s suffering, they may also have signs of blood in their stool. In that case, head straight to the pediatrician.

If you suspect food allergies may be causing your baby pain and grief, let your doctor know and try these strategies for determining the guilty allergen:

  • Keep a food diary to determine if there may be a connection between your diet and baby’s crying.
  • If you find a food that seems connected, try an elimination diet (after talking with your doctor) to see if the change improves baby’s mood. Eliminate only one food at a time so you’ll know exactly which culprit is the offender.

How do I know if my newborn’s crying means they’re hungry?

Feeding a crying baby is often the go to for a tired, frustrated mom, but if one of the above issues is the problem, more breastmilk won’t help. So how do you know if baby’s crying because they’re hungry? Look for these additional signs:

  • Baby is moving fists to mouth or sucking on hand,
  • Baby is alert and active,
  • Baby is nuzzling or seeking your breast,
  • Baby is smacking lips or opening and closing mouth.

When baby is full, you’ll see these signs:

  • Baby releases your nipple,
  • Baby begins chewing on nipple or playing rather than feeding,
  • Baby relaxes, opening fists.

Share the joy (and frustration) of breastfeeding with a partner.

Whatever the cause of your newborn’s tears, a colicky baby can cause frustration, depression, and exhaustion – as if new moms aren’t tired enough. If you’ve got a baby who seems to cry all the time, don’t be afraid to ask for more help from your partner, family, or friends. Pumping breast milk gives the people who want to help you a chance to take over some of your baby’s feeding sessions, which will give you a chance to rest, and you’ll need it if your baby is a chronic crier.

Need help choosing a breast pump? Milk N Mamas baby is owned and operated by women who have experienced the joys and the challenges of breastfeeding, including colicky babies. We have more than two decades of experience in the medical device supply industry, and our company’s history is rooted in activism on behalf of nursing moms. We’re here to help in whatever way we can, from deciding on a breast pump that meets your needs to filing your claim. Call today to speak with one of our representatives.

New research shows mRNA COVID vaccines offer serious protection to breastfed babies.

Breaking news on breastfeeding and COVID resistance in babies

Though COVID-19 hasn’t taken the same toll on children as on adults, it is taking a toll, according to recent studies. In fact, one in four children who develop COVID have lingering problems, also known as “long COVID,” according to a systematic review of 80,071 children with COVID-19.

What does long COVID look like?

Because COVID-19 is a novel virus, scientists are still figuring out what the long-term results of contracting it might be. However, around 25% of children and adolescents with COVID develop symptoms that can last twelve weeks or longer. Subjects of the study frequently reported neuropsychiatric problems such as moodiness, fatigue, dizziness, and headaches; cardiorespiratory issues like congestion, exercise intolerance, coughing, and arrhythmia; skin-related conditions including excessive sweating, itching, and hair loss; and gastrointestinal problems like constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.

And that’s a small sampler of the potential ailments that kids with long COVID are reporting. The longer COVID lingers, the more scientists will know about all of the possible complications. However, for now, the study coauthor Sonia Villapol of Houston Methodist Research Institute in Texas says that it’s clear that “children and adolescents have also physical and mental health consequences derived from COVID-19.”

Which vaccines offer breastfeeding babies the greatest protection?

We’ve already discussed the value of getting vaccinated against COVID if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding in a couple of blog posts. Recent studies indicate that some vaccines are better than others at offering protection to newborns. If you want to pass the protective properties of your vaccine to your newborn via breast milk, a March 2022 study for the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends opting for the mRNA shots from Moderna or Pfizer.

In the JAMA study, breast milks samples were taken from 124 lactating women over a period of 100 days. The women had received either the mRNA vaccine or the vector-based vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson or AstraZeneca. Researchers measured the antibodies in milk samples and found more than 9 in 10 women who received the mRNA vaccines had detectable IgA antibodies, which play an important role in protecting breastfed babies from COVID. Of the women who took the vector-based vaccines, fewer than half had IgA antibodies in their milk. The researchers concluded that “an mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine is the optimal choice for lactating women when they want to transfer breast milk antibodies to their infants.”

Does my baby get the same protection if the breast milk is pumped?

Yes. While fresh breast milk is the best for babies, breast milk can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to four days, and it maintains most of its immune properties. Reheating breast milk in the microwave and freezing breast milk both diminish some of the health properties, but not all. Carefully reheated breast milk still offers more immune benefits than formula, even if it’s been in the freezer for up to six months.

You’re still the best protection your baby has.

I take this as good news for worried moms. There is something you can do to protect your baby from COVID and other respiratory illnesses – breastfeed! We’re here to help in whatever way we can, whether that’s providing medical resources to help you make sound decisions or providing support when you’re beginning your breastfeeding journey. Need help finding a breast pump? We’re here for that, too. Give us a call or email today.

mom calling insurance company about breast pump reimbursement

How to get a breast pump reimbursement from your insurance company

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurance providers must cover breast pumps. While this is certainly a better deal than moms once had, it’s still not always ideal. Not all policies provide the same coverage, and different policies may have different guidelines on the types of breast pump covered. In some cases, the insurance company pays outright, whereas in other cases, they reimburse you after you make the purchase. With so many factors in play, figuring out your provider’s specific benefits and processes can be confusing and frustrating.

What does the Affordable Care Act entitle mothers to in terms of breastfeeding?

Moms are eligible to receive breastfeeding equipment, supplies, and even lactation support under the ACA. Exactly what breastfeeding equipment is covered depends on your doctor’s recommendation, but in general, it includes a double-electric breast pump per birth experience, pump parts, and breast milk storage supplies, like bottles and bags.

Here’s where breast pump coverage gets confusing.

While ACA guidelines are pretty clear, there’s some room for interpretation, and many insurance companies take advantage of this. They might require a prescription from your doctor before the purchase or require you to submit a receipt afterwards for reimbursement. They may require you to purchase your breast pump from an in-network durable medical equipment (DME) supplier or only purchase a particular brand or model. In some cases, they may make you wait until after delivery to purchase your pump, and some providers don’t have to cover your pump at all if the plans were written before the law was passed.

What’s a mom to do if her breast pump coverage is confusing her?

Unfortunately, if you’re not sure about your plan’s requirements, guidelines, and coverages, you’ll have to call to confirm. Unless you’re purchasing through Milk N Mamas Baby. Not only are we a DME supplier, we’re in-network partners with a variety of other insurance companies, including Tricare, BlueCross BlueShield, UPMC Health Plan, and Health Partners Plans, to name a few. We’re also happy to advocate for you. We can call your insurance provider to confirm your coverage, so you have one less thing to do.

What if the pump you want isn’t covered by your plan?

While standard double-electric pumps like the Spectra S2 are commonly covered, so-called premium pumps, like the Elvie Pump, may not be fully covered. However, your insurance provider may reimburse you up to the amount your plan does cover. If you have a flexible spending account (FSA), a health savings account (HSA), or a health reimbursement account (HRA), you may be able to use that to cover a premium pump.

Submitting your claim for breast pump coverage and reimbursement

Once you’ve gotten your prescription and decided on your pump, it’s a matter of filing your claim promptly and submitting your receipt. Once again, Milk N Mamas Baby customers can leave this step to us. We’ll submit your prescription, claim, and necessary receipts to your insurance company, so you don’t have to.

If you’re an expectant mom with enough on your plate already, leave the insurance part of your breast pump buying experience to us. We’ll confirm your coverage, get your prescription, and even file your insurance claim to save you valuable time.

breast pump with tubing

What’s the difference between open and closed system breast pumps?

The first breast pumps were pretty simple devices to help mothers who were having trouble nursing for one reason or another. These early pumps looked radically different from our high-tech versions, but there’s one thing that most pumps have in common. Whether you’re looking at a 19th century manual pump or a 21st century double electric pump, you’ll find tubes on most models.

What does pump tubing have to do with open and closed systems?

At first glance, you might assume that milk travels through these tubes. However, tubing actually connects the breast pump motor with the pump’s connector and breast shield, and it plays a critical role in producing suction. If there’s a puncture or tear in the pump, it can affect suction. If moisture infiltrates tubing, it can quickly become moldy. That mold can potentially create a health hazard for your newborn if it comes in contact with breast milk.

Open system pumps create opportunity for overflow and contamination.

You may have seen the terms “open system” and “closed system” breast pumps in your search for the perfect pump. An open system breast pump doesn’t provide a barrier, or media separation, between the breast pump and your milk. There is a small chance of overflow in an open system pump and an even smaller chance that the milk can become contaminated as a result.

Closed system pumps reduce the risk of contaminated tubing.

A closed system pump provides media separation that prevents milk from overflowing into the pump mechanism. By ensuring your milk travels through the pump by the most hygienic passage, a closed system pump reduces the risk of contamination.

How do I know if my tubing needs to be cleaned?

Even closed system pumps must allow some air passage in order for the suction to work, so a completely closed system pump doesn’t exist. While milk is less likely to pass into the tubing, natural condensation can still cause moisture buildup. That means you’ve got to check the tubing of a closed system pump just like you would an open system pump. If you see water droplets building up in the tubing, you can disconnect the tubing from the pump kit and run the pump for a few minutes to encourage the tubing to dry.

Do I ever need to replace the tubing of a closed system breast pump?

Yes. If your tubing has mold or milk in it, the CDC says throw it away immediately and replace it with new tubing. Often, this may also indicate that the valves or membranes need to be replaced, too. It may also mean that the tubing has become compromised, creating an opportunity for milk infiltration. You may also need to replace tubing if you notice suction has become impaired. A loose or frayed tube takes a toll on breast pump performance.

Open or closed system is only one feature to consider when purchasing a breast pump.

At Milk N Mamas Baby, we’ve got breast pumps with dozens of features and benefits that make breast milk expression easier. We’ve got hands-free pumps for moms who want to pump discreetly at work, and we’ve got pumps without any tubing at all. If you need help choosing the best pump for you, give us a call or email us. We’re happy to provide guidance and support as you make your decision.

Elvie Stride Double Electric Breast Pump

How breast pumps revolutionized breastfeeding

When was the first breast pump patented?

For most of human history, breastfeeding was the only way to nourish a new baby. Even breast pumps are older than you might think. The first pump was patented in 1854, and it was generally used as an aid for mothers with inverted nipples or for infants who were too frail for breastfeeding. It wasn’t comfortable, but it was a lifesaver for families who needed it.

Do all moms pump?

According to the 2005–2007 Infant Feeding Practices Study II (IFPS II), nearly 9 in 10 breastfeeding mothers had successfully expressed milk at some point during the baby’s first year. Many of those moms used a breast pump regularly. In some cases, they fed their infants exclusively pumped milk.

How are today’s breast pumps different?

Breast pumps have improved steadily over the years, becoming more comfortable as they became more commonplace. Today, pumps come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and suctions. While hospital strength double electric breast pumps are still better used at home, many new pumps are silent, discreet, and portable. Women can even pump in their nursing bras without cords or bags to draw attention.

What are the benefits of breast pumps?

Breast pumps aren’t always necessary, but they offer a lot of benefits. If you’re a military mom or a mom who has to return to work early, a breast pump makes sure your baby doesn’t miss out on all of the nutrients only found in breast milk. If you experience frequent engorgement, pumping offers relief. On the flip side, regular pumping can help to keep your milk supply up if you’re worried about your production. It’s also great to have on hand if you have to give up breastfeeding suddenly and need to slowly back down your supply.

Are there other revolutions in the history of pumping?

Definitely. Our company’s history is rooted in revolutionary ideas where pumping is concerned. Our founder Krisi LaMont lobbied on behalf of nursing moms for insurance to cover breastfeeding equipment before the ACA required it. Our women-lead team continues to advocate for mamas and babies every day, one mother at a time.

What are the most revolutionary breast pumps?

In terms of space age technology, the Elvie Stride probably wins out. You can pump directly into your bra using an app on your phone. However, pumps like the Spectra S1 are truly revolutionary in their ability to help mothers who may require hospital strength suction. The most revolutionary pump for any mom, though, is the one she feels comfortable with. Need help finding your breast pump? We’re here for you. Give us a call or email today.