Oxytocin in Childbirth: A Labor of Love

Last week, we talked about the role of endorphins in natural childbirth and today we turn our focus to oxytocin, another crucial hormone in the symphony of chemicals created naturally in the body to help mom and baby through childbirth.

There are four major hormonal systems active during labor: endorphins, oxytocin, adrenaline and noradrenaline, and prolactin.

What is oxytocin?

pregnancy oxytocin

Oxytocin, known as the “love hormone,” is a hormone and neuropeptide that causes both physiological and behavioral effects when produced in the body.  It is produced in the hypothalamus of the brain and is released into the bloodstream via the pituitary gland.

Our bodies produce oxytocin when we are attracted to a mate, during lovemaking (it assists with arousal, fosters bonding and may facilitate sperm and egg transport), following positive social interactions (it can even potentially improve wound healing following such positive interactions, say experts), and with other positive experiences.  It is thought to enhance our capacity to love ourselves and others.

Oxytocin is produced in pregnancy, levels increase significantly during active labor and childbirth, and both mom and baby produce oxytocin after birth and as long as baby breastfeeds.

Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, trust, empathy, calmness and security and reduces anxiety and fear. Under certain circumstances, oxytocin can hinder the release of cortisol, or stress hormones.

What are the functions and roles of oxytocin in childbirth?

Oxytocin plays a major role in the following:

  • Uterine contractions that help facilitate dilation in labor
  • Facilitating the milk let-down reflex
  • Fostering the mother-baby bond
  • Encouraging maternal behavior in the first hour after birth
  • Released during breastfeeding, oxytocin causes mild uterine contractions after birth to expel the placenta and close of many blood vessels to prevent bleeding
  • Assisting the uterus in clotting the placental attachment point postpartum

What helps to facilitate the production of oxytocin naturally during labor?

Unhindered production of oxytocin is important in labor because oxytocin is responsible in large part for uterine contractions.  Oxytocin initiates labor and helps it keep going strong.

Because the production of oxytocin is so connected to our emotions, it is paramount that a laboring mama feel calm, secure, and uninhibited in her environment and that she trust those around her.  A dim room without too much excitement or distraction is an environment conducive to the unhindered production of oxytocin.

happy birth

Natural ways to stimulate oxytocin production in labor include:

  • Caring, non-medical touch
  • Nipple stimulation (this can be helpful in getting labor started in some cases, or to increase strength and frequency of contractions)
  • Laughter and humor
  • Kissing (Ina May, a famous midwife, touts “smooching” as a great way to keep labor going)
  • Gentle exercise, dancing and rhythmic movement
  • Feeling grateful and loving (a partner’s words and actions can be so instrumental in helping mama create oxytocin and so help her labor along)
  • The repetitive use of mantras, prayer or sounds
  • Meditation, positive visualization and hypnosis
  • Relaxation
  • Warm bath

What can diminish oxytocin levels in labor?

Again, because of the emotional connection, any experience of fear, anxiety, stress, tension, discomfort, or distrust can negatively effect oxytocin production during labor.  A feeling of being watched can also hinder oxytocin release.  The use of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin)—which also stimulates contractions and is used to induce labor—can also slow the body’s own production of oxytocin.

Oxytocin in Breastfeeding

oxytocin breastfeedingOxytocin, also called the cuddle hormone, is released by both mama and baby during breastfeeding.  It can cause slight sleepiness, mild euphoria, a higher pain threshold, and increased love for one another.  It also helps build the attraction and strengthen the bond between mama and baby.

As you can see, oxytocin is an amazing gift and tool our bodies make to help us through childbirth and postpartum.

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Storing Human Breast Milk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile our breasts may know exactly how to create the perfect food for our babes, they don’t come with an instruction manual for how to store and keep this amazing liquid in the event that we wish or need to express milk for our babies.  Expressing milk for the times when we cannot be with our babies is a great way to ensure they receive the myriad benefits of breast milk (e.g. optimum nutrition and protection against diseases).

While there are varying recommendations on how to store breast milk, this information is the product of a careful review of the best evidence available and is an appropriate guideline for storing milk to be consumed by healthy, full-term babies.

Keep it Clean

Human milk is a fresh living substance, so it’s important to be contentious of hygiene when handling breast milk.  Before hand expressing or pumping milk, it’s important to make sure your hands are washed and clean and all equipment used to gather the milk are clean and sterile.  Breast pumps have instruction manuals and how-to videos are available on the internet to acquaint you with how to clean and care for your breast pump.

One of the many amazing things about breast milk is that is actually contains properties that help safely preserve it outside of the body.  Its anti-bacterial properties—live cells and antibodies—help it stay fresh longer by discouraging bacterial growth when stored in a container.  (The same cells discourage bacterial growth in your baby’s intestines.)

Best Containers

glass bottles

The best containers for human milk storage are made of glass or hard BPA-free plastic (food-grade polypropylene or polybutylene) with properly fitted tops or lids.  Such containers should be washed with hot soapy water, rinsed thoroughly, and allowed to air dry before being used.  Some containers can also be washed in the top rack of the dishwasher.

If you plan to freeze in such containers, leave at least an inch of space at the top of the bottle since milk (and other liquids) expand upon freezing.

Polyethylene bags (bottle liners) do not preserve the nutrients and immune properties of milk as well as glass or hard plastic.  Using plastic bags expressly made to store breast milk can mitigate these effects to some degree.

Some of the downsides to using bags include:

  • Higher risk of contamination
  • less durability
  • risk of leakage
  • some bags destroy nutrients in milk

If you use plastic milk storage bags, make sure you:

  • squeeze the air out of the top before sealing
  • leave at least an inch at the top for milk expansion when frozen
  • stand the bags upright in another container
  • store this container toward the back of the refrigerator or freezer where the temperature is most consistent

Whatever you use, make sure the container is well sealed.  You may want to place baking soda in the frig to eliminate odors from other foods.

How much milk to store

Regardless of what container you use, it can be a good idea to only store 1 to 4 ounces of milk in each container.  This is the amount you are likely to need to provide a single serving to your baby.  This avoids waste and makes thawing easier.

Label your milk

Be sure to label your milk with the date it was expressed.  If you know where it is going (i.e. frig, freezer) you may also want to put a “use by” date on it, according to the guidelines below.  If your baby will be drinking the milk in a day care setting, also label the milk with your baby’s name.  You should use the oldest milk in your supply first, provided that it is still good according to your observation and the guidelines below.

Where to store milk and for how long

You can store milk at room temperature, in the refrigerator (does not need to be kept separate from other foods), in a freezer, or in a deep freezer.  It is best not to store milk in a frig or freezer door or near an ice dispenser, and is best kept toward the back of the frig or freezer where the temps are more consistent.  It is best to refrigerate or chill milk after its been expressed.  When possible, refrigerated milk is preferred over frozen milk because some of the anti-infective properties of milk are lost when it is frozen.  That said, frozen milk is still preferable to formula, as the former still has disease protective agents, other benefits and lacks some drawbacks associated with formula.

Where

Temperature

Time

Room temperature

66-79° F

Ideal: 4 hoursAcceptable: 6 hours

Some sources say: 8 hours

Refrigerator

Under 39° F

Ideal: 3 days (72 hrs.)Acceptable: 8 days if collected in a very clean and careful way

Freezer

-0.4 to -4° F

Ideal: 6 monthsAcceptable: 12 month

Specific considerations:

  • Freezer to frig: Previously frozen milk that has been thawed can keep in the frig for 24 hours.
  • Refreezing thawed milk:  while some sources say that you can refreeze previously thawed milk within a few hours, this causes a further breakdown in the milk and a loss of antimicrobial activity.  It is not currently considered an ideal practice.
  • Leftovers?  While there has not been conclusive research on this practice, some sources say that is it probably safe to refrigerate leftover milk for 1-2 hours and offer it again within that time.  (Say, if baby doesn’t finish the bottle in one sitting.)
  • Keeping it cool: if you don’t have immediate access to a frig, it is best to store the milk in an insulated cooler with ice packs until you are able to refrigerate or freeze it (24 hours or less).
  • Separation: Human milk naturally separates into a cream layer and a milk layer when stored; this is totally okay.  Just gently swirl before serving!
  • Slow defrost: Human milk should be thawed and gradually reheated, since high temperatures destroy important properties in the milk.
  • Frozen to drinkable: The ideal way to prepare frozen milk for consumption is to place it in the frig overnight (for a total of 24 hours maximum) or thaw under cool running water (you can gradually increase the temperature).  Milk should never be microwaved (it not only kills nutrients but it can cause hot spots milk that can burn baby).  Milk should also not be heated directly in a pan, though you can gently heat water in a pan and place the container of milk inside (no boiling water).
  • Temperature:  Though breast milk is naturally body temperature, many babies are fine with room temperature or even slightly cooler milk.  For some babies, it is more important that the nipple not be cold.  (So you may want to store with a lid and add the room temperature nipple before serving.)
  • Frig to drinkable: warm the milk under warm running water if desired.  Some babies will accept milk right from the frig.
  • Soapy smell: some breast milk that has been stored smells soapy or may even taste soapy.  This is believed to be the result of excess lipase (an enzyme) activity in the milk, which begins to break down the milk fat after its been expressed (Lipase has many beneficial properties).  While this milk is safe to drink and some babies don’t mind it, some moms and babies are off-put by this change in taste and smell.  If milk becomes sour or rancid tasting/smelling it may no longer be safe.  If excess lipase activity is a problem, you can scald your milk after expressing to deactivate the enzyme.  After expressing, heat the milk directly in a pan so that it bubbles around the edges of the pan but does not boil.  Remove from heat, quickly cool, and store the milk (in the frig or freezer).

Interview: Welcome Baby Care’s Carey Lindeman

wbcWe had the pleasure of speaking with Carey Lindeman, founder of Welcome Baby Care to discuss postpartum care and her pioneering postpartum doula service in the Twin Cities.  Many people don’t know what a postpartum doula is or how they can help.  Hopefully, this interview will shed some light on this invaluable and unique type of postpartum support and what amazing doulas, like those at Welcome Baby Care, can offer.

What is a postpartum doula?

While a lot of people have heard what a birth doula is, not everyone has heard of or understands what a postpartum doula is.  Essentially, what a postpartum doula does is come into a family’s home after the birth. Our first priority is taking care of the mother and making sure that she is healing properly and bonding with her baby.  So our goal is to relieve her of the things that would normally be overwhelming her.  Whether that be laundry, changing the sheets, keeping the bathroom clean, cooking, maybe running errands.

So there is that piece and there is also the education piece where we educate on taking care of baby—you know, best practices, what’s normal, what’s not, as well as what is normal and what is not in her own recovery.  So a lot of the questions she may call the doctor about or wonder about, we are able to help with and so help her with the transition into a more confident parent and navigating all of the unknowns.

Having this support can speed up the process of becoming a more confident parent and bonding with your family, staying connected with your husband, all those things you are negotiating during this tremendous transition.

What does a typical doula visit look like? 

ppdoula

It could be two different things depending on whether it’s a day shift or an overnight shift.  A daytime shift is usually a minimum of 4 hours.  When the doula arrives at a family’s home she is going to assess what is going on—she may walk into a sink full of dishes,

piles of unfolded laundry, or mom may need some hands on help with the baby or with breastfeeding).  She is not going to ask, “what can I do” but instead will assess and do what needs to be done.  She may ask things like “Have you had anything to eat today?” to mom.  Usually what a doula will do is prepare snacks for the day for when mom is feeding, she’ll prepare food for later, she’ll clean up, and essentially her goal is to create a very stress-free environment.

And, you know many times a doula is walking into chaos, there may be multiples or other challenging situations.  A doula’s role is to put a “calm” on the situation.

She may be managing other people as well—maybe there are grandmas involved or aunts, cousins—she may have to say to them “This is where you can be most helpful right now.”

 What about if there are older children there, how does that look with a postpartum doula? 

With other children, what a doula will do is find a way to entertain and manage them while mom needs to be breastfeeding or napping or whatever she needs.  But she also finds ways to incorporate the family together.  So it isn’t just a separation of mom from partner and other children.  Sometimes, for example, the doula will make a snack and ask dad or an older child to take it to mom and sit with her.  We are always trying to foster family bonding.

Great, and what about that overnight postpartum doula service you mentioned?

Yes, going back to our overnight care, this looks a little different.  This is a separate service and definitely our most popular.  A typical overnight shift will begin at about 9 or 10 at night. Mom and partner are off to bed immediately and we take over from there.  We are with the baby.  Mom may choose to pump and have us feed the baby or maybe she wants to breastfeed.  In that case, we would console baby for as long as possible, then bring the baby into her, she can breastfeed, and then we will change the baby and put him or her back to bed.  So we are with the baby all night long while the parents sleep.  The doula will stay as long as the family wants them in the morning but a typical shift ends about 6 am or so.  A lot of times we leave when everyone is sleeping.  And mom can get up with baby whenever that is.

What does service typically look like for a new or growing family—how often do people need care, is it different for everybody? 

You know it is different for each family, depending on if there are multiples or not, if it is a first child, etc.  We do have packages offered on our website that give some examples.  And I would say that most people buy one of our packages.  Probably in the next few weeks people will be able to purchase these right from the website (as well as our classes).

twins

What does the training look like for a postpartum doula? 

We have our own postpartum doula training and certification program.  We have an excellent trainer formerly from Fairview and she has developed a certification program.  We felt that a lot of postpartum doulas coming to us as DONA-trained doulas (birth doulas with a piece of postpartum education) had great training but that it didn’t go far enough.  We wanted more extensive training.  So we developed our own specific postpartum training program.

People can go through it and not necessarily work for us, though there is always the option to interview with us, while other people will work independently or just want to learn this information for their own benefit.  We give people a max of 6 months to go through the program and there are 4 components: reading, classroom training, shadowing a doula, and pro bono work for moms in the community that need help.  The details of the classroom training content can be found on our website.

How did Welcome Baby Care come to be? 

One of the unique things about our service is that we also do senior care—so we are kind of a full spectrum in-home care provider.   How Welcome Baby Care started was with this senior business.  When my stepdaughter was having her first baby—and I have raised four children myself—I was there as a grandmother I thought, “I’m really rusty—I don’t really have all the answers to help out.” So what occurred to me at that time was, just like seniors, new moms need support, everybody needs a doula.  And its just one of those things, you know it’s the same type of care, the difference is the type of caregiver.  But it is still that turbulent time in people’s lives where they don’t know what they are getting into.  It’s so new.

So that is when we decided to have these two ends of the care spectrum (we split these into two sister companies).  And that’s how it came about.  Then I discovered that a doula with her expertise, the sixth sense they have…those were the kind of people that I wanted to do this care.  They are just so loving and caring and have such a heart.

Can you tell me more about the doulas you work with? 

The doulas are hand picked and multi-talented.  They all have their own gifts; they are all different in so many ways.  They are all doulas but they all have special additional gifts that they can offer.  So when we are interviewing with families, what’s great is that we have this whole team to pick from, not just one person.  So we can really assess what the family needs and hand pick the doula or doulas that are going to be the best fit.

Another great thing about having a doula team—and all of our doulas are our employees, none of them are contract—is that we have ongoing monthly training. So we may have speakers come in, and there is always a discussion session.  If there is ever something with a family that they maybe have a question or concern about, it’s all confidential, but they also have this team to talk with and get support from.  So they are not trying to figure things out all on their own.  And what’s really important is this ongoing training component.

When they go into a home, we always want that continuity of care.  So when you hire our doulas, you are not going to get someone different every time.  You are going to get the doula or two that are the best fit for you (# of doulas per family depends on # of hours needed).

What other services does Welcome Baby Care offer?

Through in-home care, lactation support, and classes, we offer:

  • Information for bonding techniques for new families (including adoption)
  • Breastfeeding support and counseling
  • Special care for preemies and multiples
  • Expertise in postpartum depression
  • Overnight care
  • Household care
  • Bedrest support
  • In-Home infant CPR

As far as our classes go, we offer a gamut of breastfeeding classes.  We have Breastfeeding 101, which is “the basics”.  The 201 class is not just breastfeeding or bottle feeding but also weaning, starting solids, and those types of things.

We also have a Grandmothers class, which is really popular.  This is where the expectant mom and her mother and/or mother-in-law come to class together.  And they talk about the differences between when grandma had the babies versus now.  A lot of new things that are happening, such as back to sleep and feeding and equipment, and all those things that may be new that grandma may not know about.

Kind of breaking down the barrier of her knowing what is important, and what mom feels is important, because often grandmas play a large role in raising the new child.  So with the help of this class, they are not going into it with preconceived ideas, barriers, and walls and not really discussing it.  And it’s learning on both ends—both the new mom and the grandma.  It’s a combination of education and facilitating communication between the generations.

gma

What if you are not sure during pregnancy whether you want or need a postpartum doula? 

I would suggest pursuing it.  We are here to answer all questions without any strings attached.  And maybe its not even postpartum services she may have questions about.  We also have a separate lactation service so maybe if she is feeling uncomfortable about breastfeeding and has questions, you know she can ask without being locked into in-home services.

I think that it’s worth attending one of our classes. We help provide a postpartum plan.  You know a lot of people make a birth plan, but not always a postpartum plan.  And we help you develop a plan, which covers things you should be aware of postpartum.

And again, consider calling and asking questions or even interviewing someone just in case, because again no strings attached ever.  People don’t always realize the importance of having that care.  You know, in other countries, people have their families and they have people helping them and we just don’t have that in this country.  The lesson is from second world nations that really know how important extended family care is.

What if you are sitting at home one week postpartum and you realize you need some help.  Is it too late to call a doula? 

It’s never too late.  We answer our phone 24/7.  I get calls during the night.  Calls come in when people are in the hospital or are feeling like they need to go back to the hospital.  You know, I got a call from a mom recently, I couldn’t even understand her.  She was so tired and so overwhelmed—it was four in the morning—and I was trying to get information and finally I just asked: “Do you need help right now?”  She asked if we could call her back in the morning at nine.  So we called her back and she was so overwhelmed.  But we were able to help her.

So anytime, we are available for new moms.  We want you to call us.

What advice might you have for pregnant mamas?

No expectations.  I mean, plan, but have an open plan for how the postpartum is going to look.  I think one of the most damaging things about our social world and the media is they put such high expectations on new moms and I think that is a mistake.  To buy into that and listen to too many people ahead of time and have all these expectations and lofty goals is a mistake.

You know, take things a day at a time and realize that, more than anything, you just want to have time for that baby, and give them everything they need.  But don’t have this idea of what its going to look like—like you’re going to lose weight, you’re going to look like this, you are going to have all the perfect equipment and clothes, and everything is going to look perfect and composed, and then buying into what all your friends are saying.

You know make sure you know who your support people are: get the support.  But don’t surround yourself with people who tell you how you need to be—just get that loving non-judgmental support.  And know, too, that we come in with NO judgments—mom can decide and parent the way she feels is right.  You know, we will guide and support but we will not judge.  That’s the biggest thing—you do not want judgment around you because it is just toxic.

What advice do you have for new mamas, who are maybe going through the postpartum period right now?

For them, I would say, the same information applies.  You need the support of other people.  Do not isolate.  Get the support.  Find those people that don’t have expectations for you.  Because you are the parent and you know your baby better than anybody and you need to be the one to make decisions.  You know, 10 or 20 years from now, it is going to be your decisions that matter, not anyone else’s.  So I think you need to really look at your own “mama guts” because you know.  And don’t think you don’t know because you DO know what is best.

And also, there are so many good resources out there, so take advantage of these great resources.

And plenty of rest and relaxation, and try not to put too many expectations on yourself.

You can contact Welcome Baby Care on their website or by calling 952-942-5676. 

 

Breastfeeding class this month

breastfeedingbabe1Breastfeeding 101: “So that’s what they’re for!”

If you are pregnant or recently gave birth, consider signing up for this fantastic course filled with important information about breastfeeding your babe(s).  The class, put on by postpartum service provider Welcome Baby Care, will be held at Health Foundations on August 26 from 6 to 8:30pm. Please join us!

Details:

This breastfeeding class for new and expectant parents covers everything you need to know to get off to a great start with your breastfed baby. Taught by trained lactation counselors, and covering the first month after the birth. We provide evidence based information on:

– the benefits of breastfeeding
– milk production
– milk supply
– best latch techniques
– how to know baby is getting enough
– common stumbling blocks and how to overcome them
– pumping and storage
– and much much more!

Offering only the most up to date and evidence based information, you will leave this class fully informed and confident in your body’s ability to feed your baby!

Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, please call us at (952) 942-5676 or visit us at http://welcomebabycare.com.

You can sign up at https://welcomebabycarebreastfeeding101.eventbrite.com/

Recipe: Lactation Cookies

This yummy oatmeal cookie recipe is one of the many ways for breastfeeding/pumping mamas to maintain their milk supply!

Lactation Cookies
Recipe by MilkinMamas

2 Tablespoons flax seed meal

4 Tablespoons water

1 cup butter, soften to room temperature

1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour (all-purpose or white whole wheat)

3-4 Tablespoons brewer’s yeast

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

3 cups rolled oats

1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flax seed meal and water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl or stand-up mixer, beat butter and brown sugar well.
  4. Add eggs and beat well.
  5. Add flax seed mixture and vanilla, beat well.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, brewer’s yeast, baking soda & salt.
  7. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, mix well.
  8. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
  9. Scoop by rounded tablespoons onto baking tray.
  10. Bake 12 minutes.
  11. Cool on baking tray for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Be creative and try these variations or additions:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • flaked or shredded coconut
  • dried cranberries, cherries, apricots or raisins
  • white chocolate chips

Insurance Coverage for Breastfeeding Support: Pumps and Lactation Services

Breastfeeding_a_baby

The Good News:

Under the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010, insurance companies are now required to cover the costs associated with breastfeeding, such as breastfeeding pumps and lactation services, without a copayment or co-insurance to meet your deductible so long as the services are “in-network.”*

The Bad News:

The language of the act is a bit vague and so insurance companies are setting their own specific policies about what is covered and how to go about procuring the breastfeeding support services and supplies you need.

This has created much confusion about the law and what it means to mamas.  We are here to help you understand your rights and advocate for the benefits to which you are entitled by law.

Call your Insurance Company First

Contacting your insurance provider is the first step in understanding what breastfeeding-related coverage and benefits you are eligible for.  Generally speaking, lactation consultants typically fall under preventative care, while breast pumps are considered medical supplies.

We’ve seen mamas get lots of different answers from their insurance providers about what is covered.  Some will cover hospital-grade pumps, while others only cover hand pumps.  Some have specific brands of pumps they will cover, and many require that you purchase such pumps at specific medical supply locations. This is due to their “in-network” requirements.

It’s best to call your insurance company before your baby is born (but, of course, its not too late once they’ve arrived).  Your insurance card should have the company’s toll-free member services number on the back.

Questions to Ask about Breast Pumps:

  • What type of pump can I get? (hospital-grade rental pump, double or single electric personal-use, battery or manual pump)
  • Do I have brand options?
  • Do I have to get the “recommended” pump or can I choose to purchase one (aka “out-of-network”) and submit the receipt for reimbursement?
    • If yes, what amount will I be reimbursed? Is there a dollar limit on coverage for breast pumps?
    • If I have already obtained a breast pump, can I submit a claim for reimbursement?
    • Do I have to get the breast pump approved first?
    • When can I get my breast pump? Before giving birth? After the birth of my child(ren)?
    • Where can I get my breast pump? Does it have to be from a designated place (aka “in-network” provider) or can I choose where to get it?
    • Do I have a rental pump option? Do I need a prescription for proof of medical necessity?

 Questions to Ask About Lactation Consultations:

  • Is there a limit on the number of visits with a lactation consultant?
  • Do I have to get the lactation visits approved first?
  • Where can I receive lactation counseling services? Are there approved in-network providers? Can I get reimbursed if I use a lactation counselor out-of-network?

Medela has great tips on talking to your insurance provider, especially if you encounter difficulty getting the coverage provided by law.

Contact the Medical Supply Providers or Lactation Consultant

Once you have obtained a list of “in-network” providers, it’s a good idea to contact the medical supply providers your insurance company gave you.  Ask them about what types and brands of breast pumps they carry and if there are any specific requirements related to obtaining your desired pump as covered by insurance.  For example, some medical suppliers will not allow you to obtain a pump prior to birth.  Some will let you pick up the pump, while others will deliver it to your home.

Same goes for lactation consultants—be sure to call the ones your provider gave you to get details about the services they offer.

Breast Pumps and Minnesota Care

If you are receiving Minnesota Care you may also be eligible for coverage.  The same recommendations apply: call your insurance company first and then call the medical supply providers.  (You may also have to contact your Minnesota Care caseworker.)  Make sure the medical supply provider is aware that you are covered under Minnesota Care, as this can affect the type of pump you are eligible to receive.

Getting Help Getting Covered

If your insurance representative doesn’t give you the answer you’re looking for, ask to speak to a supervisor. If that doesn’t work, tell them your going to file a request for assistance with the Department of Insurance.  Often, this is enough to prompt action.  If not, the Department of Insurance can be of assistance.  They can be reached with questions at 1-800-657-3602 or 651-296-2488.  Select the Insurance option (choice #1) on message menu to speak with an insurance investigator who can assist you.

Wishing you a smooth and easy experience obtaining the breastfeeding support services and equipment you need!

*Note: This federal law covers private and commercial insurance carriers but does not cover Medicaid or WIC.