Breast feeding is the best thing mothers can do for their babies at the beginning of life. However, many mothers cannot breast feed for long as they must return to work to support their families. Let’s provide all mothers with breast feeding education, lactation support and equipment so that our kids will be healthy.
There is a wide body of research that indicates that breast feeding alone can reduce a child’s risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, allergies, dental cavities and sudden infant death syndrome. It also helps form a strong bond between mother and child. In fact, breast feeding is so important that in 2011 the United States Surgeon General released, “The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding.” Many mothers, despite all this evidence and support, do not receive the services they need to be successful at breastfeeding.
The Affordable Care Act explicitly states that health care plans are required to cover breastfeeding support and supplies; however, this law does not cover patients with Medicaid insurance. The coverage of these services by Medicaid varies widely from state to state. Therefore, a large portion of Medicaid mothers do not receive adequate breast feeding education, lactation support and equipment they need in order to continue breast feeding once they return to work. As a result, many of children do not benefit from breast feeding for a full year as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In order to remedy this situation, contact your state representative and request that Medicaid coverage include prenatal breast feeding classes, inpatient and outpatient lactation support and electric breast pumps for mother’s returning to work. Overall, this small investment in our children will lead to a healthier community.
Christine Cortelyou, MD