Parents don’t intend to have difficulty feeding their babies. We’re here if they do.
Sarah Kellogg Neff
CEO, The Lactation Network
“There is often a gap between what working parents expect to experience when breastfeeding and what they actually experience.”
Every day across the country, streamers, cakes, gift cards, and parental leave OOO plans make their way around workplaces. “Congrats on your new addition!” e-cards read. Working parents are wished well, sent off, and assumed to be swaddled in newborn bliss until their return.
But at The Lactation Network, we’re familiar with a reality more visceral and common than many employers know. We see sleep-deprived mothers unnerved by the gap between the rosy anticipation of breastfeeding and its unforeseen difficulty in practice; working parents weaning their children early without the means to pump in their offices; and defeated, helpless partners of all kinds juggling calls to pediatricians and in-laws for advice.
Breastfeeding difficulties aren’t minor, unexpected occurrences. Parents feel failure when they struggle to help their babies latch, and deal with low breastmilk supply and cracked, bleeding nipples. On top of these all-too-common challenges, families then feel frustration when arguing with health plans about coverage, burdened when they pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for care that should be covered, and defeat in the face of postpartum depression and anxiety. These challenges have potentially lethal implications in the postpartum period: Suicide is a leading cause of death for new moms in the United States.
Much like their employees, most employers aren’t clear on the benefits they provide to their employees when it comes to breastfeeding support.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) specifies that parents have a legal right to comprehensive coverage for lactation support, including supplies and counseling. The ACA also mandates that health plans provide coverage for lactation services throughout the duration of the breastfeeding journey (not just in the hospital), provide patients with in-network lactation consultants, and cover services when no in-network providers are available. Have you confirmed that your health plan meets those requirements?
You might want to check.
Millions of families are falling through the cracks of a system where insurance providers avoid covering care, employers don’t understand the extent to which their coverage is failing employees, and lactation consultants can’t reach the families who need them. This issue often goes unseen by HR teams as working parents suffer in silence: Breastfeeding issues usually happen in the first few weeks of leave, and most parents are unaware that employers have influence over what their health plan covers. That means that by the time most parents return to work, they don’t mention their struggle to their HR teams — and many have already given up breastfeeding.
It’s time we bridged the gap.
As the largest network of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants in the nation, The Lactation Network partners with employers and health plans to bring clinical, expert care to families via telehealth or in person, in the comfort of their own homes. Working parents everywhere deserve nothing less.