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Ditching the Pump

26 Jun

Do Not Disturb Door Hanger

So, you’ve made it to your baby’s first birthday and you’re still breastfeeding – take a moment to applaud yourself for all the hard work you’ve done this past year! If you are a working mother, this past year has probably consisted of countless hours hooked up to your pump, something most women are eager to stop.  Your child is probably now eating a wide range of solids and drinking other liquids, but as much as you would like to ditch the pump, you and your little one are not ready to wean completely from breastfeeding.  The good news is you can wean from your pump without weaning your child.  Here is my story!

I returned to work full time at just 6 weeks post partum, so I started out pumping twice per 8 hour work day.  After about 3 months, I was able to drop down to one single session per day.  I continued to pump daily until my daughter turned 12 mos.  A few weeks after our big celebration, I was able to completely eliminate my daily pumping session.  My daughter is now 20 months old, and we continue to breastfeed on demand whenever we are together on evenings, weekends, and the middle of the night.  I’m happy to report that I have had no decrease in supply despite dropping my workday pumping session, which is probably the greatest concern a momma has when contemplating doing the same herself.

If you are looking to wean from the pump, but continue to breastfeed, you should work on eliminating only one session at a time. You can do this one of two ways.  The first way is by shortening your pumping session by five minutes every few days until you are at zero.  The second way is by pushing back your pump time by about a half an hour every few days, until you are at your next regularly scheduled feeding or pumping session. ( CaraChamberlin_0No matter which method you choose, this is a process that should be done slowly so that you avoid leaking, plugged ducts, or mastitis. Be prepared for the process to take several weeks for each session that you intend to eliminate.  Personally, I chose the second method.  I pushed back my pumping time by 30 minutes every 2 or 3 days until I was down to the end of my work day.  The first day I went to work without my pump was so liberating! It is a wonderful freedom to be able to continue to breastfeed my daughter without the nuisance of pumping.

After a year old, your child’s nutritional requirements can now be met with as little as 15 oz of breast milk in 24 hours (, which you can easily provide in just a few nursing sessions per day. Your child will also eat solids and drink other liquids in your absence.  Despite common advice, you do not have to offer cow’s milk if you don’t want to or if your child refuses it.  (

Remember, your milk is still perfectly suited for your child as they transition from a baby to a toddler.   Your milk supply will adjust to the changes, and you will be able to nurse just fine when you’re together.  You will also enjoy being liberated from your pump, while still knowing you’re providing the best for your child that you possibly can.


Heather McMackin is not only a working (now, pump free) mom, but she also serves as a Moderator on the Breastfeed Chicago’s Facebook Group!




Confessions of a Lactivist – Part 2: In which I explain the no formula recommendations policy

2 Jun

To fully understand this post, you’ll probably be better off reading this one first.

So, why don’t we allow formula recommendations on our Facebook group? Let’s lay some of these assumptions and issues to rest.

“Why are you anti-formula?”

We aren’t anti-formula. We are a breastfeeding support organization. Let us do what we do best – help moms with breastfeeding. I have no idea what formula is best for your baby because I don’t know your baby and I’m not his/her doctor and I have not done extensive research on formula. Neither have any of the other admins or moderators. Go to your health care professional to talk about your formula decisions – they are way better equipped to help you through that choice.

“I’m just looking for the advice from other moms who have been through this.”

I totally get that, but can you imagine a new mom going to a breastfeeding support group and hearing a bunch of moms discussing the intricacies of formula selection? Moderating nightmare, let me tell you. Join any other mom group on the internet and you will find that discussion. We also don’t host questions about cloth diapers, vaccinations, circumcision or baby toy mega sales. (I’d like to point out that no one has ever accused me of being anti- baby toy mega sales.)

“What right do you have to control what people say? This is a free country!”

We are a breastfeeding support organization. You wouldn’t join a vegetarian group and ask for advice on the best all-beef hamburger recipe, right? Without being too snarky (though I’m sure it sounds that way), it’s our group and we get to design the focus of the group. There are MANY other places for moms to find information on other topics.

“You’re making formula-feeding moms feel guilty.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Slow down. Last time I checked, I can’t *make* anyone feel anything. Yeah, if I said, “You’re a terrible mother for not buying toys from that mega sale,” that’s a super mean thing to say, but you would just tell me to eff off and go along with your business. Lucky for us, we at Breastfeed Chicago would never call anyone a terrible mother for doing or not doing anything, but for some reason, folks like to conflate things. Supporting something is not the same as degrading something else. We don’t degrade anyone. We never have. The feelings you feel are yours. Own them, and if they are not helpful to you, let them go.

“I don’t understand what the big deal is.”

The big deal is that we know that breastfeeding is the biological norm for us and our children, and we want to encourage moms to do it, to the extent of their ability, situation and interest in doing so. Moms already get negative reactions to breastfeeding from all sorts of places. Formula companies already have insiduous and predatory marketing practices, making hospitals and doctors complicit in their “booby traps.” And the internet is chock full of bad information and advice. We like to think of ourselves as an oasis of positive breastfeeding support for moms, and we’re going to fight to maintain that status.

“But some moms can’t breastfeed.”

That is true. And thank goodness we have milk banks or milk sharing or formula for those moms. Once again, we can’t possibly be all things to all people.

Mamas, let me make this perfectly clear: I support you. I, too, have been in the deepest, darkest holes of motherhood, not sure my life would ever return to normal. Breastfeed Chicago is our way of extending our experience and empathy to you. If we help you, great. If our help is not helpful, we hope that you find a source that is better suited to your needs.

Either way, rock your mama self and give that baby of yours a big smootch for us.kiss

Katrina Pavlik is the founder and board chair of Breastfeed Chicago. She is a mom of two – one received breastmilk through a bottle for a year; one breastfed (and refused a bottle!!!) for nearly 3 years. Both are perfect and imperfect and absolutely amazing in every way. 

Confessions of a Lactivist – Part 1: In which I tell the world that I used formula

2 Jun

I gave my son formula. There, I said it.

As I sit here on my couch, I gaze over at my almost 8-year-old and try to remember the early days with him. They were tough. Really, really tough. We left the hospital with a bag of free formula and a nipple shield. In my head swam the memory of a nurse? LC? rushing into my hospital room, declaring my nipples “flat,” shoving a nipple shield onto my boob and dashing back out the door without a hint of what to do next. The first few days at home were fraught with tears, worry and more tears. I called a couple lactation consultants who refused to come to my southside neighborhood and had no recommendations for me. My doctor hooked me up with some LCs at the local hospital who told me everything “looked” fine. I was in so much pain, I cried every time he nursed. By 8 weeks, he was starting to pull my nipple through the little holes in the nipple shield and I gave up. I pumped for him for a year and it was not pretty/fun/easy, but I did it, and I’m proud of every drop of breastmilk I gave him.

During that time, I supplemented with formula from time to time. I’m not going to justify it. I’m not going to feel bad about it. I’m not even going to regret it. I did what I thought I needed to with the information and support I had at the time.

5 years later, I started Breastfeed Chicago. Sometimes I joke that running Breastfeed Chicago is my therapy – a way to get over the awful experience I had with my first. Actually, that’s not a joke. This is my way of telling the universe that the lack of support I felt sucked. Big time. I believe we can do better as a culture, as a city, and as a community of moms.

So why this confession? Why now?

Today I (and the organization) was called “condescending,” “disingenuous,” “Type-A,” “quasi-natural,” and “elitist.” Damn.

My first reaction was, “Wow! Are the formula companies coming after us with fake moms now?”


This is a joke. Just wanted to make that clear.

My second reaction was, “Have you *heard* my Wisconsin accent???” ‘Cause, really, if you knew me, “elitist” would not be the first thing to come to mind.

My third reaction was, “What the heck is she talking about?”

Apparently, some moms in our Facebook group have taken issue with our policy to not allow formula recommendations in the group. This means that if a mom posts to Breastfeed Chicago asking for advice on what formula to use with their baby, we kindly point them to our policy post, encourage them to talk to their doctor, and delete the post. We do not shame them, berate them, or in any way indicate they are a “bad” mom for wanting or needing to supplement.

Here’s the thing, I personally don’t believe that the policy above deserves the accusations we got. I am, however, starting to notice a pattern. The more we take a stand for breastfeeding, the more we hear the same tired tune in its many variations: “If you’re a breastfeeding supporter, you must be a total raging lunatic that hates anyone who doesn’t breastfeed.” That’s ridiculous. As the old cliche goes, some of my best friends fed their babies formula, and I think they are fantastic people and mothers. Yeah, we live in a polarized country that likes to sort things into black and white, but we all know that motherhood doesn’t work that way.

And sure, there are those outliers who will question a mom’s integrity if she doesn’t breastfeed. They’re jerks, and we all like to ignore them and hope they will go away.

However, true “lactivists” are folks who promote and support breastfeeding. Period. No need to read into it or make assumptions about a dozen other things that may or may not be true about us. (See the adjectives listed above for ideas on what we are probably not.) What we are are mothers, fathers, partners, grandparents, sisters and friends who who want the mamas they love to have easiest route to breastfeeding possible.

We’re not fanatics. We’re not dogmatic. We’re not even hydromatic. (Cue the Grease soundtrack.) We’ve got long and sordid histories just as much as the next mama.

Now, onto Part 2: In which I explain the no formula recommendations policy.

Katrina Pavlik is the founder and board chair of Breastfeed Chicago. 

Navigating Nursing in Public in the Chicagoland Area (or anywhere)

30 May

Nursing in Public (NIP) – for some breastfeeding moms this comes easily, for others this idea makes some extremely nervous. Usually, but not always, it’s the first-time mama or first-time breastfeeding mama who is worried about breastfeeding her babe outside of the home. What it boils down to are two things. One, lack of practice of nursing in public. And two, lack of confidence.

I’ve been there. I’ve been that mom who would run to the car to breastfeed my son, or strategically plan my day around when I thought he was going to eat, so I would be home when he was hungry – this way I wouldn’t have to worry about nursing in public. When I would NIP, I would search for the most secluded spot– if my husband was with me, I would have him be my bodyguard and block me. Then, I would whip out my cover. Meanwhile, I would make sure no one was looking and would then try to latch my son on as quickly as possible before someone could catch a glimpse of my breast. Finally, I’d hold the cover on. If anyone came near us or if baby started to wiggle, I would break out in a sweat. When he wanted to switch breasts, this process would begin all over again. Completely not stressful at all…

Then, I found a friend who breastfed. And, she did it without a cover. AND, she did it anywhere and everywhere, without breaking a sweat. That’s all it took. If Anna was breastfeeding her little guy and wasn’t stressing, why couldn’t I? She even chased after our kids who ran off, continuing to nurse babe – and no one batted an eye. And, so my NIP really began. We would meet up at local parks, play spaces, gymnastic classes, bowling alleys. Our older kids would play and our babies would nurse. I practiced breastfeeding covered and not covered. I gained confidence. Eventually, I could nurse in public on my own and not stress out if I had forgotten my cover. It felt great. And, my baby was happy and fed.


So, how does this help you? How can you feel comfortable nursing in public? Well, grab your baby and try these 5 steps.

  1. Practice. Breastfeed in front of a mirror at home and see exactly what is and what isn’t showing. Have baby latch and re-latch so you can get him on and off the breast quickly (for many, this is the most stressful part because they don’t want to expose a nipple). Practice nursing in a carrier – this is a great way for moms of more than one to NIP. Baby is content and mom can still keep tabs, play with, or chase after older siblings. Don’t have a carrier? Check out Babywearing International (; the Chicago area even has their own chapter:
  2. Find a friend who breastfeeds in public. Watch what she does. Do it with her. Nothing like strength in numbers to boost that confidence.
  3. Remember it’s okay to cover if you want. It’s better than not breastfeeding at all. NIP is not all or nothing. You do it how you feel comfortable and what works for your child.
  4. Purchase or make some nursing friendly clothes. We have a great blog piece on making your own:
  5. Finally, and most importantly, remind yourself that breastfeeding is normal!!! Let me say that again. Breastfeeding is NORMAL. No one should make you feel ashamed of what you are doing, ask you to go somewhere else (especially a bathroom), or talk down to you. NO ONE should ask you to use a cover. And, you DO NOT need to ask if it’s okay to breastfeed your baby. Would you ask if it was okay to bottlefeed? Don’t let them have that power. You are nourishing your child. You are comforting your child. You are being a mom. Every time you nurse in public, you are normalizing breastfeeding. And, for that YOU ROCK! So, NIP ladies, NIP.

For those mamas who want to give NIP a shot, we’ve compiled a list of some cozy places to nurse around the Chicagoland area. Print it out, keep it handy. Who knows, you might see a fellow BFChicago member nursing in that same spot and make a new mommy friend.


Art Institute – Family Room, extra good if you have older kids with you because they can play while you nurse (and it’s usually pretty quiet)

Field Museum – there are benches everywhere, but on the top floor by the DNA exhibit there’s a bench by the movie that plays continuously – a nice private area to nurse; nursing room downstairs (it’s small, but quiet)

Kohl’s Children’s Museum – lots of different nursing areas

Children’s DuPage Museum in Naperville

Oak Lawn Children’s Museum – it’s small enough to not lose your toddler and there are plenty of benches to sit on and nurse

Aquariums and Zoos:

Shedd Aquarium – benches in front of the Belugas on the bottom floor (everyone is watching the whales and babies like the movement of the water, plus it’s dark – perfect combo to peacefully nurse) and a private nursing room, if needed.

Brookfield Zoo – Hamill Family Zoo (if you tell them you need to breastfeed your baby and aren’t a member, you get free admission to the area). There are lots of chairs throughout plus a quiet private nursing room with a comfy couch; nursing by the Snow Leopards, Giraffes, and the bench in front of the Rhinos; underwater dolphin view; any of the cafeterias or picnic areas

Lincoln Park Zoo – splash pad area in Children’s Zoo, let your older child splash about while you breastfeed baby; also nice benches outside of the bird building

Malls and Retail Stores:

IKEA Schaumburg – anywhere but the room in the bathroom!! The 3rd floor family room with rocking chairs, seating and toys for siblings. Can even turn off the overhead lights and turn on a lamp; or, any of the displays with comfy couches or chairs; they even offer complimentary diapers!! The Poang chairs are great for laidback breastfeeding (Bolingbrook store also has family rooms)

Target stores – in the café

Hawthorne Mall- family area, it’s tucked away, but it’s awesome! Nursing stations for mom, tvs, and toys to keep older kids entertained. Lower level by JC Penney

Buy Buy Baby – they have a changing station, too

Anthropologie – fitting rooms are great, their couches are huge and comfy and their sales girls are super nice. Can hang with friends while they try on their clothes!

Macy’s on State Street – very friendly

Babies R Us – the gliders are nice to nurse in

Chicago Ridge Mall – has a couple of nursing rooms with chairs and curtains for privacy

Any restaurant or mall – the comfy chairs at the mall are the best!

Fashion Outlet Mall – nice chairs and couches outside the 2nd level restroom, they have a private nursing room, too

Nordstrom’s – fitting rooms, women’s lounge (not the bathroom), cafe

Any of the Westfield Malls and Bolingbrook Promenade

Van Mawr – 2nd floor sitting room next to bathrooms

Water Tower – mother’s room in the 4th floor bathroom that locks if you need to pump


Eataly Chicago – 43 East Ohio Street Chicago 60611

Cracker Barrel restaurants – the rockers on the front porch

First Slice Pie Café – 4401 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago 60640 can also go to the back to the art studio and nurse on the couch

Downtown Chicago:

Palmer House Hotel – mezzanine level (there is dim lighting and couches, no one bothers you at all)

Navy Pier –Crystal Gardens, tons of benches to choose from and it’s so serene watching the water jump…unless you have a super easily distracted baby; Children’s Museum on the 2nd floor there is a nursing room with toys to keep your other kids busy while you breastfeed

Millennium Park – all over!


Botanic Gardens – anywhere, but they also have a private first aid room if you need to pump


 NIP articles and helpful resources:

Breastfeeding State Laws:

Huffington Post article Why I am glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public

Kellymom article on NIP:

LLL link on breastfeeding in public:

Free e-course by The Badass Breastfeeder about empowering yourself to nurse in public:


A special thanks to my friend, Anna Mohallim for being that mom who inspired me to NIP. And, a HUGE shoutout to all of the members of Breastfeed Chicago who submitted their favorite place to nurse in and around Chicago. Thanks for normalizing breastfeeding in Chicago!!

Jennifer Adams is a mom of 3 who pumped for her first and breastfed her second and third.  She is a CAPPA Certified Postpartum Doula, Certified Lactation Specialist, and serves on the Board of Breastfeed, Chicago! Jennifer wants to normalize breastfeeding in Chicago and beyond. 



Free Ain’t Free

21 May

Dad was right. There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

First, some stats: In 2013, 11.1% of Illinois babies had been exclusively breastfed at 6 months old. This means no formula supplementation and no solids. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Healthy People 2020 initiative wants us to be up to 25.5% by year 2020. (Other countries’ data.)

Why? Because we know that exclusive breastfeeding is better for baby and better for mom. (More on that here and here.)

OK, got it. Exclusive breastfeeding is ideal. “Breast is best” and all that. We’ve heard that song before.

There are LOTS of reasons exclusive breastfeeding doesn’t happen for moms and babies. Some are legit, and some are not. In the “are not” category lies the topic of today’s post: formula marketing in healthcare facilities.

Remember that time you were in a hospital and the doctor said, “Listen, I really need you to eat a healthier diet, but I know that’s really hard to do, so I left a hamburger and french fries next to your bed – provided free of charge – just in case you need it.”

No? That’s never happened in the history of medicine? So why is it OK for our medical professionals, the people we trust to guide our health decisions, to sell out our babies’ health in the name of corporate profit? We KNOW breast is best. We KNOW breastfeeding can be really difficult for some moms. We KNOW that our partners, parents, friends and employers can be total douchebags about our decision to breastfeed.

The last thing on earth we need is corporate profit weaseling its way into our breastfeeding relationship… through the people and institutions we trust!

Formula marketing in healthcare facilities has to stop if we are serious about helping moms and babies.

This is about MONEY and MESSAGE.

MONEY: Formula companies know that moms who get started on formula in the hospital will stay loyal to that brand. The logic: if I got it in the hospital, then the folks who know a lot about health must think it’s OK. Moms who get started supplementing early will also have trouble building up a full breastmilk supply, so they’re going to need to supplement for the full first year of their baby’s life. That’s some serious cash and definitely not “free.”

MESSAGE: Just as providing divorce papers – just in case – at a wedding ceremony is not the best message for newlyweds, providing formula at a birth sends moms a seriously mixed-up message. Yes, of course there are some moms choose to formula feed, and there are some moms who truly cannot exclusively breastfeed. We’re not talking about those moms. We’re talking about moms who *want* to breastfeed, who *plan* to breastfeed, who are *able* to breastfeed – those are the moms who suffer the most from this insidious practice. New moms doubt themselves… a lot! They honestly don’t know if their bodies can supply everything their babies need to grow and thrive. When healthcare professionals hawk breastmilk replacements – passively or not – they are basically telling a mom, “You’re probably not going to succeed at this. You are not enough for your baby.” Breastfeeding success depends on mom’s confidence in herself, but we are systematically allowing that confidence to be chipped away…


You’d think someone would have done something about this by now. Oh wait, they did. Thirty-three years ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. Even back then, in the dark ages, they knew that moms need all the help they can get to be successful in breastfeeding. By the way, I was 5 in 1981. That’s crazy.

Today I had the pleasure of participating in a petition delivery to urge formula companies to adhere to the WHO Code.* Better late than never, right?


Folks from Breastfeed Chicago, HealthConnect One, Food & Water Watch, and Public Citizen

Will we convince formula companies to stop marketing in healthcare facilities? Maybe not. Can we do anything else? Yes.

  1. Make sure your doctor knows that formula samples and marketing through them are in violation of the WHO Code and really not great for moms and babies. Let your doctor know that you trust her to help you make healthy decisions, so you expect her to become educated about this.
  2. Refuse “free” formula samples and talk to nurse managers, hospital administrators and your doctor about why your business will go elsewhere if they don’t change their practices. Here’s what a Baby Friendly doctor’s office looks like. Here’s proof that banning free formula samples is correlated with a higher hospital rating.
  3. Support your friends. New moms rely on their friends to help them through the most difficult parts of motherhood. If your friend is giving birth soon, help her connect to great, evidence-based resources on breastfeeding. If she’s having problems, help her connect to a lactation professional.

Get formula out of our healthcare facilities, Chicago! Help make it easier for moms to breastfeed successfully.


 *Thank to Public Citizen who organized the petition and its delivery. You rock! 

Starting Solids

9 May

There is an excellent article by Adriano Cattaneo in Breastfeeding Review on infant/ child feeding – where, how, by whom and why. Ms. Cattaneo is attached to the unit for heal services research and international health of the Institute for Maternal and Child Health. Ms. Cattaneo makes some very important points:

1) “We are mammals and thus we breastfeed.”

World Health Organization ( WHO) recommendations are to start as soon after birth as possible, breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and continue with the addition of complementary foods for 2 years or beyond

2) “We are mammals and thus we wean.”

Weaning is defined as the period between the first introduction of foods or fluid other than breastmilk and the last feed at the breast. Weaning is in part dependent on the availability of weaning foods.

3) The timing of the introduction of complementary food is dependent on: a) the nutrient needs of the infant and, b) the ability of the infant to utilize these nutrients.

Evolution and humans have made it so that these two conditions occur simultaneously – roughly at six months of age. Unless we were to test nutrient levels, hepatic and renal function we need to rely on observation of the infant to know when he or she is ready for their first weaning foods or fluids.100_4784

4) The “window of development” that indicates a readiness for complementary foods includes: the ability to sit up unsupported; an infants’ interest in food – not just to play with; and the capacity to reach out, grab, put it in the mouth, chew and swallow safely.

5 ) We learn by doing! Babies need to reach out for food, grab, take into their mouths, chew and swallow safely – this way they learn all the necessary skills!

6) The nutrients needed by an exclusively breastfed baby are minerals (iron, zinc, iodine) and some vitamins. The first weaning foods should be meats, fish, eggs diary products, nuts and pulses (grain legumes).

7) For greater acceptance start with those foods infants are already familiar with – the tastes and flavors of the foods you ate when they were in utero and while you are breastfeeding.

8) Healthy and safe family foods are more nutritious than industrial foods. Industrial foods do not contain the flavor range of family foods. Infants then have to learn the industrial foods and then make a transition to home foods.

9) Industry is business – they need to make money, they market wisely in order to stay in business.

Patricia Berg-Drazin, RLC, IBCLC, CST has more than 20 years of experience as an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant and as a manual therapist. She is a Certified Craniosacral Therapist with credentials through the Upledger Institute with specific training in lymphatic drainage, visceral manipulation, and total body balancing. The combination of specialties provides her with a unique perspective and skill set. In addition, Ms. Berg-Drazin is on the faculty at National University of Health Sciences.  She is a reviewer for the Journal of Human Lactation and has published on nipple shields, nipple staph infections, and Galactosemia. She also lectures on structure and function and how they relate to breastfeeding. I n addition, she is also a founding member of Breastfeed Chicago. For more lactation info, please refer to Patricia’s website:

Sharing the Love

10 Apr

We asked members of our Facebook group what Breasfeed Chicago meant to them. Here’s what they said. Wow.


16 Things You Can Do While Breastfeeding

8 Apr

Someone who would like to talk you out of breastfeeding might whine, “Oh, but breastfeeding takes so much time!”  And preparing bottles doesn’t? In the first place, our society places too much importance on getting volumes and masses of things done, as if that is how we prove our worth.  Yes, breastfeeding takes time.  So does paying attention to a child.  So does lovingly raising a child, for that matter. newmamakiss When first learning how to breastfeed your baby, you’ll need two hands and maybe even a pillow.  As time goes on, you’ll find you can get one hand free.  Here is a list (incomplete, to be sure) of things you can do while breastfeeding your baby: Relax and be in the moment.

  1. Talk on the phone.
  2. Count your baby’s eyelashes.
  3. Read to your older child.
  4. Talk to your baby.
  5. Read the complete works of Charles Dickens.
  6. Doze off for a beauty rest
  7. Drink water (hydrate, hydrate)!
  8. Visit with friends.
  9. Eat a nutritious snack.
  10. Mentally list your daily 10 Things to Be Grateful for
  11. With baby in a sling, take a walk.
  12. Relax outdoors.
  13. Play guessing games with your older child.
  14. Meditate.
  15. Eat ice-cream while pampering your face with a homemade facial mask
  16. Sure, you can text and surf and post, but it may not seem very important as those nursing hormones center your mind and open your heart.

Most of all, you will find that “getting a lot of stuff done” is no longer as imperative as it once seemed.  Now, simply “being” is “enough.”

Joy Davy, MS, LCPC, NCC is a counselor with a private practice in Hinsdale, Illinois.  She can be reached at  Her website

Will My Insurance Cover a Breast Pump???

19 Feb

It’s a common question for new moms. As of last year the answer is YES! With the passing of the Pumping-MomAffordable Care Act (ACA), the law now mandates that breast pumps be covered under the plan at no out-of-pocket expense to the new mother, with some exceptions which are explained below.

Although ACA requires insurance companies to provide pumps, the style and type of pump covered is not specifically set. There are three main styles of breast pumps: manual, electric, and hospital grade. From my experience, the majority of plans are covering a double electric breast pump.

Common Requirements and Limits:

  • Most insurance companies require you to purchase your pump through an in-network Durable Medical Equipment (DME) provider.
  • Most insurance plans will limit what they pay to a specified amount.  Common retail models like a Medela Pump in Style often fall outside the maximum allowable cost. The main reason for this is because most retail models come with extra accessories that many insurance companies consider a convenience item: a bag, extra bottles and ice packs, cleaning supplies, and AC (car) adaptors, etc.  For this reason most manufactures of breast pumps have moved to special “insurance model” breast pumps which only include the basic items required for pumping. You can always purchase the “convenience” items separately.

Every plan is a little different so there are a few good questions that you want to call and ask your insurance company to know what your benefit is.  It is also helpful to speak their language, so below is a list of questions you can ask.

Is my plan ACA compliant? 

  • Most insurance plans now are ACA compliant; however, not all. How and why is rather complex, but some insurance plans are “grandfathered” and therefore not subject to ACA. If your plan is “grandfathered” it can be excluded or subject to deductible and out of pocket.

What type of pump is covered?

  • As mentioned above there are three main categories of pumps: Manual (E0602), Electric (E0603), and Hospital Grade (E0604). Each is going to have its own set of rules allowable, and billing code called a HCPCS, which are given in parentheses. If you just call your insurance company and ask about a breast pump, they could be giving you rules on a manual (E0602) and you are thinking it’s an electric (E0603).  Also please note that an E0603 is called an electric breast pump. The insurance companies do not distinguish between a single and double. When you are talking to your DME provider, you want to make sure they are providing a double electric pump.

How much will they cover?

  • For each of the billing codes, the DME supplier and insurance company have a contracted amount which is known as an “allowable.”  Allowables vary based on your specific plan, but I’ve found that most private insurance companies have an allowable of about $150.
  • One common misunderstanding is that when you call your insurance company, they will likely say something like: “The breast pump is covered under the Women’s Preventive Care Benefit, and payment is considered at 100% no copay, coinsurance, or deductible apply. There is no maximum to this benefit.“ What they are saying is that there is no maximum to what the insurance will pay under the Women’s Preventive Health Benefit, which includes many different benefits – breastfeeding is just one. However the insurance company will still limit payment to the contracted amount for the breast pump.  The full list of ACA mandated women’s preventive health benefits can be seen by Clicking Here.

Can I pay the difference for the pump I want?

  • The quick and easy answer is no. In order to be an in-network provider, we as a DME company sign a contract with the insurance company saying that we agree to accept the allowed amount for each billing code, and write off any remaining balance. However, we are given the discretion to decide which items we are willing to bill to insurance and which we are not. There are many retail pumps that cost $300-$500, and these pumps would have the same billing codes that cost $150. Theoretically, we could bill the $500 pump, but we would still only get paid the $150, which would be far less then our cost on the pump. Clearly no DME company could afford to do this and stay in business.

 Does the pump require any documentation?

  • Often a prescription is required just for the DME company to establish you are, in fact, pregnant.
  • If you want a hospital grade pump, there must also be a medical reason why it’s needed. Common examples are things like inverted nipples, premature birth, or multiples birth. Hospital grade pumps typically are provided as a rental, with a maximum benefit of 12 months per pregnancy.

Do I need to go to an in network supplier?

  • To get your maximum benefit, most insurance companies will require you to use an in-network provider. They should be able to give you names and numbers of in-network providers in your area.

When can I order?

  • Most policies do not require any specific time frame for advanced orders and will allow you to receive your pump at any point during your pregnancy. However, I have seen some policies that require you to wait until 30 days before your due date, and others will not provide a pump before the actual birth.

Can I get multiple breast pumps?

  • Many plans will allow you to have two pumps if you are planning on going back to work.

This article was provided by Stephen Sear with Mark Drug Medical Supply. Mark Drug is a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO preferred provider and can provide you with your breast pump. They stock a variety of different pumps, including the Medela Pump In Style Starter Kit You can visit their site: # 847-537-8500 Fax # 847-537-8500 Email

How to Make Your Mother-in-Law Chill

11 Feb

mother-in-lawDear Young Mother,

Do you have an older mother in your life (or perhaps she’s not even older) who is trying to make you see the light and mother “her way”?

She may be your mother-in-law, your grandma, your mom, or even a sister or friend.  She’s sure she’s right, and you are, in her mind, making Mistakes with a capital “M.”  She hints, she sends you links to articles, she comes out and tells you that she doesn’t know what book you just read, but you must listen to her now, while there’s still time.

It’s exhausting.  It’s also undermining and insulting.  Yet, your patience and tolerance forbid you from directly telling her to keep her opinions to herself, and she takes that as encouragement to keep on trying to convert you to her ideas.

Or maybe your patience is at an end, and you find yourself in open conflict with her over breastfeeding, attachment parenting, cloth diapers, when to start solid foods, and on and on.

Would you like peace in your life and in your heart?

Let’s take a look at what is going on here:  What is the sub-text underneath her criticism?  If there were subtitles flashing under her face as she points out (kindly or not) the error of your mothering ways, what would those subtitles say?….

Do you think I’m a bad mother?  Is your style of mothering a veiled criticism of mine?  [And if she is your mother-in-law]:  Will my son think less of me as a mother because of your way of breastfeeding, feeding solids, or diapering? If you think you are right, does that mean that I am wrong?  Are you a better mom than I?  Because if you are a better mom than I am, I will be crushed.”

That, dear young mother, is what is going on here.

Your mother-in-law (or fill in the name of your nemesis here) is, whether she knows it or not, reacting to your parenting style from fear.  Like you, she has some insecurity in a world where there is conflicting advice everywhere about the “best” way to parent.  Like you, she wanted to do the very best job she could as a mom.  Just as you will hope, she hopes that the choices she made were above reproach.

Now imagine how she might feel, to see at close range, a mother who is lovingly devoted to her baby–and doing so many things very differently from the way she did them.

Some women can relax in that situation, knowing that they did their best when it was their turn, and wishing all the best to the young mom.  However, a mom who harbors a lot of insecurity (no doubt hidden under a cloak of great confidence), feels alarmed.  She needs reassurance that she did all right.  And what would be most reassuring, would be if you would do things the way she did.

Understanding this, how will you calm her fears?  That is the question.

When her fears are calmed, she will stop trying to change you.

Might you give her a compliment on her own mothering?  For example, one young mother told her mother-in-law,  “I know that Joe always appreciates how you were always there for him when he came home from school each day.”

Her mother-in-law replied quickly, “He says that?”

“Oh yes,” replied the peace maker.  “That’s something I hope to be able to do, too.  He’s mentioned those after-school memories more than once.”

Believe it or not, criticisms slowed down and eventually ceased, as this smart mom nurtured the frightened inner child of her mother-in-law.

And that is how you can make your mother-in-law chill.  Try it, and let me know how it goes.

Joy Davy, MS, LCPC, NCC is a counselor with a private practice in Hinsdale, Illinois.  She can be reached at  Her website is


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