Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tip Tuesday: How I Got A New Breast Pump for Free

If there are any male readers stopping by the blog today, I'll let you off the hook for this post since it's geared slightly more towards my fellow females. If you're expecting, planning to be expecting, or know someone who's expecting, you may want to pass this link along. I received my brand-new Medela breast pump for free (in a totally legit way!) and today I'll tell you how you can hopefully do the same!

I thought I'd share a little bit about my breastfeeding experience, and why I think it's important for new moms to have a pump.

When I was expecting my first baby, I didn't even consider registering for a breast pump because I didn't think I'd need one. The birthing class lady said it was totally natural and while it might be a little uncomfortable at first, it would be easy. I read some books, because we all know that books prepare you for everything baby-related...hahaha...I'm sorry, I couldn't even finish typing that thought. Anyways, I thought it would be a doable thing for us.

Yeah, not my experience. At all.

After multiple sessions with the hospital lactation consultant, visits to the breastfeeding support group after I went home, and lots of tears, it just wasn't working. I tried everything from shields to a special freaking spoon and it just wasn't happening. I was completely stressed out. I was keeping my supply up with a Medela breast pump on loan from the lactation consultant, and the thought of giving that back made me nervous.

A nurse anesthetist friend of my mom's knew how much I wanted to be able to make breastfeeding work and suggested that I try pumping exclusively (pumping and storing breastmilk for baby's bottles, rather than formula feeding or breastfeeding). She gave me her old (sanitized) Medela Pump in Style double electric breast pump and it was all downhill from there.

I pumped exclusively for six months with Natalie, and, when breastfeeding went the same route with Michaela Byrd (plus a week-long stay for baby in the NICU due to an infection), I pumped for seven months.

While it was tough to be tied down to a pump several times a day, I felt like I was making the right choice for our family. I was less stressed out, I knew how much my babies were eating, and my supply held up great with pumping. We had no problems whatsoever!

Fast forward five and a half years, and I find out I'm expecting baby number three, on his way in a few weeks. Medela is a fantastic brand, but my pump was on its last legs after months of constant use, plus the time its former owner had spent using it as well.

What was I to do?

I did a little research and read online that there is a new law requiring health care plans to cover breastfeeding support and supplies. 

Women in many of the online forums I googled said that their plans covered a brand-new breast pump. Some noted that a few health care companies gave them the run-around and had loopholes like "we'll only cover a manual pump" or "we'll reimburse you" or "you have to order it within two weeks of your babies birth and it must be xyz model."

I decided to be brave and contact our health insurance provider. I was expecting to be met with some red tape, but my rep was more than helpful. She pleasantly looked up our policy, noted that a breast pump would be 100% covered under our plan and gave me the numbers of several supply providers in our state.

All I had to do was:
1. Call my insurance to see if my plan covers breast pumps.
2. Ask my OBGYN to write me a prescription for the breast pump (she was more than willing to do this, and was also sure to specify the exact model I wanted, a Medela Pump in Style Advanced on the Go Tote)
3. Have my doctor's office fax the provider of my choice the prescription, along with my info.

That's it.

The pump arrived on my doorstep about a week and a half later via UPS. No charge to me. Free. I paid nothing. Zilch. Nada.

It couldn't have been any easier. Instead of paying $300+ for a new pump, I spent some time on the phone and let my insurance handle it.

If you are expecting, I highly recommend calling your insurance to look into this benefit. Breastfeeding, unfortunately, does not work out for everyone...no matter how much you want it to. I came to the realization that, for me, it was better to pump and stop stressing than to be frantic about it. If you really want your baby to have breastmilk, even for a month or two, pumping might be an option for you! I know there are women who are not able to maintain a supply doing it, but my relatively healthy 7 and 5 year old are proof that it worked for me.

I know what it's like to feel judged and pressured because you can't breastfeed the "normal" way. It makes me angry when I see or hear others look down on moms who choose not to breastfeed or pump, for whatever the reason. Frankly, it's none of my business (or yours) how a new mom decides to nourish her child. Yeah, "breast is best," but I know plenty of healthy, happy, well-adjusted adults who were raised on formula. And my girls are no less bonded to me because I chose to give them breastmilk in a bottle.

Off the soapbox now. I hope today's tip helped you! After baby is here, I hope to show you the "pumping station" I'll be setting up in our bedroom. So stay tuned!

Did you struggle with breastfeeding or did it come easily to you?

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  1. That law is great, but just a warning, some insurance companies got grandfathered in and do not have to supply breast pumps :( Tri-Care is one of those, so for us, no free pump. BUT luckily ebay has great deals, got ours (madela pump in style advanced) for $170 brand new!

  2. Thank you so much for the info! But I'm a tad bit confused when you say, you sent to a provider of your choice?! Who exactly did you send it to? Again thank you!

    1. I echo this question….who exactly did you send it to? Medela directly??

  3. Beth, as I mention in the post, my insurance company gave me the numbers of several different providers for my state. I then chose the one I wanted to work with and they sent me the pump. These are usually medical supply companies.

  4. I also had problems breast feeding. the first night in the hospital was a night of tears on both my son and my end. I know they say babies aren't really hungry in their first 24 hours of life, but he was. and nothing was coming out of me. at four in the morning, with multiple calls to the nurses station, I gave up on trying to breast feed, and cried myself to sleep as they wheeled my newborn son to the nursery, where they would feed him a bottle. I had felt like I failed my son. I felt like I was a terrible mother, because I was constantly told that I needed to breastfeed, but if I wasn't producing, how could I?

    Im glad I'm not the only one who had problems breastfeeding.

  5. Some insurance companies only cover a portion of the cost :( like mine

  6. Some insurance companies only cover a portion of the cost :( like mine

  7. So, your baby was born...and then you got the breast pump?

  8. Kathy, as I mentioned in the post, I was expecting the baby when I placed the call to my insurance and was given permission to order the pump. I had him in December of '13 and received the pump weeks before he arrived.

    To the other commenters, the post does note that there are insurance companies out there who are "red taping" clients or giving other excuses (like the grandfathered policy). You'll just have to call your insurance provider to check. In my case, our Anthem policy worked out.

  9. It's fantastic to hear that your insurance company was able to help you out!! I too decided not to buy a pump just expecting I would breastfeed but my little girl arrived at 34 weeks and we couldn't attempt breastfeeding until she reached about 37 weeks gestation. She was so small and tiny that she really struggled. I ended up buying a medela pump (we don't have private health) and have been pumping since! She's now 9 weeks old and we are still pumping and attempting small feeds with a shield - I'm hoping to get to 6 months!!

    Adore Cherish Love

  10. Is this in the US or Canada or both?

  11. It's great that changes are being made to support breastfeeding. When I delivered my first child thirteen years ago we paid $150 to simply rent a pump from the hospital and insurance didn't cover the cost. I have the same provider now as I did then. If you've checked with your insurance carrier in the past for previous pregnancies, call again regarding your current or future pregnancies. When we had our third child three and a half years ago our company still didn't cover breast pumps - purchase or rental. We are currently expecting our fourth baby and after reading this post I called and learned they now cover breast pumps AND nursing supplies up to $450 with each birth with no restrictions on type of pump, etc. Nor does our insurance company require a prescription from the doctor. Their only stipulation is that we must wait until the baby is born. Thank you for sharing this invaluable information!

  12. I'm due with my third in a couple weeks and since my other two are older I just spaced the pump thing off, until my sis in law asked a few days ago. I didn't want to spend so much on a new one and was looking into renting until I came across your post. Called my insurance company today and it's covered! Thank you so much for this post as I never would have thought to call and ask. I haven't gotten one yet but will do it soon so I hope it's as easy as the phone call was. A big weight off my shoulders!


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