What the Affordable Care Act Means For Breastfeeding Moms and Their Families

Lactation Consultants and other health care providers have been lobbying and pressuring lawmakers for breastfeeding protection and promotion for years. Now it’s here, but legislation jargon can be very confusing. Here’s what you need to know:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA) provides provisions to encourage mothers to achieve and exceed their breastfeeding goals, including:

Health insurance benefits to help cover costs associated with providing breast milk to infants, including coverage of breastfeeding education and supplies in non-grandfathered health insurance plans.

Prior to the ACA, the IRS agreed to include breastfeeding supplies as an eligible expense for health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending accounts (FSAs) thanks to the promotion of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Coverage for breastfeeding education: As announced in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) 2011 guidance, breastfeeding benefits for non-grandfathered health insurance plans include pre- and postnatal counseling by a trained provider in conjunction with each child. Women may access comprehensive lactation support and counseling from trained providers. The benefits are available at no cost share to consumers.

Breastfeeding supplies benefits: The ACA requires non-grandfathered health insurance plans to cover the cost of breast pump rental or purchase at low or no cost to consumers.

Insurance Coverage: The breastfeeding coverage applies to all health plans except grandfathered plans. Under the law, 23 preventive health services for women are to be covered with no copayment, co-insurance or deductible in non-grandfathered plans. Many private employers already cover these services. For more information about Women’s Preventive Health Services visit healthcare.gov.

The National Breastfeeding Helpline: The National Breastfeeding Helpline from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office on Women’s Health has trained breastfeeding peer counselors to provide support by phone. The counselors can help answer common breastfeeding questions. They can also help you decide if you need to see a doctor or lactation consultant. The Helpline (800.994.9662) is available for all breastfeeding mothers, partners, prospective parents, family members and health professionals seeking to learn more about breastfeeding. The Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., EST. Help is available in English and Spanish.

What can expectant or new mothers do? 

  1. Set your breastfeeding goals.
  2. Find a pediatrician who is supportive of your breastfeeding goals.
  3. If you are working outside the home, talk to your employer about returning to work. Develop a workday plan for pumping while away from your baby. See a lactation consultant, and plan to attend our Strategies to Provide Breastmilk Through Pumping While Returning to Work class.
  4. Contact your insurance company and ask what exactly is covered and where to go to obtain breastfeeding education and supplies. Some insurance companies let you go anywhere and then get reimbursed, while other companies require patients to go to a specific provider or retailer.
  5. Enroll in a breastfeeding class
  6. Obtain a breastpump through your insurance, if able. We recommend obtaining your pump after baby arrives as you may need a hospital grade rental pump, and some insurance companies only cover use of those pumps if you have not already obtained a personal use pump. Please contact a lactation consultant at 425.688.5516 to see what pump is best if your insurance gives you multiple options.
  7. Once your baby is delivered, put your baby skin to skin and breastfeed your baby within the first hour. Continue offering your breast often.

Enjoy your baby, and ask for help with breastfeeding if needed. Overlake offers prenatal breastfeeding classes and prenatal lactation consultations. Once your baby is born, you will receive education and assistance with trained nurses and, if needed, lactation consultants in the hospital. After you go home, support continues with your post-partum follow-up appointment. You can also make appointments for one-on-one visits with Outpatient Lactation for further assistance with any breastfeeding issues and needs for returning to work. Additionally, we have a great support group for new mothers called After Baby Comes.

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Overlake’s March for Babies Team Raises Money With Bake Sale

March for Babies_ambassadors

Kaitlin (9) and Makenna (5) are Overlake babies who were both born 4 weeks early; Kaitlin spent 10 days in our NICU, and Makenna spent 11 days there.

Overlake Childbirth Center’s March of Dimes Team hosted a bake sale on the Overlake campus this past Wednesday and raised $1,389 toward their goal of $25,000!

Last year, Overlake’s team received first place for fundraising.

The March for Babies is an annual event that raises money for The March of Dimes. The 2016 walk will be held April 30 at Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. Registration begins at 8 a.m.; the walk begins at 9 a.m.

Click here to donate to the Overlake team.


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Pregnant? Get the Tdap Vaccine to Protect Your Baby from Whooping Cough

The first few months of life is when a baby is most vulnerable to serious complications from whooping cough (pertussis). Babies cannot get their first DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis) vaccine until two months of age, leaving them vulnerable to exposure if the mother has not been vaccinated. In fact, about 30 to 40 percent of babies who get whooping cough catch it from their mother.

The best time for a pregnant woman to get the Tdap (Tetanus, Diphtheria and Pertussis) vaccine is during the 27th through 36th week of pregnancy. In addition, it is recommended to get the vaccine during subsequent pregnancies.

Why? Even if you have received the vaccine prior to pregnancy or during previous pregnancies, the amount of pertussis antibodies decreases over time. When immunized during one pregnancy, the antibody levels may not stay high enough to provide enough protection for future pregnancies. There are no blood tests that can test for adequate immunity against pertussis.

By breastfeeding, antibodies pass to the baby in response to the vaccine. When vaccinated during your pregnancy, antibodies will be passed to breast milk as soon as your milk comes in. However, the baby will not get protective antibodies immediately if you wait to get the vaccine until after delivering your baby. It takes about two weeks for the body to create antibodies.

Read more about the Tdap vaccine and pregnancy from the CDC.

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NICU Grad Caitlin Pays it Forward

Caitlin and her lamb, with parents James and D’Anna, along with one of their original NICU nurses, Diane

In February 2007, baby Caitlin surprised her parents by arriving quite early – at 31 weeks. Born weighing only 2lbs, 11ozs, this precious girl spent about five weeks in our NICU before she and her family went home together. During those weeks, Caitlin grew and got stronger in the company of a small stuffed animal – a lamb that shared her isolette.

We were excited to have Caitlin (and her lamb!) visit us this year for her 9th birthday. And, Caitlin had a surprise for us. Instead of asking for birthday gifts for herself, this year she requested preemie and newborn baby-sized clothes she could give the babies who are currently in Overlake’s NICU. She, along with mom D’Anna and dad James arrived carrying a rather large “birthday bag” bursting with clothes, hats and blankets for our babies. While they were here, we had the privilege of giving the family a tour of the room where they stayed nine years ago, and were moved by the welling of memories of that time.

We love each and every one of our NICU families, and couldn’t be more proud see our graduates growing up to be so kind and generous. Thank you Caitlin, D’Anna and James for keeping alive the spirit of “paying it forward!”

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Celebratory Meals for Mom

After you deliver your baby, you may feel like you’ve run a marathon, or two! You may have not had very much to eat, and need to rest and regain strength. To celebrate this amazing milestone in your life, Overlake’s Executive Chef, Chris Linaman, has created an exclusive celebration menu for our new moms and their partners.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Each menu option includes your choice of the following entrées, plus a dessert, and a choice of sparkling water or sparkling cider.

Grass-fed lamb chops (pictured top right) served with roasted vegetables and mint chimichurri.

Antibiotic-free pork chop (hand-cut by Organic Red QuinoaLinaman every other day), served with roasted veggies and apricot-pear chutney.

Organic red quinoa (pictured bottom right) with kale and yams, topped with spiced pepitas and feta cheese.

For dessert, you’ll have a choice of a forest berry tart – creamy vanilla custard topped with a mix of fresh berries, or fresh lemon curd topped with browned meringue.

Linaman uses high-quality ingredients, such as grass-fed, antibiotic-free meat and fresh, organic vegetables and fruits.

“Seasons Dining’s desire is to add just one more special touch to an already amazing day in the life of a growing family,” says Linaman.

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Save the Date – March for Babies 2016

March for BabiesOverlake Medical Center was the proud recipient of the award for First Place Fundraising team for the 2015 March for Babies Walk with a total of $25,442. We were joined in this photo by the emcee at this morning’s 2016 kickoff event, DJ AJ from WARM 106.9 Radio, who told all in attendance his baby was recently born at Overlake and had an amazing experience!

The 2016 March for Babies will be held April 30, 2016 at Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Walk begins at 9 a.m.

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Family and Patient Centered Care Builds Trusting Relationships

What does family and patient centered care mean? We consider you a partner in care which means we want to hear from you, tell us about yourself and what is important to you. The nurse-patient relationship is the foundation of excellent care for achieving quality outcomes. We believe your involvement increases confidence in care and positively impacts the relationship with care providers.

Overlake is committed to providing patient centered care with our focus on our relationship with the patient and family. If you are anticipating having your baby at Overlake, you can expect to receive personalized care in a variety of ways.

    • An important first step is going over your “plan of care” and answering any questions you might have.
    • Next, you can expect a bedside report so that at change of shift you can expect to be included in the report and hand off of your care at the bedside.
    • Another personal touch is the white board in each room, a communication tool that is updated with your preferences.

We will work with you during your stay. Our partnership includes caring for you and your precious baby. We understand family and friends are important. There are no visitor restrictions unless requested by you.

The benefits to our patient centered care include: higher quality care, greater patient satisfaction, and a relationship of trust between patient and nurses. It is an honor and a privilege to care for new mothers, babies and the whole family.

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Going Home from the NICU

In the past few weeks, Overlake’s NICU has cared for many babies who were then discharged to go home with their families. Both experiences—arriving in and then leaving the NICU—can be challenging for families. During their stay here, I believe babies and families receive excellent, comprehensive care. I know the nurses, and all of us who work in the NICU, place an emphasis on teaching families ways to care for their premature babies. But, it rarely fails that when the day to go home arrives, parents report feeling very anxious. This is not surprising; after all, they are accustomed to checking the monitors, having a nurse nearby if they have concerns or questions, and depending on the safety net provided by the NICU.

One of the ways I work with families is to help them to focus on how much, since birth, their baby has grown, developed and matured. I reinforce that they likely have spent many hours here, holding and loving their baby, doing skin-to-skin care, learning to feed and care for him/her, and learning to read many of their baby’s ways to communicate. Parents know their babies better than any of us; I encourage families to trust themselves and to remember that children thrive at home.

One resource I recommend for families is the Community Health Nurse program. These nurses, located in all counties of Washington state, are employed by each county’s public health department. This very helpful service is designed especially to provide support in the home for babies who have been in the NICU. A registered nurse who is specially trained in the care, needs and development of preemies, (along with other children who need care in the NICU), can make home visits by appointment. The nurse can weigh and measure the baby on a regular basis, follow his/her development, and offer other community services and resources as needed. There is no fee for this program. (On a personal note, the community health nurse was very helpful to my daughter when she went home with a premature baby.)

If you are eligible for this helpful program, I hope you will consider it. They provide comprehensive, trustworthy care for our NICU graduates.



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Labor Nurse Wins Daisy Award

We hear from patients all the time. Mothers and fathers write to tell us about their time in our Childbirth Center, and we love knowing what wonderful experiences they have. Quite often, we hear about the special bond that mothers form with their labor nurse. That is no surprise, as our labor nurses are experienced, attentive and enthusiastic about partnering with moms to have healthy, safe deliveries.

So it was no surprise when one of our amazing labor nurses, Leslie, received the nationally recognized Daisy Award to honor her skills and compassion. To receive this award, a nurse must be nominated by their patient. This patient’s story made us especially proud. Leslie’s perseverance and dedication to honor her patient’s birth goals resulted in a very happy and healthy mother, father and baby.

Here is what the patient wrote about Leslie:

“Leslie was my nurse who started her shift right as I was starting to deliver my daughter. My doctor paid me a visit soon as Leslie came in and proceeded to give me worst case scenarios with my delivery, leading me to believe that she was pretty convinced I would have a C-section.

“When my doctor left, we asked Leslie if she felt I could do this vaginally. She made no promises but definitely felt it was possible and said she would do what she could to make it possible. She held to this promise, as she never left my side and did anything I asked of her. She cheered me on when I thought I couldn’t push anymore. She calmed my husband’s fears as the blood became more than he anticipated. She also made me feel like such a champion when I delivered my daughter in just over an hour as a first time mom.

“In the end, she was our angel that day and just the person we needed at the most beautiful and stressful time in our life.”

Congratulations, Leslie!

To learn more about the Daisy Award, or to nominate one of your nurses, visit the Daisy Foundation or pick up a brochure in our lobby.

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Pregnancy Doesn’t Last Forever – Five Tips for Getting Through the Final Week

For the majority of women who have the opportunity to be pregnant, those nine months are anything but what we thought they would be; there may be a lot more bodily and emotional discomforts than you thought possible. The good news is – you’re almost to the end! I know it sounds impossible now, but when you finally have your baby in your arms, you may even miss these days.

The wait is worth it. Pictured: The author holding her third son, born at 40 weeks.

A common question that comes up in the clinic is: “How can I possibly make it to my due date? I’m so uncomfortable!” Making it to at least 39 weeks is the best thing for your baby and we want to help you get there. Here are some tips for getting through the final week (and actually enjoying your last moments of pregnancy, too):

  1. Go on a date with your partner – All you may want to do right now is lie on the couch in your most comfortable pants. But a nice dinner or movie out on the town may be just the thing you need to keep your mind away from timing irregular contractions and surfing Google for “signs of labor.”
  2. Get a massage – Prenatal massage may be the world’s greatest uncovered secret. It helps with ligament and joint pain in your hips, reduces stress, improves blood and lymph circulation and improves sleep; all of which are very beneficial, especially during the last weeks. And, many insurance companies cover massage during pregnancy. Check it out!
  3. Take a warm bath – Warm water is very relaxing and may help alleviate the discomfort of early labor contractions or just help with everyday aches and pains. Just remember to keep water under 100 degrees Fahrenheit so you don’t overheat.
  4. Take a nap – In the last weeks of pregnancy getting a full night of sleep is almost impossible, so taking a 30 to 60 minute nap may help improve your energy to make it through the day. A good rest can also help with endurance during labor. Labor is a lot of work, and you will need energy!
  5. Write a letter to your baby – Take a few moments to share everything with your baby that you are experiencing right now: the good and the not-so-good, too. You will never have this opportunity again with this child. And in a year, when it’s so hard to remember these days, you will have a special memento to look back on and cherish forever.

We are always here for you to call and ask questions. Good luck; you are almost to the “finish line!”

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