I recently had a baby and decided to breastfeed. But what seemed like a simple decision turned out to be more challenging than I thought. Luckily, being an Independence Blue Cross (Independence) member helped me discover resources (like a breastfeeding support group) which made the experience much smoother. Here are my tips for getting through those first few months of nursing.
Shop early, pump often
One of the best decisions I made was to order a breast pump while I was still pregnant — one of many chores I wanted to get out of the way before the real fun started. As it turned out, my Independence plan covers breast pump purchases and rentals. I was even able to get certain models for free.
I assumed that I wouldn’t need to use my pump until I went back to work, but to my surprise, I started using it almost immediately. Pumping between feeds can help to increase your milk supply. It also lets you build a stash of milk that someone else can feed your baby, giving you the chance to grab a yoga class or get a much-needed haircut. Or, let’s be honest, just get a few more minutes of sleep.
To learn about breast pump coverage under your Independence plan, contact Customer Service at 1-800-ASK-BLUE (1-800-275-2583) (TTY:711).
Call in a Lactation Consultant
Sometimes nursing isn’t as instinctual as we think it will be. It can take a while for you and your baby to figure out what works. But if nursing continues to be uncomfortable or even painful, you probably need to change your technique. To minimize tears on both sides, get help from an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). A lactation consultant will watch you and your baby nurse and suggest adjustments, if needed. They may also weigh your baby before and after a feed to see how much milk is transferred.
To find covered breastfeeding help near you, log in to ibxpress.com and use the Provider Finder to search for “lactation support.” Pro tip: For your first time, find a lactation consultant who makes house calls — don’t worry, they’ll understand if you haven’t vacuumed in a while.
Find your tribe – Join a Breastfeeding Support Group
A breastfeeding support group offers camaraderie, information, and sympathy. You’ll meet other new moms in your area, which can lead to new friendships for both moms and kids. I found support groups invaluable. My group included both new and longtime nursing moms, so I was able to hear how they navigated challenges such as going back to work. Plus, it got me and baby out of the house during my maternity leave.
To find a breastfeeding support group near you, try a Web search or chat with other breastfeeding moms. You can also look into a larger organization such as La Leche League, or see if a local hospital holds group meetings.
New moms can use all the support they can get — so be sure to let Independence help however we can!