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Bloomberg BusinessWeek
By Patricia Clark
2013 August 26

Since January, the Affordable Care Act has required insurers to cover breast pumps at no cost to new moms. That makes sense, given the law’s focus on preventive medicine. A 2010 article in the journal Pediatrics estimated that if 90 percent of U.S. moms were to breast-feed their infants exclusively for the first six months, it would save $13 billion a year in health-care costs.

The new law might seem like a bonanza for the breast pump trade, pumping millions to manufacturers and retailers. But it requires insurers only to cover pumps—high-end models cost $400 or more—purchased through durable medical equipment suppliers (DMEs). Those are companies eligible to be reimbursed by government and private insurance for certain kinds of medical equipment, usually for long-term use at home. The accreditation process is complex; the market is big: Retail spending for durable medical equipment was $38.9 billion (PDF) in 2011, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Before the law took effect, most DMEs didn’t offer breast pumps, and most stores that sold pumps weren’t accredited as DMEs, says Amanda Cole, who launched the Yummy Mummy on Manhattan’s Upper East Side in 2009 to cater to nursing moms. After she learned about the provision, Cole applied for accreditation as a DME and started courting insurers. “I thought my business was in jeopardy,” she says. “Who’s going to buy a pump when they can get it for free?”

Since the beginning of this year, when the breast pump benefit kicked in, Cole has increased her head count to 17 workers and rented space for a call center, so she could sell nationwide. The strategy is working: Cole, whose company became a DME last year, says she’s selling hundreds of breast pumps a week. “A lot of the DMEs are focused on the elderly and the sick,” she says. “They sell things like oxygen tanks and hospital beds. All we do is breast pumps, and that’s been a great proposition.”

The implementation of the benefit hasn’t been without hitches. Joy Kosak already had a breastfeeding business—she’s the cofounder of a Sacramento (Calif.)-based company called Simple Wishes, which sells hands-free pumping bras—when the new benefit took effect. She launched a new business called Pumping Essentials in November with two employees, waded through the red tape required to open a DME, and teamed up with her first insurer in April. She now has seven workers and says she’s selling about 300 breast pumps a month.

“The language is so vague that it’s being interpreted many different ways by providers,” Kosak says. That means some insurers will only pay for rental or manual pumps. Others have said that it takes weeks to fill out required paperwork, and some insurers have told women that pumps are not covered at all, according to a policy paper published last month by the U.S. Breastfeeding Committee.

Supply has also been a problem. Medela, a major supplier of breast pumps to U.S. hospitals, has increased production of its consumer models by 50 percent to meet demand. That isn’t enough to stop Kosak from worrying about future shortages. Currently, she says, she pre-orders five months worth of inventory to reduce the risk of running out of stock.

Part of the problem is that many DMEs didn’t offer breast pumps until this year, which means they lack historical data to forecast demand, says Rachel Mennell, a spokeswoman for Medela: “After the first year, I think everyone will be able to do a better job forecasting.”

Originally published at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-08-26/obamacare-encourages-baby-boutiques-to-bet-on-breast-pumps

Posted to In the News by Soledad Toboso

More than nutrition

Aug 20, 2013 12:33:28 PM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: Mothers are often surprised when their growing baby is feeding just as much as they did in the early months. It's important to remember that breastfeeding is more than just a means to acquire food. As your growing baby becomes more aware of his surroundings and is exposed to new experiences, breastfeeding remains a familiar activity, and therefore a comforting one. The numerous experiences of being close to his mother - hearing her voice, smelling her unique scent, receiving the comfort of her warm milk and the biologically specific components of human milk - all work in unison to create the ideal environment for the development and healthy growth of a baby. It's no wonder that breastfeeding is often referred to as a total package mothering tool. http://yummymummystore.com/blog/ Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Pumping and Supply

Aug 13, 2013 10:20:58 AM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: Mothers are often advised to pump after feedings in order to establish good milk supply. Although this may make sense for some, (because stimulation usually means more supply), pumping after every feed can actually can create an oversupply of breastmilk in many moms. An oversupply can make it very difficult for a baby to nurse (overflowing milk and breasts so engorged that nipples can flatten) and cause the mother to feel engorged and uncomfortable. Pumping after feedings may be advisable for some mothers but certainly not for all. It is always best to consult a Board Certified Lactation Consultant for concerns regarding milk supply. http://yummymummystore.com/blog/ Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Feeding Frequency

Aug 8, 2013 11:13:31 AM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: After the first few months, you may be surprised that your baby is not nursing as frequently as the early months, which may lead you to question whether something is going on. Well as babies grow and become more efficient with nursing they don't need to be at the breast as often. Feeding frequency varies from baby to baby and is partly dependent on the mother's breast storage capacity (http://yummymummystore.com/blog/Breast-storage-capacity/). But no need to worry - efficiency is usually the driver of your baby's less frequent feeds. http://yummymummystore.com/blog/ Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Nursing On Cloud Nine

Aug 6, 2013 12:36:39 PM

When Yummy Mummy founder Amanda Cole first started breastfeeding her now 5-year-old daughter, she ran into a few roadblocks. The products and supplies that she needed were scattered from store to store and across various websites, and she felt she didn’t have the support she needed. Getting acclimated with the complex choreography of baby feeding was a stressful experience for the first-time mom; so stressful, in fact, that she broke down in tears one day after realizing she purchased the wrong type of breast pump.

“My whole experience with getting breastfeeding products was so difficult. I thought, ‘Breastfeeding is hard enough. There has to be an easier way,’” remembers Cole, who also nursed her second child.

Cole made it her mission to help other breastfeeding mothers like herself and opened Yummy Mummy on the Upper East Side in May of 2009. With clear, user-friendly displays, knowledgeable staff members, and a welcoming environment, the boutique is dedicated to making breastfeeding a positive experience for women.

“There are oftentimes unexpected hurdles along the way,” Cole says. “And we’re just there to help and not judge—and to be support for you.”

Cole likes to refer to the store as a “one-stop shop” that has everything new or expectant moms need for breastfeeding, all conveniently located in one place. While about 80% of the products are geared toward breastfeeding moms—including breast pumps, nursing pillows, and nursing bras—Yummy Mummy offers items to suit just about any new mom’s needs, such as bottles, postpartum care products, and maternity clothing.

But you won’t find rattles or playmats on the shelves.

“A lot of the time I’ll get manufacturers who come and pitch different baby products,” Cole says. “[But] we try to stay true to it being all about mom.”

A great breastfeeding experience is about more than just the right supplies, of course. Having support and encouragement is just as important. In addition to providing all of the gear and equipment that moms need for breastfeeding, Yummy Mummy also offers various types of classes. Some of the more popular ones are Childbirth Preparation, Baby Safety & CPR, and Doula Speed Dating, in which expectant women meet five to ten doulas in one session, making the search for a labor coach relatively quick and easy.

The store’s most well-attended class, however, is the obvious choice: “A lot of moms have met their closest friends at our Breastfeeding Support Group,” Cole says. “They come here; their babies are the exact [same] age. They bond, they see each other weekly, and then they leave and go for lunch. I think some really nice friendships have formed.”

Although the store opened during the recession, the business has been steadily growing over the past four years. One recent boon for business has been the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law last summer. The ACA requires that health insurance plans cover women’s preventative services, which includes breast pumps, breast pump supplies, counseling, and support. In fact, Yummy Mummy recently opened a call center—also on the Upper East Side—where they receive orders and ship breast pumps across the country every day.

“We’ve been working closely with different insurance plans to provide breast pumps to moms all over the country,” Cole says. By partnering with various companies, Yummy Mummy has made pumps more easily accessible through Aetna Health Insurance, Blue Shield – CA, Cigna, EmblemHealth (GHI and HIP), Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Lifewise, POMCO Group, and Premera Blue Cross—with plans to further expand in the near future.

While she spends a lot of time finding new and helpful products for moms, Cole says her favorite part of her job is still working with her clientele. “We have the best customers,” she says. “They’re so appreciative of all the services and products that we offer, and that makes us feel really good.”

Having eventually achieved breastfeeding bliss with both of her own children, Cole knows how important it is for a new mother to be supported through such a delicate choice. To that end, Cole says that Yummy Mummy’s focus always remains on the individual: the mom who needs some advice on what kind of breast pump to buy or how she can get her newborn to feed more efficiently.

“My biggest priority is just maintaining the same level of customer service that we’ve always had,” she adds. “I think that’s really what defines us.”

Read More »
Posted to In the News by The Administrator

Oral Development

Jul 30, 2013 10:55:35 AM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: Pediatricians advise parents to wean their baby off the bottle by the end of the first year, in part, because long-term bottle drinking can damage a baby's teeth. The one-year recommendation is not applicable to breastfeeding. In fact, among many other benefits, a longer duration of breastfeeding is linked to better oral development. During breastfeeding the unique motion performed by the tongue and jaw help to ensure that the palate develops in a rounded U-shape, which allows for proper teeth alignment. Having a U-shaped palette also decreases the likelihood of snoring and sleep apnea later on in life. http://yummymummystore.com/blog/ Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Nipple Cleaning

Jul 23, 2013 10:59:33 AM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: When showering, plain water is sufficient to keep the nipple and areola clean. During lactation, natural oils are secreted from the tiny glands on the areola which prevent bacteria from breeding. Soaps can mask or remove the natural oils, which the infant uses as a way to locate the breast. In addition, rubbing some expressed milk on the nipple and air-drying after nursing is also beneficial thanks to breastmilk's anti-infective properties. http://yummymummystore.com/blog/ Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Prolactin Levels

Jul 16, 2013 4:06:17 PM

Boob Scoop

Although it may seem more manageable to pump one breast at a time, double pumping tends to yield more milk since a mother's Prolactin levels are highest when both breasts are stimulated. Another way to boost your Prolactic level? Nurse your baby on one side while you pump the other breast. This tip is especially helpful for moms whose babies feed from one breast per feeding. The breastmilk accumulated from the pumped side can be saved to build an emergency stash in your freezer.

Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)Read More »
Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Nighttime Feeding

Jul 9, 2013 2:07:48 PM

Boob Scoop

Nighttime feeds are very important for informing the breasts how much milk to make for the next day. The level of a mom's milk-making hormone Prolactin is highest between 2AM and 6AM. This means that if your baby nurses during the night, it will help you release high levels of Prolactin in the night, which will result in more milk the next day. Here are a few other great points that may help you view night feedings in a more positive light. http://breastfeedchicago.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/5-cool-things-no-one-ever-told-you-about-nighttime-breastfeeding/

Sharen Medrano, Yummy Mummy Support Group IBCLC (www.nycbreastfeeding.com)

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

Spit Up!

Jul 2, 2013 10:32:37 AM

Boob Scoop

Boob Scoop: Almost all babies will spit up after some feedings. If your breastfed baby is gaining weight well and has good urine and stool output (6-8 wet ones and at least 3 bowel movements in 24 hours; in babies over 6 weeks old, fewer bowel movements are normal), then spitting up is more of a laundry problem than a medical issue. Most healthy babies will outgrow the spitting up stage within 4-6 months. For tips on how to minimize spit up and to help determine if the spitting up is, in fact, NOT just a laundry problem, check out this helpful link: http://kellymom.com/health/baby-health/reflux/

Posted to Boob Scoop by Mary Ausman

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