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How to Score a Breast Pump for FREE

When I was pregnant, someone told me to check with my insurance company to see if it provided breast pumps. I was skeptical, and I figured I’d just have to shell out the $200-$300 needed for a quality pump. However, I did some research on the Affordable Care Act and realized that it was quite possible to get a free pump.  The process was kind of annoying, but it was definitely worth the trouble, because in the end,  I did not pay a single penny for my breast pump.

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I started out by calling my insurance company. The first thing they told me was that I had to wait until January 1, 2013. This wasn’t a huge deal to me, because Porter was due on Christmas Eve (born on December 28th) and I knew that most likely I wouldn’t need the pump right away. The second thing I was told was that I COULD get a breast pump for free, but they would only provide a manual pump, which would not really be worth the trouble of getting (in my opinion). Sure, free is free, but I doubted a manual pump was going to cut it. I knew I was going to need a high powered electric (double) pump when I returned to work. I asked the woman on the phone a few more questions and she said it was up to my employer and what specific insurance plan my employer selected. Some policies agreed to provide manual pumps and some agreed to provide electric pumps. I was bummed and thought I was out of luck.

However, I did not give up. The woman I talked to did not seem entirely confident in the answer she gave me, so I doubted whether or not I should accept her answer. I waited a few days and then called again, in hopes of speaking to a different person.  The second woman I spoke with looked up my policy and then told me there was no way for me to to know prior to January 1 if I would get a pump or not. Basically–according to her– it was up to my employer and it would depend on what insurance policy they chose to renew at the start of the calendar year. She said I could call back after January 1 to inquire. I was a bit annoyed. I knew that when January 1 arrived that I would have others things—um, like a baby–to worry about.

I almost decided to forget about the whole thing, but I contacted the woman in charge of our benefits for my school district. I told her about the two previous encounters I had and I asked her if she had any contact people at the insurance company who could give her a firm answer.  She said she’d look into it and get back to me.

She emailed me the next day and told me that yes, I could get a breast pump, and not just any breast pump, but a double electric pump. I would have to wait until after January 1, though, and I also needed to get the pump from a medical supplier (in my insurance network). She also instructed me to get a prescription for the breast pump from my OBGYN.  The prescription would serve as proof that I really needed it. I did some homework and called all the medical suppliers in my area and found one that carried the type of pump I wanted (most of the medical suppliers didn’t even have ANY breast pumps, let alone the type I was interested in.)

Porter was born, and a few days later I managed to shower and put yoga pants on and went to the medical supplier with my prescription in hand. I imagined I’d walk out of there with a brand new breast pump, but it seems I had more hoop to jump through.  When my doctor wrote the prescription, it was before Porter was born. The prescription literally said “Patient is pregnant. May require breast pump.” I gave the medical supplier my prescription.

The woman said, “Oh, you’re still pregnant? You’re pregnant now?”

Despite the fact that my belly did still look a little pregnant-like, I couldn’t help but to feel a little offended. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn my MATERNITY yoga pants, I thought to myself. I looked down at Porter in his car seat and looked back at the woman. “No, I’m not pregnant now. I already had the baby.”

“But it says ‘patient is pregnant.’ ”

“Well, she wrote it when I WAS pregnant.” I thought this was obvious.

I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal, but I could tell this was going to be a problem.  She called someone (I think it was someone from the claim department of my insurance company) and then told me that she couldn’t give me the breast pump because of the way the prescription was written.  She then said she would call my OBGYN and verify my need for the breast pump even though I wasn’t still pregnant. I thought having the baby right there with me was proof enough, but I guess not. Maybe she thought I borrowed someone else’s baby in order to snag a breast pump, but why someone would want a breast pump unless she really needed one is beyond me. She sent me on my way and said she would call me when she knew something. Again, I was a little annoyed.

The next day she called me back and said that my OBGYN verified the prescription. She then had to make another call back to the claim department, but she finally told me that I could come back in to pick up the breast pump.  The following day I returned to the medical supplier and picked up my breast pump. I was pumped (no pun intended) to have finally figured all this out, and I guess my persistence paid off.

The pump I received is a double electric pump. It has plenty of power, gets the job done, and  is almost identical to the Medela Pump In Style, except the bag that I have isn’t quite as fancy as the Pump In Style. [By the way, why is it called the “Pump In Style”? I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to pump one’s boobs stylishly.]

So, long story short, if you’re pregnant and you plan on using a breast pump, check with your insurance before purchasing one. While my experience was a tad tedious and cumbersome, a friend of mine (whom I work with, so she has the same insurance) had absolutely zero problems when she went through the process a few months after I did.

On a similar note, if you don’t have insurance or if your insurance doesn’t provide a pump, I personally do not think there is a problem with borrowing a pump from a friend or family member. I know this isn’t recommended and supposedly it voids the warranty, but if you purchase separate parts for the pump and do not use the original parts, I don’t see why this would be a problem. Obviously this is a personal decision, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in there.

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Mommy and Baby Books

I’ve read a lot of “mommy” books, some of which I don’t care to recommend, because they were just average or just like another book I had already read. I decided to choose my top 6 and give my thoughts on each.

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Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? by Jena Pincott

All pregnant women should read this book WHILE pregnant. I have no idea why, but I found this book to be extremely fascinating. It has a lot of science and medical terminology, but it doesn’t read like a medical journal or anything like that. It’s been awhile since I read this (a year-ish), but I remember LOVING the section on gender. Since we did not find out the sex of Porter ahead of time, I really enjoyed reading about the different theories on gender. I loaned my copy out and I’ve recommended it to several people. Many of those people have come back and told me how much they loved this book, too!

Why Have Kids? By Jessica Valenti

This book could probably be viewed as controversial to many–because there are a lot of touchy/taboo subjects–but I found it to be such a refreshing read. The author discusses many “truths” and “lies” about parenting/motherhood. One of the sections I appreciated the most was a section detailing her views on breastfeeding and formula feeding. I 100% agree with her opinion on the matter: “It’s more important that your child is happy and nurtured than that they’re fed with breast milk.”  I would 100% recommend this book to any parent, but especially mothers. (To my English teacher friends, I have no idea how to properly cite a quote from a book read on a Kindle. While I could probably look this up, I’m not writing this to impress anyone, so please forgive my lack of MLA in-text citations.)

The Milk Memos by Cate Colburn Smith and Andrea Serrette

I would only recommend this book to women who a) are breastfeeding or are planning to breastfeed and b) who have to work outside of the home. This book is basically a collection of journals that some women wrote to one another while pumping at work. It was almost like a secret society of sorts, but the women wrote honestly about the struggles of working + breastfeeding. A good friend bought this for me within a few days of Porter being born and I read this during night time feedings.  If I’m being honest with myself, I admit that my first several weeks of breastfeeding were terrible not great, and I was close to quitting several times. This book provided me with a lot of comfort. It also helped me to mentally prepare for going back to work, even though I knew it was several weeks away.

Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn by Melanie Shankle

I really enjoyed this book. Shankle’s writing is so friendly and I could relate to so many sections of her book. I would recommend this to women who already have kids, though (and not people who are just pregnant without other children.) While this is of course a personal preference, I do not think I would have enjoyed the book as much if I would have read it prior to having Porter. I would not have been able to relate. I loved her description of the emotions that motherhood provides: “Even if we’ve dreamed of having babies of our own, there is nothing that prepares us for the way that moment cracks open our hearts and pours in the type of pure love we never knew existed. A love that isn’t about us but is just about wanting to love and protect this little, helpless person who will emit all manner of bodily fluids on us if given half the chance. You can’t fathom it until you experience it.” I couldn’t have explained it any better!

I was a Really Good Mom Before I had Kids by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile

I read this book within my first few weeks of motherhood, and I found it to be extremely comforting and funny. Even though I was a brand new mom, I could relate to many of the anecdotes detailed in the book, and I ended up recommending it to many friends (in fact, two friends had recommended it to me!) I loved this book’s honesty: “When you’re a mother, nobody’s saying, ‘You’re doing a great job; you’re so great; what initiative, mopping up that vomit!'”

I Just Want to Pee Alone (multiple authors)

This book is a collection of short essays about motherhood, each written by a different woman.  This book had me in tears–not sappy, I just watched The Notebook tears, but ohmygodthisisfreakinghilarious tears. Within the first few pages, I was laughing out loud uncontrollably. I will say that some of the authors were naturally funnier than others, but I really did enjoy the entire book. It’s quick (it could be read in a day’s time) and it is sure to brighten anyone’s day. Many of the essays had to do with older children, so it gave me a lot to look forward to, too.

For my other moms/parents out there: What other books should I read and add to my “mommy/baby” book list?

Also, if there’s a topic you’d like me to write a post about, please leave your idea in the comments section!