Happy National Breastfeeding Month!

Woman breastfeeding with pump

Breastfeeding has benefits for both moms and babies. Our Better Beginnings program will support expecting members on their breastfeeding journeys.

August is National Breastfeeding Month — a month dedicated to awareness and advocacy of breastfeeding. We support our breastfeeding members through our Better Beginnings program, which is a benefit that any expecting member can take advantage of. “While in the Better Beginnings program, moms receive access to free resources and educational materials to help support their breastfeeding journey,” says Registered Nurse Case Manager Krystle Dunkling.

Benefits of Better Beginnings

When you enroll in our maternal health program, you’ll be partnered with one of our experienced Better Beginnings nurses and have access to benefits, including $125 for educational classes and a free breast pump.

Blue Cross member Joanna Champion took advantage of Better Beginnings during her recent pregnancy. "My nurse case manager was very helpful and kind,” says Joanna. “I knew she was there for any questions I had, and she was helpful in pointing me to local resources.”

Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastmilk is the ideal food for infants as it contains all the energy and nutrients they need. In addition to being one of the most effective ways to ensure a child’s health, it’s also important for the health of the mother. 
Mothers who breastfeed have a reduced risk of:

  • Breast Cancer
  • Ovarian Cancer

Infants who are breastfed have a reduced risk of: 

  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • Diabetes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 70% of infants in Vermont are breastfed at six months. While rates in Vermont are above average, there are still many mothers who are not breastfeeding. For some, breastfeeding can be difficult or painful. 

“The most common issues that we might hear about or see are latching and supply,” says Krystle. “We help to make sure that the member is set up with a lactation consultant to help provide them with guidance on ways to help improve those concerns.”

A lactation consultant is a health professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. Better Beginnings provides our members with a list of in-network lactation consultants that can come to their homes to provide post-partum lactation support.

“Lactation consultants are incredible,” Joanna says. “With my first child, I called her office desperate and sobbing because of how much we were struggling with breastfeeding.  She was immensely helpful in pushing us to keep working at it, and though it took time, we really hit our stride at six or seven weeks thanks to her.  With my second child, I called her just to get a second opinion on my son’s latch, and she was immediately like a warm friend who helped me feel confident about the direction we were taking.”

Joanna Champion and Baby
Joanna Champion working-from-home with her baby sleeping on her chest.

Breastfeeding Tips from Joanna 

  • Buy or borrow a few different types of nursing pillows to test what works best for you and your baby.  
  • Experiment with different positions and holds while nursing.
  • Have a little table or basket that stays next to where you nurse, especially in those early weeks.  Water and snacks are a must, nipple cream is often helpful, and a TV remote control is vital for those long cluster nursing nights.  (It’s also not a bad idea to have a few TV shows in mind that you’ve always wanted to marathon… I recommend a combination of highbrow prestige and trashy reality.)
  • If you’re a hot coffee or tea drinker, get a spill-proof travel mug. Open mugs of scalding liquid and breastfeeding squirmy babies are not a good combo!

Read more breastfeeding tips 

Check your coverage

Potentially the most important advice of all: Learn about your coverage.

“After I had my first son, I told the same thing to every single one of my pregnant friends having kids for the first time: take the time NOW to look through your insurance coverage and local options,” says Joanna. “If you’re a Blue Cross member and sign up with Better Beginnings, they can easily help you with this.”

If you have any questions about your coverage, you can log into the Member Resource Center or call the number on the back of your ID card. If you have any questions about Better Beginnings, please call (800) 247-2583.