One of the questions that I’m most asked is “if I know I’m planning for a baby, and I want to make sure I have insurance for my child, how do I go about getting health insurance?” This is a handy guide we’ve created for those of you looking to get insurance during open enrollment this year.

Open enrollment is a term that literally means open season for you on health insurance plans, especially if you opt to self-insure instead of, or in addition to, an employment-related plan. Here are some things you need to know to navigate this sometimes dangerous journey.

What happens during open enrollment?

Both state and private health care providers reassess their rates and premiums, and change prices of healthcare packages based on new laws or medical trends. Open enrollment is the time when you can purchase health insurance, or make changes according to your needs or the changes in the insurance package prices. It only happens once a year.

What’s the difference between a PPO and an HMO?

If you are looking to enroll for the first time or change healthcare providers, this is a relevant question. An HMO, or Health Maintenance Organization, has an existing network of participating hospitals and health care providers. A health insurance plan with an HMO will require you to choose a primary care physician (also called a PCP), and see specialists only within that existing network. A PPO, or Preferred Provider Organization, provides coverage without requiring you to choose a PCP, or stay within an existing network. However, you’ll find that in comparing HMOs and PPOs, its flexibility usually requires a higher premium than that of an HMO.

When am I eligible for open enrollment?

If your company has more than 50 employees in total, they should offer an open enrollment period. If you or your family buy health insurance directly from companies or from Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchanges, they also automatically offer a period of open enrollment.

What happens if I miss open enrollment for health insurance?

If you have chosen to auto-renew your health insurance plan every year, it will simply renew itself; with possible changes in the premium or the plan depending on the law or the marketplace. Otherwise, you may actually lose coverage. Your HR may have additional options, or you may attempt to enroll in Medicaid or a short-term health insurance plan. To avoid the confusion, it’s best to enroll during open enrollment.

Is Open Enrollment for Medicare?

Medicare, government-backed health insurance for seniors aged 65 and older, has separate enrollment periods. The main enrollment period is called the annual enrollment period and lasts from October 15th to December 7th each year. If you’re interested in Medicare and want a private plan, you should start by researching the difference between Medigap and Medicare Advantage.

What are deductibles and how do they work?

Not knowing how deductibles work could be costly to you, especially if you are or want to be self-insured. A deductible is an amount you have to pay out when something happens that requires health insurance. It is your out-of-pocket cost before the plan kicks in and you start receiving benefits. On one hand, it usually gives you higher insurance limits. On the other hand, if you’ve misjudged your budget, it may be heavy on the pocket when something arises. Ask explicitly about your health insurance plans deductibles if you self-insure.

What is an out-of-pocket maximum?

This is also called the out-of-pocket limit, and it protects you from paying more than you choose to budget for your deductibles and sometimes co-insurance. Co-insurance means you pay for a percentage of certain health costs. You can only set or change this, along with any deductibles and agreements on co-insurance, during open enrollment.

What is telemedicine and how can I add it to my plan?

Telemedicine is the growing branch of healthcare that allows medical diagnoses and follow-ups to be done over the phone or on a video call. Talking to a telemedicine operator may help you determine whether or not to go to a healthcare institution, or to seek specialized help. It can also help you with follow-ups so you don’t need to return to the institution. You may ask your healthcare provider if this can be added to your coverage during open enrollment.

Can I get coverage for preventive care?

Preventive care usually includes screening and tests that help in early diagnosis. The earlier a condition is caught, the sooner it can be treated, and the less it costs in the long run. Make sure to ask your healthcare provider if preventive care is included in the coverage, and how you can avail of it if possible. Many times preventive care is included but not specifically pointed out, so this will help you know when you can have check-ups and screenings for free.

What is a qualifying life event?

Aside from open enrollment, there are times when you can apply for health insurance during special enrollment. Special enrollment opens when you experience a life change that affects your insurance or that of your family, called a qualifying life event. These include change or loss of employment, additions to the family through marriage or birth, age (turning 26), or change of address.

Who qualifies as my dependent?

Under your employee health coverage, your family members can be registered as long as you declare them. These include spouses, domestic partners (if the employer allows), and biological, adopted, or foster children until they are 26 years old. If allowed, they can be registered through special employment. Otherwise, it’s best to do all the registration you need to do during open enrollment.

Your baby’s nursery certainly lies on your crafty hands. There are tons of ideas about designing a newborn’s room, furniture to include, and equipment or essentials needed for mom and baby. Aside from the aesthetic concerns of making a newborn’s room cute and comfy by matching colorful palettes and cartoon character details – safety and comfort still comes as top priority on every parent’s checklist.

Check out the Top Baby Equipment and Essentials that Should be in Every Newborn’s Room

Cribs or Bassinets

This is one of the first items that you need to put inside your newborn’s room. Don’t go for anything that’s just fancy or colorful – buy a crib for its durability, comfort, and safety. Whether you have a new crib or hand-me-downs, you should check every detail and make sure that it is safe and comfortable for your baby to sleep on. Get a firm mattress to match your crib. Make sure that it fits snugly to avoid suffocation incidents. Check the side rails, hardware, and screws to make sure everything is in place and there are no damages whatsoever.


Breastfeeding Pillow

If you are breastfeeding your newborn, this will definitely come handy especially for first time moms who are still trying to get into the groove of ensuring the right latch. Using the breastfeeding pillow ensures that you are providing the right support for your baby while nursing. This also offers different levels of support when you are handling your baby or breastfeeding as it has a soft and firm side. This keeps your baby in the proper height and angle when nursing to keep you both in a comfortable position.


Investing in a cool-mist humidifier is a must for every newborn’s room. It provides your baby a healthy, fresh, and well-moistened environment that combats the dry air and eradicates pollutants as well as harmful microbes in the air. More so, having a humidifier provides that white noise which soothes baby and helps with promoting long restful sleep. Check out this best humidifier for a baby based on user reviews.

Baby Monitor

Having a baby monitor helps you with juggling chores around the house while keeping an eye on your baby. A monitor that has two receivers is convenient as you can put one in the bedroom and another in the kitchen or your home office so you can multitask effectively while keeping your baby monitored all throughout the day so you can see whether he or she needs to change nappies or wants to breastfeed.

Burp Clothes

You can use this as a no-fuss must-have for burping and cleaning up your newborn. These are very inexpensive when bought in bulk. Cloth diapers can also function as burp clothes. Baby clothes that are well-fitting to your newborn’s size must also be easy to attach and remove to provide convenience and comfort for your little ones.

Breast Pumps and Accessories

It’s definitely a good thing that the Affordable Care Act now covers the rental and purchase of breast pumps and its accessories. Avoid using hand-me-downs when choosing breast pumps to avoid any health problems in the future.  Whether you opt for electric or hand-operated breast pumps, you should always consider what works for you and your baby’s needs. Using breast pumps help you nourish your baby with breast milk even when you are out for an errand or off to work.


Being a mom is said to be both a gift and a privilege. Your baby deserves the best from the very first day of life. Breastfeeding your baby is the optimal choice to ensure health and cultivate bonding between a mother and her newborn. Make use of the above checklist to know what nursery items must be put in high priority on your newborn’s room.

There is nothing as pure and serene than the sight of a mom nursing her baby to sleep. Breastfeeding is the cornerstone of life as it shapes a baby’s present and future from day one. Valuing life is the epitome of breastfeeding and it is definitely worth celebrating. It’s the World’s Breastfeeding Week for 2016 and it has the slogan which promotes breastfeeding as the key to achieving sustainable development goals.

World Breastfeeding Week 2016

How is sustainability linked to breastfeeding? Sustainable development construes improvement that meets the present needs of this generation without halting or putting risk on meeting the needs of the future generation. This revolves on three aspects – equity, ecology, and economy. Breastfeeding is said to provide optimum nourishment for babies while also impressing upon emotional and psychological bond between mothers and their babies. In this case, breastfeeding is indeed the key to sustainable development because it is integrated with the fulfillment of health, food and nutrition security, survival, and development that could span from generation to generation.

Breastfeeding is also an economic and environmentally friendly option for moms as compared to feeding from bottles. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for this year’s World Breastfeeding Week are focused primarily on ending malnutrition and hunger and promoting healthy well-being which is deeply anchored on breastfeeding as a sustainable option for both moms and babies. This also promotes and supports breastfeeding programs and affiliations all over the world.

US Breastfeeding Statistics

In the United States, breastfeeding has become increasingly popular and thus produced many advocates from moms who would want to exclusively breastfeed their babies before returning to work. In 2011, around 79% of newborns started breastfeeding. However, breastfeeding efforts for babies born in 2011 did not continue as recommended – 49% were breastfed for 6 months while 27% were breastfed for a year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) encourages and motivates more women to initiate and continue with breastfeeding their newborn babies. A number of breastfeeding programs and initiatives were in place like the Best Fed Beginnings (BFB) which supports skin-to-skin contact of baby and mom right after delivery. This helps new moms begin with breastfeeding and feel comfortable about the whole setup. More so, state child care regulations are also in full support of on-site breastfeeding. Breastfeeding communities are also in full bloom as health professionals like Board Certified Lactation Consultant (BCLC) and Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC) are in support of breastfeeding campaigns from the first day of life.

Breastfeeding moms have braved challenges and even made career shifts in order to make time for nursing their babies especially for the first year and is recommended to extend up to three years. There are long term health benefits associated with breastfeeding and even if it extends for like three years. While there are criticisms associated with extended breastfeeding, your instinct which is backed by modern science, will tell you that you are in fact doing the right thing for you and your little one. The immune functions are made stronger, brain development is optimized, and decreased infections are noted on extended breastfeeding which showcases more benefits that can counteract the criticisms around it.

Women’s roles have burgeoned over the years yet her beauty never waned a bit. Juggling household chores, running a business, and taking care of a baby is not an easy feat but moms have always managed to work things out– thanks to her innate organization skills.


Women are efficient with multitasking; and this is not a new concept at all. Interestingly, moms have actually been practicing this skill for centuries. Modern moms have revolutionized this concept by adding tweaks in technology that bolstered innovative ways to get things done.

Baby Steps

On the first few weeks, you have to focus on taking care of your baby; specifically with breastfeeding your newborn. You have to start breastfeeding early and regularly (right at birth). Nurse your baby on cue and as often as he or she needs it (approximately 6x to 8x a day). This will help you produce more milk and also avoid breast tenderness and engorgement which tend to be painful and can even cause mastitis.

Ask for help from your husband, family, and friends. You may be a superwoman, but even heroines need some help from time to time. Ask help with cooking meals or for shopping so you can focus on your baby’s needs. Also, take some time off when the baby is asleep. You can read a good book or relax in a tub so you can reenergize and recuperate from stress or fatigue.

When to Start Pumping

You can start pumping breastmilk around 2 weeks before you get back to working in the office again. The best time to express milk is early in the morning right after breakfast. During the first few days, there could be less milk expressed from your breasts but this is normal. Once your body has adjusted to the pumping mechanism, you’ll be able to fill more bottles for feeding.

Preparation for Getting Back to Work

Allow your baby to get adjusted to sucking from a feeding bottle. You can train a caregiver earlier as well so she can be comfortable with taking care of your baby while you’re at work. Train her on how to prepare and feed pumped milk to your baby. Here are some steps to do so:

  • Express or pump milk every day and label the bottles with dates so you’ll know when to discard them. Any milk leftovers for 24 hours must be discarded immediately.
  • Freeze small amounts of milk in bottles.
  • Thaw these in the fridge at night so they’ll be ready for warming and feeding for baby.

Get to know your caregiver and instruct her on what you expect from the working relationship. Tell her to hold your baby everytime during feedings. Write down instructions to make it clear and can be referred back to at anytime. Try posting instructions on the wall of the baby’s room so she won’t forget schedules and daily routine for taking care of the baby.

Get to know your breast pump. Breast pumps come in several basic types – Electric, Single, Double-sided, Battery-operated, and Manual. The best breast pump for working moms are electric breast pumps because it is made of high-quality and durable materials and can be adjusted depending on desired suction strength and cycling speed. Some of the top picks for breast pumps are the following:

  • Medela Pump-In-Style ($199 at Amazon) which has an optional Natural Expression or let-down mode. This also comes with functional and sophisticated carrying case which includes a cooler compartment and ice packs for storing milk.
  • Ameda Purely Yours ($287 at Amazon) – Durability- and performance-wise, this certainly has the same features with that of Medela Pump-In-Style. Suction strength and cycle speed can also be adjusted. Comes with a carrying case or tote.


Take your breast pump at work so you can express milk at least three times a day even in the workplace. Do it in mid-morning, lunch, and mid-afternoon. Around 15 to 20 minutes of pumping would be enough for each breast. There are specialized lactation lounges in large offices or you can pump milk in your own office (just make sure to keep it locked for privacy).

Breastfeed your baby early in the morning before you prepare for work. You can also let the caregiver bring your baby for office visits in the afternoon. Working part-time or shorter hours during weekdays would be convenient for working moms who choose to breastfeed. Talk to your employer about work options now that you advocate breastfeeding while working.

Today, moms have formed an alliance with breast pumps in the effort to nurse their babies even when working. While on maternity leave, consider every small step that you are doing is a prelude to being a working mom who is devoted to breastfeeding with the aid of breast pumps.

In 2014, the Rhode Island General Assembly authorized the Department of Health director to create a framework for the licensing of lactation consultants. In 2015, IBCLC Michael W. Fink of Memorial Hospital was first in the United States to be state-licensed to practice as an IBCLC. This is a breakthrough for IBCLCs all over the United States.

Isn’t My IBCLC Certificate Enough?

While the title IBCLC after your name gives you credibility, you are competing with a range of healthcare professionals and even lay people who may call themselves lactation consultants. Usually, state license guidelines and regulations clearly define who or who many not call him or herself a lactation consultant. This protects mothers from non-IBCLCs who call themselves lactation consultants, and also protects the IBCLC profession from unfair negativity caused by unqualified lactation consultants.

What Will A State License Do For Me?

The certificate you receive after completing the requirements to be an IBCLC only tells people you are qualified to practice what the certificate says you can practice. A license, however, can only be given by a government board. It means that the government has set a framework of rules and regulations for your profession that you need to comply with.

A license tells the people you work with that you are operating with the tacit approval of the government, and that you are accountable to a regulatory body for your practice. This converts the IBCLC profession into a credible part of the health professional network.

State Licenses Restrict the Use of the Term ‘Lactation Consultant’

Any person can research the requirements of an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) and find out how qualified any IBCLC is. Other healthcare professionals, volunteers, or lay people are not equally qualified. However, they can still use the term “lactation consultant.” State licensure would mean that the term was restricted only to a very specific group of people with certain qualifications. They may even require the IBCLC title.

State Licenses Allow Reimbursement Under Insurance Plans

The Affordable Care Act is a blessing to working mothers everywhere, and to the IBCLCs who help them. However, it does not define what kind of lactation consultant may be reimbursed under the Act. Other insurance providers, both private and those such as Medicaid, will only allow reimbursement of licensed healthcare professionals. This painfully limits the number of mothers who may wish to go to an IBCLC, but are not sure how the reimbursement will work out. A license will increase the number of mothers consulting IBCLCs.

State Licenses Require Accountability

Although regulatory bodies are often a pain, this is actually a good thing. Regulatory bodies make sure that unqualified healthcare providers cannot call themselves “lactation consultants” and hurt both the mothers and the IBCLC profession. IBCLCs will also find it easier to enter and defend their own practices with state licenses. The regulatory body also gives the IBCLCs automatic status among other healthcare professionals.

State Licensing Would Help the IBCLC Profession

The US Lactation Consultant Association is pushing for states to create the necessary regulatory frameworks that would award licenses to IBCLCs. At the moment, only Rhode Island has given out a state license. Other states are in the process of developing the required licenses. If it is at all possible to gain a state license, it would be the best thing as an IBCLC.

Fox News posted an article this week entitled: 12 surprising facts about breastfeeding new moms should know. I found that the information in this article did include surprising facts about breastfeeding; therefore, I felt it worth sharing.

1. Breast milk isn’t always white.
Breast milk is usually white or cream-colored, but it can also be green, blue, yellow, or orange. You might also notice that it’s thicker one day and more watery the next. Either way, it’s perfectly normal and nothing to be worried about, said Sara Chana Silverstein, an international board-certified lactation consultant, master herbalist and creator of the Savvy Breastfeeding app.

breastfeeding-in-public2. One breast will produce more.
Just like one of your hands is bigger, your breasts are probably different sizes too. So one may outperform the other, but it doesn’t mean you won’t have enough milk for your baby. Nevertheless, always start feeding on the side that you finished with last time to try to equal the two out.

“We want the same type of stimulation to help with production,” said Cindy Shelton, a registered nurse and an international board-certified lactation consultant at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, Calif.

3. You may feel outrageously large.
It’s not a look you’re going for as a new mom, but get ready for your breasts to be engorged and larger than they have ever been, especially in the beginning.

“Milk increases in volume that third to fifth day and it does it with a vengeance,” Shelton said.

How large your breasts get really depend on your skin’s elasticity. And as your baby gets older and you’re feeding less frequently, they won’t be as engorged. When you stop breastfeeding, your breasts may end up smaller or bigger than before you were pregnant.

4. Breast milk doesn’t only come out of your nipple.
Since there are approximately 15 to 25 milk ducts in each breast that make milk, there are several pores in each breast where milk comes out of, not just the single hole in your nipple.

5. You’ll leak— especially when you least expect it.
Stock up on breast pads, ladies! Especially in the beginning, when your baby (or even another baby) cries, your breasts will let down on both sides. It may also happen when you look at your baby, at his photo, or when it’s time for a feeding.

6. Sex might be painful.
Lack of estrogen can cause vaginal dryness and make intercourse painful. Use a water-based lubricant or talk to your OB/GYN about ways to cope.

7. You could have too much milk.
Some women have a strong milk ejection reflex that causes breast milk to come out quickly and spray everywhere. Some babies even choke because they can’t keep up with the flow. Talk to your lactation consultant about techniques that can help slow down the flow.

emotional-rollercoaster8. You might go on an emotional roller coaster.
Oxytocin, the hormone that contracts the muscles in your milk ducts to let down milk will make you feel calm and relaxed, even sleepy. Yet some women with a strong milk ejection reflex may also experience nausea, weakness, sweating and anxiety because of the intense hormonal shift, Silverstein said. Some women may also experience intense thirst and may need to add minerals to their water. Speak to your lactation consultant about ways to cope.

9. You don’t need extra calcium.
Drinking milk won’t help you make milk, yet breastfeeding may cause your bones to shrink. The good news is that once you stop breastfeeding, experts say bone density returns. What’s more, studies show that breastfeeding can prevent osteoporosis. The National Academy of Sciences recommends breastfeeding moms get 1,000 milligrams of calcium each day from dairy, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Weight-bearing exercises can prevent osteoporosis as well.

10. An orgasm can make your breasts leak.
Since oxytocin, the hormone responsible for milk letdown is the same released when you orgasm, you could spring a leak at the most inopportune time. A bra with breast pads and a sense of humor can go a long way.

“There’s no need to be embarrassed—many women experience it,” Shelton said.

11. You can eat more and still lose weight.
Your body needs between 300 and 500 extra calories a day for breastfeeding. Yet instead of worrying that you’re eating enough, just listen to your body and the pounds should melt off in no time.
“Feed your hunger and you’ll find that you’re eating those extra calories,” Shelton said.

12. Your period may stop.
If you’re exclusively breastfeeding— no bottles (even with pumped milk) or pacifiers— and you’re feeding on demand, chances are you won’t have your period, Shelton said. Some women will get their periods back six weeks after delivery, when they start to wean, or not until they’ve stopped breastfeeding altogether. Even if you don’t have your period, it doesn’t mean you’re not ovulating so be sure to use birth control if you’re not planning to have another baby any time soon.

I hope you enjoyed these surprising facts about breastfeeding!

I know that there is a difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding. You know that there is a difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding. But, most importantly, most mothers don’t know the difference between the two–and believe me there is a difference. In a recently published article, by Pacific Standard Magazine, entitled The Unseen Consequences of Pumping Breast Milk, multiple lactation consultant experts explain not only the difference between the two, but express what trained lactation consultants should be doing differently (in ways of assisting mothers in both technique and education).

breast-milk-feeding-and-breastfeedingAs with all students–and that’s what mothers are…students–different students have distinctive ways in which they learn. It is important, as their teacher, that you ensure that they grasp the difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding.

In the aforementioned article, Virginia Thorley, a lactation consultant and honorary research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, worries about the perils of “misleading” mothers, in regards to promoting “breast-milk feeding as identical to breastfeeding.” She believes that the biggest gap between the student and teachers is using terms both accurately and in a way that the mothers can understand.

“The new challenge is to use language accurately, and tell mothers the truth that feeding their milk to their babies by bottle is less than equivalent to breastfeeding.” — Virginia Thorley

Another concern that Thorley has is that when a baby breastfeeds, it isn’t just about the milk–it is about security, nurturing, nutrition, and bonding with the mother. She isn’t wrong; a 2010 study proved that babies that were exclusively fed pumped beast-milk were two times more likely to consume too much breast-milk, affecting their growth rate. Additionally, there are other studies that prove that infants who were not directly breastfed have a significant increase in both coughing and wheezing episodes in comparison to those that were breastfed.

The science doesn’t lie. It is important that as a lactation consultant, you aren’t just enforcing breast-milk, but that you are explaining to mothers the difference between breast-milk feeding and breastfeeding.