Tucked within the Affordable Care Act is a provision requiring insurance companies to cover breast pumps. Insurers must pay for the new benefit, but the law doesn’t specify whether insurers must cover certain brands or types of breast pumps. It directs health plans to pay for “the costs of renting breastfeeding equipment.” Some insurance companies have agreed to pay the costs of buying a personal pump, instead of renting a “hospital-grade unit, as the costs may be less. But, mothers scrambling to find the pump they want may have a difficult time, as demand has soared since the provision went into effect.

Kathryn S. Daws-Kopp, an electrical engineer at FDA, explains that all breast pumps consist of a few basic parts: a breast shield that fits over the nipple, a pump that creates a vacuum to express the milk, and a detachable container for collecting the milk. There are three basic kinds of pump: manual, battery-powered, and electric, as well as double pumps or single ones.

FDA’s website has a new section that offers resources and information on breast pumps, including information on the selection and care of the pumps, in addition to describing signs of an infection or injury related to their use. The site notes that women who rent breast pumps should request that all parts of their pump be cleaned, disinfected, and sterilized according to the manufacturer's directions.

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