Breastfeeding can be tricky AF. Thanks to the ACA, more moms are figuring it out.

It seems like it should be the most natural thing in the world, but there’s a learning curve when it comes to breastfeeding — for both babies and moms.

Babies don’t always latch correctly, causing pain for mom and frustration for baby. And it's not always the sweet moment we see in the movies: Breasts can get engorged. Milk ducts can get clogged. Plus, learning to pump can be a challenge. And cracked nipples? Totally a thing.

I was extremely fortunate to have my mom — who also happened to be a professional lactation consultant — stay with me for two weeks after each of my babies was born. Her expertise and encouragement was crucial to my positive breastfeeding experience.


Not all women have that kind of support though. Many don’t have anything close to it.

Photo by Raul Arboleda/Getty Images.

But thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more moms now have access to professional lactation support services and equipment — and it’s making a big difference.  

Indiana University released the results of a study analyzing breastfeeding rates from 2009-2014 to see how the ACA’s 2012 policy change regarding lactation service coverage affected them. After Aug. 1, 2012, most insurance plans were required to cover breastfeeding services and supplies. The mandate also required large employers to provide time and space for breastfeeding mothers to pump.

The result? About 47,000 more babies were breastfed in one year after the policy change took effect. In addition, babies were breastfed for a few weeks longer on average. Average breastfeeding duration increased by 10%, and duration of exclusive breastfeeding increased by 21%.

Researcher Lindsey Bullinger of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs says those outcomes are encouraging. "The Affordable Care Act has had a significant, positive effect on breastfeeding,” she said, “and our findings show that many more mothers and many more children will likely lead healthier lives as a result."

It's no secret that President Obama was a fan of the ACA — and of babies. I'm sure he's pretty happy to hear about the results of this study.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza.

According to the study, the ACA lactation support appears to have especially benefited black moms, single moms, and moms with less education.

That's good news, as black moms have historically faced obstacles to breastfeeding and single moms are usually working moms.

Breastfeeding supplies can be expensive, and working moms need the support of employers in order to pump breastmilk at work. Having insurance companies cover supplies and lactation help, in addition to ensuring that women have time and space to pump at work, can help moms who want to breastfeed do so successfully for longer.

"Many of the economic burdens, such as the costs of buying a breast pump, may be greater for less educated or unmarried mothers," said Bullinger. "These are groups that historically have had lower breastfeeding rates, so the increases we found are especially welcome."

Supplies and support make a difference, especially for working moms. Ask any mom who's ever used a good breast pump. (Also, ask Ijeoma Oluo, who shared the best pumping-at-work story ever on Twitter.)

Not all moms breastfeed, of course — and that's their choice. But those interested in breastfeeding should be given all the support they need.

The ACA has been controversial from the start, and some may feel that mandating insurance companies to cover breastfeeding supplies and services is overstepping. But considering the health benefits breastfeeding offers mothers and babies, anything that removes obstacles and helps make breastfeeding easier for those who want to do it should be welcomed with open arms.

Photo by Johan Ordonez/Getty Images.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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via The Walt Disney Company / Flickr

One of the ways to tell if you're in a healthy relationship is whether you and your partner are free to talk about other people you find attractive. For many couples, bringing up such a sensitive topic can cause some major jealousy.

Of course, there's a healthy way to approach such a potentially dangerous topic.

Telling your partner you find someone else attractive shouldn't be about making them feel jealous. It's probably also best that if you're attracted to a coworker, friend, or their sibling, that you keep it to yourself.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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