By Katie Stacy
MUSC lactation consultants praise the new IRS ruling that grants a tax break for nursing mothers using breast pumps and other breast-feeding supplies.
Jeanne Barreira, certified nurse midwife and lactation consultant at MUSC, said this new change is exciting.
Many mothers will start to breast-feed, but find it difficult to continue past six to eight weeks when it's time to return to work. "It makes it hard for them to maintain their milk supply depending on if their employer supports breast-feeding. We do here at MUSC, however not a lot of employers do."
All the nurses in the perinatal services have been through breast-feeding training programs that include both the low and high-risk infant, she said. This is one part of the many things MUSC does to support the breast-feeding mother.
Employees who deliver at MUSC are given a breast pump kit, access to the lactation room on the first floor of the university hospital and Room 2101C in Ashley River Tower. Also if they have any problems, they can consult with lactation consultants.
Barreira said there are many benefits to breast-feeding. The breast milk provides babies with antibodies that will help provide protection against allergies, asthma and other respiratory illnesses, bacterial and viral infections, obesity and other ailments. It also benefits the nursing mother to help her avoid Type 2 diabetes, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and postpartum depression.
A Harvard Medical School study showed that $13 billion a year would be saved in heath care costs and prevent the premature deaths of 900 infants each year if 90 percent of mothers followed the standard medical advice of feeding infants only breast milk for the first six months.
The new ruling means that families can use pretax funds from their flexible spending accounts and health savings accounts for pumps and other supplies. Most quality breast pumps cost anywhere from $250 to $350 and do not include the kit, which costs about $50, and other paraphernalia that can all total up to $1,000 in one year. This tax cut gives more women the opportunity to breast-feed their children for a longer duration which provides many health benefits for the mother and child. This is consistent with the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation that mothers should breast-feed for one year.
Lactation consultant Jeanne Barreira, right, demonstrates how the breast pump works to new mom, Meredith Strehle.
Meredith Strehle, manager in the Children's Hospital and Perinatal Services, is a new mother who bought her pump and received her tax break. "Pumps make it very convenient for working mothers to provide the best nutritional source for their child and have a full-time career at the same time."
For information on lactation consultants go to http://www.muschealth.com/women/lactation/.
For information on the lactation room go to https://www.musc.edu/medcenter/lactation/pumping_room_guidelines.htm.