Virginia Beach, Va. - Beach mom and Navy veteran Robyn Roche-Paull has become the unofficial active duty breastfeeding guru. She's answering questions from anxious new moms who are fighting for their country while trying to meet the needs of a newborn.
“I get them from all over— Korea, Germany, Australia, the UK,” says Paull.
Having been on active duty while breastfeeding her first child, Robyn knows firsthand how tough it can be to balance duty to family and country. She`s even written a book about it hoping to help new moms navigate this new territory.
“The planes need to be up and ready to fly, the Humvees need to be fixed, you`ve got a flight schedule you have to go by and moms got to figure out how to pump around that,” says Paull.
Right now, moms not only have to figure out when to pump, but how they`re going to pay for the breast pump and supplies. While all branches of service except the Army have a breastfeeding policy for active duty moms, surprisingly the military`s health insurance TRICARE doesn`t cover the cost of breast pumps like most civilian health insurance companies do.
“This kind of snuck under the radar that breast pumps and lactation services were not covered,” says Paull.
This was surprising to active duty Navy mom Taylor Smith, who wanted to know more about her rights as a breastfeeding mom. She found out about Robyn`s website and Facebook page through word of mouth.
“I did go to some classes beforehand. They had a breastfeeding basics class and breastfeeding for working moms class, and that was helpful to ensure I knew what to get, but at the same time it is costly,” says Paull.
Breast pumps run about $150.00 for the pump alone and currently not subsidized by TRICARE.
But help is on the way. A new bill was just signed late last year authorizing TRICARE to cover breastfeeding supplies. We contacted TRICARE to find out when this new law would go into effect.
The chief of TRICARE’s media operations responded saying, “The Defense Health Agency and the TRICARE Health Plan are actively developing a plan to allow TRICARE to cover these important supplies and services for new mothers. We expect to complete the new policy within the next few months.”
The statement went on to say that new moms should keep receipts and they may be eligible to be reimbursed for their supplies once the act takes effect, which is something Taylor will take advantage of.
But in the meantime, Robyn is very willing to help Taylor and other new moms who want to breastfeed and serve their country.
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