TRICARE Covers Doulas, Lactation Consultants, and Lactation Counselors
What You Need to Know About TRICARE Covering Labor Doulas and Lactation Consultants and Counselors
If you have ever given birth, you may already know how valuable a labor doula, lactation consultant, or lactation counselor can be. As a part of its 5-year Childbirth and Breastfeeding Support Demonstration, TRICARE began covering labor doulas, lactation consultants, and lactation counselors on January 1, 2022, as long as certain conditions are met.
- The care must be from labor doulas, lactation consultants, and lactation counselors who meet TRICARE certification requirements for their services to be covered.
- They won’t be offered at military hospitals and clinics.
- Beneficiaries will need to double-check to make sure if the provider they want to use is in-network or not.
- You should be able to nominate certain providers if yours is not in-network.
- You will not need to have a referral for services under this demonstration.
The Childbirth and Breastfeeding Support Demonstration’s purpose is to study the impact of adding these providers and services when it comes to the cost, quality of care, and maternal and fetal outcomes for the TRICARE population. This is required by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
Only labor doulas, often called birth doulas or even birth assistants qualify. Labor doulas are not medical personnel and can not provide medical assistance. They provide support and guidance to the pregnant woman and her family, preparing for labor, during the birth, and immediately after the baby is born.
In 2019, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) stated, “Evidence suggests that, in addition to regular nursing care, continuous one-to-one emotional support provided by support personnel, such as a doula, is associated with improved outcomes for women in labor.” In addition, the benefits of using a doula include possible shorter labor times, a decreased need for pain medication, fewer c-sections, and fewer reports of dissatisfaction with the experience of labor.
TRICARE will accept doulas who have been certified by:
- BirthWorks International
- Doulas of North America (DONA) International
- Childbirth and Postpartum Professional Association (CAPPA)
- International Childbirth Education Association (ICEA)
Breastfeeding Support, Lactation Consultants, and Lactation Counselors
According to TRICARE, “Lactation counselors have received specialized training to aid in breastfeeding and infant nutrition from breast milk, and generally provide breastfeeding counseling to support normal lactation and breastfeeding parents of healthy, full-term infants and Lactation consultants have the highest level of breastfeeding training and may be necessary when complex problems surrounding breastfeeding arise.”
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends breastfeeding counseling as a preventive service for pregnant women, new mothers, and their children. They recommend interventions both during pregnancy and after birth to support breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is good for babies, and also can impact maternal health.
Because of the 2015 NDAA, beneficiaries have had access to up to six breastfeeding/lactation counseling sessions per birth event. Military moms are also allowed one no-cost breast pump to help with breastfeeding per birth event.
You can find the full “Establishing a TRICARE Childbirth and Breastfeeding Support Demonstration” by the Defense Department here that was posted back in October.
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About the author
Julie Provost is a freelance writer, blogger, and owner of Soldier's Wife, Crazy Life, a support blog for military spouses. She lives in Tennessee with her National Guard husband and three boys.