Baby Feeding Support for Military Families – Completely Free with TRICARE

Jen + Kirst of Wives of the Air Force
October 29, 2022

This blog was originally posted by Wives of the Air Force.

Hi! I’m Andrea Ippolito - mom to Mae (4) and Lulu (1) and upstate New Yorker. Like many parents, I go through constant periods of loving my kids and being absolutely exhausted by them. I have spent most of my career obsessed with understanding the problems within our healthcare system (specifically healthcare and how it impacts military families) and after becoming a parent, I saw a crazy huge need to improve the experience surrounding giving birth and helping to support moms after a baby is born.

Broken by Breastfeeding


When my daughter Mae was born in 2018, I had never felt so broken in my life. She was born three weeks early and breastfeeding just was not working. I honestly had no idea what to expect because no one had prepared me. There was a ton of talk during pregnancy about the birth and labor, but there were zero conversations in any of my prenatal appointments about what feeding would look like. Breastfeeding is so connected to mom’s health, including the good aspects of it (reducing the risk of breast cancer as an example, which runs in my family) and the not-so-great parts such as the physical burden of it (no days off, painful latching, clogged ducts and the list goes on-and-on).  This was especially frustrating because I learned that under the Affordable Care Act, breastfeeding support is supposed to be covered by health plans, but reports like this one found that very few health plans are in compliance with federal law. 

I had to quickly start using formula because my daughter was down to 4 pounds. Formula is a fantastic and safe option (and hooray - she is a very healthy, sassy, and sometimes-pain-in-the-butt 4-year-old now!), but I definitely felt stigmatized by the whole thing and sometimes judged for using formula. I was crazy frustrated because during this incredibly stressful time while mom is recovering physically and emotionally from giving birth, we should be providing non-judgmental pathways for people to feed their baby however works for them (covered by their health plan!) whether that is breastfeeding, formula, pumping, donor milk or whatever works for them.


Passion for Military Families

This whole experience was particularly infuriating because my background is in implementing healthcare systems to improve access to care. When I was in graduate school, I was part of a team initiated by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to redesign the system of behavioral healthcare for service members faced with post-traumatic stress. Specifically, my research was surrounding how telehealth could be further utilized to improve access to and convenience of care. Fast forward to the experience with my daughter and I realized that the same playbook could be applied to improving access to care for families and this is how SimpliFed was born.

SimpliFed - Virtual Baby Feeding Support

SimpliFed works with health plans, such as TRICARE East and TRICARE West, to cover baby feeding support services via telehealth for military families starting during pregnancy and up through postpartum at no cost to families. Yes, no cost! 

More importantly, we provide inclusive support, we believe that how you feed your baby isn’t as important as being educated and supported in the baby feeding process. 

And we do all of this online!

We decided to implement our services virtually because as a new parent it is insanely difficult to take your baby to a clinic in an ongoing way. Throw in the challenges of PCSing, TDYs, etc. military families experience, we knew we had to make it accessible no matter where you were physically located. 

Baby feeding and breastfeeding support require access to ongoing evidence-based information from highly trained health professionals. This is especially important as you progress through the trials and tribulations of baby feeding: the cloudy first weeks, growth spurts, transitioning back to work, learning how to use the pump effectively and safely, combo feeding, and weaning – to name a few.  Our goal at SimpliFed is to truly democratize access to care to allow every parent to feel good about feeding their familyBaby feeding and breastfeeding are so central to maternal and infant health and it is time that we give military families the care they need and deserve.