Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding gives babies a healthy start – and it’s good for parents, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for approximately the first six months of life. They further recommend that breastfeeding continue for at least twelve months and thereafter as long as mutually desired by the parent and child. MORE

Breastfeeding is also a journey! There are ups and downs and feelings of accomplishments and frustration. Resources exist to support families every step of the way, no matter what stage of the breastfeeding journey they’re in.

Benefits

  • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Breast milk has just the right amount of fat, sugar, water, and protein that is needed for a baby's growth and development. It is easier for most babies to digest breast milk than formula.
  • Breastfeeding is convenient. It’s always fresh and the right temperature.
  • Breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby. Physical contact is important to newborns. It can help them feel more secure, warm, and comforted.

What you should do 

Consider taking prenatal classes

Many insurance companies offer coverage for prenatal classes. Specific details may change frequently. Contact your medical insurance provider for current plan guidelines.

Enroll in the WIC (Women, Infants and Children) Program

Many people qualify for the WIC program, which offers education and support for pregnant and breastfeeding individuals. Trained lactation consultants, counselors, peer counselors and nutritionists are available to ensure each family meets their personal breastfeeding goal. Learn more about WIC

Request a Family Visit

Family Visiting is a free service that has supported thousands of pregnant Rhode Islanders, parents, and caregivers with children up to age three. Trained specialists are available to meet with parents at their home, or in another place in the community, in order to provide breastfeeding education and support. Learn more about Family Visiting

Get a breast pump through your health insurance

Pumping can help build up your milk supply and enable someone else to feed your baby when you cannot. Under the Affordable Care Act, all health insurance plans must cover the cost of a breast pump. Your plan may have guidelines on whether the covered pump is manual or electric, the length of the rental, and when you’ll receive it (before or after birth). Contact your medical insurance provider for current plan guidelines.

Take advantage of hospital telephone breastfeeding support

Most Rhode Island birthing hospitals have phone services that parents can call after they leave the hospital with questions or concerns about breastfeeding.

  • Kent County Hospital 401-736-1988
  • Landmark Medical Center 401-769-4100 x 2218
  • Newport Hospital 401-845-1110
  • South County Hospital 401-788-1226
  • Women and Infants Hospital of Rhode Island 1-800-711-7011

Many birthing hospitals also offer inpatient and outpatient lactation consultations. Contact your local hospital to learn more.

Get breastfeeding support through a private lactation practice or a doula

Contact your health insurance company to find lactation consultants in your network. Visit Doulas RI to find a birth doula.

Join a breastfeeding support group

Connect with other breastfeeding families, ask questions, and get breastfeeding advice and education through a local support group:

Learn more about how to continue breastfeeding when you return to work or school

If your baby is not with you, you can pump your breast milk and save it to feed later. This will help your body keep making milk. If you are away from your baby for a long time and do not pump your milk, your body will make less milk. Federal and local laws are in place to support breastfeeding in public and in the workplace. Learn more about Rhode Island breastfeeding laws and returning to work.

What we do 

The Rhode Island Department of Health is committed to promoting breastfeeding, protecting a person’s right to breastfeed their child, and ensuring the availability and quality of healthcare services for breastfeeding Rhode Islanders. The Department collaborates with and supports healthcare professionals and community groups working to increase breastfeeding rates in Rhode Island. The WIC Program also provides support to breastfeeding families.