- Erin Bertoldi
State Breastfeeding Coordinator
Breastfeeding gives babies a healthy start – and it’s good for parents, too. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for approximately the first six months of life. The AAP supports continued breastfeeding (along with appropriate additional foods given to baby starting at about six months) as long as desired by parent and child for two years or beyond. 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.
Many insurance companies offer coverage for prenatal classes. Specific details may change frequently. Contact your medical insurance provider for current plan guidelines.
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
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
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.
Most Rhode Island birthing hospitals have phone services that parents can call after they leave the hospital with questions or concerns about breastfeeding.
Many birthing hospitals also offer inpatient and outpatient lactation consultations. Contact your local hospital to learn more.
Connect with other breastfeeding families, ask questions, and get breastfeeding advice and education through a local support group:
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.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for their nursing child for one year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk. Employees are entitled to a place to pump at work, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public. On December 29, 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2023 into law. The law includes the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act (“PUMP Act”), which extends to more nursing employees the rights to receive break time to pump and a private place to pump at work and may impact some of the other information provided below.
The US Department of Labor has a dedicated webpage which helps communicate the law to employees and employers, offered in a variety of languages. There is also an area on this site with instructions on how to file a complaint. Additionally, there are some great posters/handouts that can be printed to post in workplaces and share with families.
RI’s laws are listed on this RIDOH brochure. Any concerns or complaints can be directed to the WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator (Erin.Bertoldi@health.ri.gov). RIDOH State WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator can provide technical assistance to employers or share any complaints with RIDOH’s legal team.
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.