Breastfeeding and Lactation - Women Veterans Health Care
Attention A T users. To access the menus on this page please perform the following steps. 1. Please switch auto forms mode to off. 2. Hit enter to expand a main menu option (Health, Benefits, etc). 3. To enter and activate the submenu links, hit the down arrow. You will now be able to tab or arrow up or down through the submenu options to access/activate the submenu links.

Women Veterans Health Care

Menu
Menu

Quick Links

Veterans Crisis Line Badge
My healthevet badge
 

Breastfeeding and Lactation

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding with human milk offers a number of benefits for you and your baby.

Providing human milk can:

  • Protect your baby from infection—even the milk produced during the first few days after birth is packed with antibodies that fight infection
  • Lower the risk of asthma, allergies, type 1 diabetes, obesity, and childhood leukemia
  • Reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
  • Help your body recover from pregnancy
  • Release hormones that may lower your risk for postpartum depression
  • Lower your risk of some cancers and illness, such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and heart disease

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding can be challenging.

Sometimes breastfeeding or chestfeeding is stressful.

  • Being the sole source of milk for your baby is not easy.
  • When the baby is a newborn, your sleep will be interrupted to feed the baby, which can make you feel tired.
  • You may experience soreness, very full breasts / chests, or potentially a breast / chest infection.
  • Some people have had breast or chest surgery that affects the amount of human milk they produce.
  • A lack of support by family or friends can cause discomfort and anxiety. One way to lower stress is to take care of yourself; support networks with individuals who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding can be helpful.

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding may not be the right choice for everyone.

  • Some people may have physical challenges that make breastfeeding, chest feeding, or pumping human milk difficult or impossible.
  • Others may have personal reasons why breastfeeding or chestfeeding is not the right choice.
  • Some people may take certain medications that make breastfeeding or chestfeeding unsafe for the baby.

Breastfeeding or chestfeeding is a personal decision. VA is here to support you and provide resources no matter what route you choose. Talk with your health care provider about what is best for you and your baby.

What services does VA provide for breastfeeding or chest feeding?

Many VA facilities offer lactation services and programs. You may also be able to use lactation services through VA's Community Care program. Talk with your maternity care coordinator or lactation professional at your VA location for services such as:

  • Breastfeeding / chestfeeding classes
  • Lactation counseling and education
  • Support groups

VA provides resources to help you with breastfeeding/chestfeeding. These resources may include:

  • Breast pumps / chest pumps
  • Nursing bras
  • Pumping bras
  • Breast / chest pads
  • Nipple cream
  • Nipple shields
  • Milk storage bags
  • Postpartum support belts

VA connects Veteran parents who are unable to breastfeed / chestfeed with community resources, such as human milk banks and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). VA also ensures all Veterans receive education, support, and counseling when needed.

How do I access services for breastfeeding/chestfeeding at VA?

The first step to access services at VA is to contact or make an appointment with the maternity care coordinator or lactation professional at your local VA facility. They will provide you with the best resources.

They may also make referrals to community resources or VA Community Care.

If you don't already use VA health care, you can also use the following online tools:

Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.

Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.

Find your local VA and make an appointment.

Women Veterans Call Center logo

The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:

  • Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
  • Setting up a medical appointment in your area
  • Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

Where can I find more information, help and resources on lactation?

Women Veterans Health Care Videos

Watch videos for and about Women Veterans.
Examples of Women's Health Outreach Posters

Women Veterans Health Care Outreach Posters

View our Outreach Posters.
Examples of Women's Health Outreach Posters

* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site.
† VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.

The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to VA. The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to VA.
We are open

Weekdays: 8:00 am–10:00 pm ET

Saturday: 8:00 am–6:30 pm ET