Your body is prepared to generate nutrition uniquely matched to the changing needs of your infant and has more of what your baby needs than formula.  Both the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend exclusive breastfeeding up to 6 months of age. Breastfeeding along with supplementary foods is recommended for at least a year (AAP) or up to 2 years or beyond (WHO).

Research has demonstrated that babies who are breast fed are less likely to:

  • develop ear infections and respiratory illnesses
  • experience diarrhea and food allergies
  • die from SIDS
  • be obese during childhood

Mothers who breastfeed enjoy:

  • decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancer
  • less risk of weak or brittle bones later in life
  • faster weight loss after delivery
  • less risk of post-partum depression
  • the $3,000 formula and bottles would cost your family

Breastfeeding is a skill that you can develop with practice and appropriate support.

Talking to a lactation consultant in the hospital or in your community can help you:

You have many options to get support, and most are free or low-cost.

Cottage Hospital is the home of The Lactation Center (TLC). You can call The Lactation Center Warm Line at 805-569-7826 with questions and concerns.

Breatsfeeding classes are typically held once a month on Mondays from 7-9 p.m. A Mother’s Circle offers free, drop-in support and breastfeeding information on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 4:30 pm in the Women’s Services Conference Room at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. Bilingual lactation consultants or clinical educators provide ongoing support for expectant, new, and nursing mothers who have questions or concerns about breastfeeding. Review a schedule of upcoming Breastfeeding classes or Mother’s Circle Breastfeeding Support meetings at Cottage Hospital.

Download a reference sheet for more information.

Marian Regional Medical Center  has a breastfeeding support clinic located at 1430 East Main Street, Suite 102 in Santa Maria. Call (805) 739-3388 to find out about classes and groups or to schedule a consultation with a certified lactation consultant.

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers new parent classes on Thursday evenings that include breastfeeding. Call (805) 737-3395 to enroll. They also offer a Breastfeeding Mothers Support Group on Facebook.

The County of Santa Barbara’s Women and Infant Children (WIC) Program offers appointments with 7 International Board Certified Laction Consultants (IBCLC) at 6 different locations in the county. If you are on WIC or have Medi-Cal, call 1-877-275-8805 to schedule an appointment to visit a lactation consultant at an office near you.

Carpinteria WIC office
5201 Eighth Street Suite 314
Carpinteria, CA 93013

Franklin Health Care Center
1136 E. Montecito St
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

Santa Barbara WIC Office
315 Camino Del Remedio
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

Lompoc Health Care Center/WIC
301 N “R” St.
Lompoc, CA 93436

Betteravia WIC Office
2125 S. Centerpointe Pkwy Suite 302
Santa Maria, CA 93455

North Santa Maria WIC Office
203 E. Fesler St
Santa Maria, CA 93454


WIC also offers a Peer Counselor Program, staffed by moms who provide breastfeeding information and support by phone, text, and in person. A peer counselor can help you make a plan to successfully breastfeed while you are at work or going to school. They can also issue pumps and schedule appointments with lactation counselors if you need additional help.

La Leche League of Santa Barbara offers a lending library and monthly meetings (typically on Monday mornings). Check for a schedule and for upcoming special meetings for couples, working mothers, and for mothers breastfeeding toddlers. They also offer breastfeeding classes on a sliding fee scale of $2-20. Call their warm line at (805) 270-3321, or join their Facebook group for information about classes and peer support.

Many insurance companies will cover the cost of seeing a lactation counselor. Search for a local member of the International Lactation Consultant Association for a private consultation, including:

  • prenatal counseling
  • positioning and latching
  • milk expression and storage for mothers
  • strategies for breastfeeding and working
  • special needs, such as twins, premies, sick infants, or infants with special needs

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), requires that breastfeeding support, counseling, and equipment for the duration of breastfeeding be provided to new mothers. Your insurance must cover the cost of your breast bump, either a rental unit or a new one you can keep. Plans vary in whether the covered pump is manual or electric, how long you can rent, and when you’ll receive it (before or after you give birth). Contact your insurer to discuss your options. They may have a specific model ro choose from with a designated supplier or they may allow you to purchase a pump of your choosing and be reimbursed.

Breastfeeding is best for you and your baby, and there are laws that protect you while breastfeeding in public, at work, or at school. Read the actual language of laws protecting you and discuss the accommodations you will need with your employer or school early so plans can be made. If you feel like you are not receiving your rights as protected by law, you can call the Legal Aid Society- Employment Law Center hotline at (800) 880-8057 for advice or file a claim online.