WIC Breast Feeding Support
Breastfeeding is essential in infant development and is recommended by the Women, Infant, and Child Program to be the best way of feeding babies because of its nutritional value.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should be exclusively breastfed for 6 months. Beyond that, duration of at least 12 months of breastfeeding is encouraged as long as the mother and baby opt to continue.
For babies, it is known that breast milk supplies all the necessary nutrients in the proper proportions. It is a great source of lactose and essential fatty acids that help the baby’s brain grow and develop. Skin-to-skin contact while breastfeeding helps soothe and comfort the infant while making the mother able to understand her baby’s cues.
Moreover, babies that are breastfed have fewer cases of infections, bacterial meningitis, late-onset sepsis, E. coli, and staphylococci.
Breastfeeding moms, on the other hand, have lower rates of ovarian, breast and endometrial cancer. They can also achieve back their normal body weight much easier and may have a decreased risk of iron-deficiency anemia while nursing.
The bond between the baby and mother also improves as breastfeeding releases oxytocins which are considered as “love” hormones. These oxytocins aid in contracting the uterus to reduce it to its normal condition and prevent postpartum hemorrhage.
Although breastfeeding has presented great benefits, it does not come easy for other women.
Researches have shown that WIC participants have lower initiation and earlier cessation rates compared to the national average. Some of the barriers that hinder these women from performing proper breastfeeding include:
- Misinformation or lack of proper education
- Maternal anxiety about breast milk insufficiency
- Lack of confidence or embarrassment
- Bad previous breastfeeding experiences
- Lack of support from family, workplace and healthcare professionals
- Availability of free formula milk, early mother and baby separation and inadequate hospital follow up after discharge
These problems are being reversed by the WIC program for years. Instead of previously having only formula milk available for participants, the program has gravitated towards a stronger breastfeeding promotion and support system. Campaigns like peer counseling programs, Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work and Fathers Supporting Breastfeeding are a few of WIC’s efforts.
To strengthen WIC’s stand for exclusive breastfeeding, the program committed to offering benefits such as food packages that are available for both mother and infant. These packages include:
- Full Breastfeeding Package – This package is designed to give mothers a high amount of various food choices for one year and a complementary supplemental food supply for the baby from 6 years of age.
- Partial Breastfeeding Package – This package provides mothers who give both breastmilk and formula milk to their babies a food set that will supplement their special nutritional needs. Partially breastfed infants will receive less formula to encourage mothers to feed more breastmilk to their babies.
In the event that breastfeeding is not at all possible for some mothers, an offer of fully formula milk package is the last resort of the WIC program. As this not recommended by any health organization because it lacks full nutrient and immunity supplements for the baby, mothers can still avail the Full Formula package for 6 months postpartum.
All WIC moms, regardless of breastfeeding method, are eligible to receive breastfeeding support from any local WIC clinics. This service guides mothers into the proper care of the baby and themselves, breastfeeding supplies, training and peer counseling with other successful breastfeeding WIC mothers.
For more information, visit the nearest local WIC clinic or click here.