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WIC touts benefits of breastfeeding

Mom Destiny Dahm and her baby, Rashon, pose with grandmother Sharyn Clough while speaking with WIC Peer Counselor Pam Klatt. WIC offers a peer program for new mothers to give one-on-one advice and information. (Photo provided by WIC Coordinator Bea Haines)

By Bea Haines, Goodhue County WIC coordinator

Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers - that is the theme of World Breastfeeding Week which will be celebrated worldwide Aug. 1-7. The goal is to highlight the importance of providing support to breastfeeding families.

The Goodhue County Women, Infants and Children program, or WIC, is one such source of support. WIC is a nutrition education and food supplement program for pregnant and postpartum women, infants and children.

Infant feeding is one of the most important decisions that new families make. There is clear evidence that breastfeeding is the ideal way to feed an infant.

Breast milk has everything a baby needs to grow. It is easy to digest, helps a baby's eyes and brain develop and protects babies from ear infections, colds and allergies. Breastfed babies are also less likely to have diabetes or become overweight in later years.

In addition, mothers also benefit since breastfeeding is less costly, more convenient and healthier babies mean fewer doctor visits and less missed time at work.

So how does WIC support and encourage moms who breastfeed? During pregnancy moms are educated about the benefits of breastfeeding, the how-to of breastfeeding and given information on resources that are available to support mom and baby. WIC also provides healthy supplemental foods for mom to assist with her nutritional needs during pregnancy and after her baby is born.

Goodhue County WIC also has a Peer Breastfeeding Program that is available to participants. Peers have breastfeeding experience and have completed training to support other moms during pregnancy and after delivery.

Peer counselors are available to answer questions and provide information on an individual basis. They also are available outside of normal business hours.

Clients have made the following comments about the Peer Breastfeeding Program:

"Before when I tried to breastfeed it didn't go well. This time I have more support - the lactation consultant and the peer group are so helpful. I feel so much better about it."

"I really enjoyed having the peer to talk to - she understood where I was coming from and answered my questions"

"I met with the peer several times and it was so helpful. I really enjoyed it."

"The peer really helped my wife - breastfeeding went better this time and she breast-fed longer than with our first child."

Moms also do better when they are supported by family (dad, grandparents) and by friends. It is so special to see a new mom come into WIC with an extended family member or friend who is encouraging her breastfeeding efforts.

Supporting pregnant women and new moms in their effort to provide the best for their baby cannot be stressed enough. A mother and her child benefit from the support of family, friends, employers, healthcare providers, lactation consultant services and the WIC Program. All of these separate entities can work together to build a mother's confidence and contribute to a healthy, successful breastfeeding experience.

The Goodhue Wabasha Pierce County Breastfeeding Coalition is planning several community activities in the month of August to promote breastfeeding support.

There will be a "Rock and Rest" area at the Goodhue County Fair where moms can take a break and have a quiet place to feed their baby.

Also look for the breastfeeding display that will be up at various public libraries.

For more information about WIC - including who qualifies and how to enroll - please call Goodhue County WIC at 651-385-4782.

In accordance with Federal Law and U.S. Dept of Agriculture policy, WIC is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability.