Breastfeeding Support

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The WIC program promotes breastfeeding because it is a critical public health concern.

Mother’s milk should be the main source of nutrition for infants. Although feeding formula is viewed as culturally normal, the health risks are numerous.

Feeding formula places infants at greater risk for:

    • Respiratory and ear infections
    • Allergies
    • Gastroenteritis
    • Obesity
    • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
    • Lower IQ
    • Chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and childhood cancers

Not breastfeeding may put women at greater risk for:

    • Breast and ovarian cancer
    • Obesity
    • Osteoporosis
    • Anemia

Mother’s milk and formula are not the same. Mother’s milk is specially designed to meet an infant’s needs. The nutrients in breast milk promote brain growth and development, provide infection resistance and decrease the risk of childhood diseases.

The ingredients in formula are commercially processed from a variety of sources such as cow’s milk protein, sugar, vegetable oils and algae. It lacks antibodies and other ingredients that are essential for optimal health. Even though formula tries to imitate mother’s milk it fails to do so and increases food and health care costs for families.

Some women choose not to breastfeed but cannot afford to buy the formula their babies need. That is why WIC provides formula. In the past, poor infant outcomes have resulted from mothers trying to stretch the formula by over-diluting or using inappropriate substitutes such as evaporated milk. WIC tries to prevent these unsafe practices by providing a formula package, which will meet most of the needs of the infants. Non-breastfeeding moms will need to prepare for the additional formula needs as their infant grows which will add significantly to the families food costs.

WIC has undertaken a number of initiatives to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among women enrolled in the program:

    • A WIC breastfeeding coordinator is responsible for implementing recommended breastfeeding initiatives;
    • WIC staff receives on-going training on how to encourage prenatal women to breastfeed by identifying and addressing cultural barriers and how to counsel and support those who choose to breastfeed;
    • All WIC agencies provide a wide variety educational materials about breastfeeding and maintain a breastfeeding friendly clinic environment;
    • WIC food dollars are used to purchase breast pumps for women enrolled on the program who choose to continue breastfeeding when they return to work or school;
    • Women who exclusively breastfeed receive an enhanced food package;
    • Monthly classes are provided by the Breastfeeding Coordinator to provide information and an interactive environment for moms-to-be to engage in discussions regarding breastfeeding.