To highlight the importance of a healthy start in life, more than 170 countries celebrated World Breastfeeding Week earlier this month. Themed “Breastfeeding: A Winning Goal for Life,” the recognition encourages the practice to improve the health of babies around the globe. The U.S. Breastfeeding Committee (USBC) takes it a step further, recognizing the entire month of August as “National Breastfeeding Month.”
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service shares this commitment. In fact, its Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (better known as WIC) promotes breastfeeding as the optimal infant feeding choice. We support breastfeeding among WIC moms by providing counseling and educational materials, offering healthy food packages, and giving out breastfeeding aids, like breast pumps.
WIC also has peer counselors, mothers themselves, who share their personal experiences with breastfeeding to WIC moms. They are trained to provide counseling and assistance to those with similar backgrounds such as language, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. In WIC, peer counselors undergo training to provide mother-to-mother support in group settings and one-to-one counseling through telephone calls or visits in the home, clinic, or hospital. Peer counselors are also very familiar with the resources available to WIC clients, understand questions a new breastfeeding mother is likely to ask, and recognize when to refer mothers to other resources during critical periods.
WIC’s successful Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work is the foundation of our breastfeeding activities. The promotional campaign emphasizes the support of family and friends, the health care system, and the community as essential for a breastfeeding mother.
To further promote World Breastfeeding Week, FNS and the National Agriculture Library, Food Nutrition Information Center launched a new mobile-friendly website, http://lovingsupport.nal.usda.gov/. The website offers easy access to a variety of Loving Support Makes Breastfeeding Work materials under four, diversity-sensitive categories – Moms, Family and Friends, WIC staff and Community Partners.
The birth of a child is an exciting time for a family and choosing how to feed your new baby is one of your most important decisions. The WIC Program can help reach your breastfeeding goals, and with a little loving support we can foster a healthier next generation.