Click here for the Breastfeeding Resource Guide.
Why WIC promotes breastfeeding
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
- Lower IQ
- Chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and childhood cancers
Not breastfeeding places women at greater risk for:
- Breast and ovarian cancer
Mother’s milk and formula are not
the same!They are not even close. Mother’s
milk is specially designed to meet an infant’s needs. The ‘mom-made’ nutrientsin the milk promote brain growth and development, provide infection
resistance and decrease the risk of childhood diseases.
Formula is just food! Its ingredients are commercially-processed from a variety of sources such as cow’s milk protein, vegetable oils and algae. It lacks antibodies and other ingredients that are essential for optimal health. Formula tries to imitate mother’s milk but it fails to do so. Formula feeding also increases food and health care costs.
The longer a woman breastfeeds, the more health benefits both she and her baby receive. Breastfeeding exclusively for six months is recommended with the addition of baby foods after six months. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that an infant be breastfed for at least the first year of life.
But if formula increases health risks, why does WIC provide it?
Some women choose not to breastfeed but cannot afford to buy all the formula their babies need. In the past, poor infant health outcomes have resulted from mothers trying to stretch the formula by over-diluting it and/or using inappropriate substitutes such as evaporated milk. To prevent these unsafe practices, WIC provides formula. However, even when properly diluted, feeding formula still puts mother and infant at greater risk for a variety of health problems. Therefore, as a long-term health objective, WIC continues to encourage women to breastfeed.
How WIC promotes breastfeedingWIC has undertaken a number of initiatives to increase the incidence and duration of breastfeeding among women enrolled in the Program:
- Each local agency appoints a breastfeeding coordinator who 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 of breastfeeding printed materials and maintain a breastfeeding friendly-clinic environment.
- WIC food dollars are used to purchase breastpumps for women enrolled on the program who choose to continue breastfeeding when they return to work/school.
- Women who exclusively breastfeed receive an enhanced food package.
- The State Agency received special grant funding from USDA
to hire breastfeeding peer counselors in select areas of
the state. These counselors provide new mothers with support
and encouragement during the early post-partum period and
also help them make the transition back to work or school.
Mom’s Milk or Formula? It’s more than a choice between paper or plastic
Mom’s Milk Was Just Right!
Can Nursing Moms Take Medications?
What if I Smoke? Can I Still Nurse My Baby?
But I Can’t See Myself Doing That! (English and Spanish)
“Hey Mommy, It’s Time to Eat” (Tips for the first 10 days of nursing)
“Mommy Help” (Tips for the first 6 weeks of nursing)
“Mommy Help” for Busy Moms (Tips for nursing moms going back to work/school)
Grandchild on the Way?