August is National Breastfeeding Month, a month dedicated to supporting mothers in reaching their breastfeeding goals.
Research shows that breastfeeding provides many health benefits for infants and mothers. Breastfeeding can help protect babies against some short- and long-term illnesses and diseases. Breastfed babies have a lower risk of asthma, obesity, type 1 diabetes, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are less common among women who breastfeed.
However, it can be difficult to manage breastfeeding for the recommended six to twelve months. Circumstances like difficulty latching and finding space to pump breastmilk at work, make it hard for mothers to reach their goals. Mesa County Public Health houses two programs that support moms when they choose to breastfeed, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP). Staff in both programs have special training and credentials to provide breastfeeding education, such as Certified Lactation Counselors (CLC) and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC). Staff also serve on the local Western Slope Breastfeeding Coalition which advocates for breastfeeding-friendly policies and education.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, commonly referred to as WIC, provides nutrition education, breastfeeding support, and helps pay for healthy groceries. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children up to age five who meet income eligibility qualify. Breastfeeding moms receive generous food benefits, including fresh fruits and vegetables.
WIC also provides breastfeeding moms:
- Peer counseling
- Virtual infant feeding groups
- Free breast pumps
Marissa Alvarado, Mesa County WIC Educator, shared, “a Spanish-speaking mom came into the WIC clinic facing challenges with breastfeeding her premature baby. She met with our lactation consultant and one of our bilingual educators. She left the clinic with a breast pump and was more confident and assured that she was doing the best for her baby.” Alvarado reported that the mother continues to breastfeed.
Nurse-Family Partnership is a program designed specifically for first-time moms who also meet income eligibility. Trained Registered Nurses begin working with these moms early in pregnancy and stay connected until the baby turns two. The nurse stays connected with the mom until the baby is two years old. These nurses can assess breastfeeding needs and provide help in families’ homes. They’re also connected to community resources for additional breastfeeding support when needed.
“One of our clients left the hospital breastfeeding her newborn but was very unsure of how long she wanted to continue to breastfeed. She became very concerned that her milk supply was low and was quickly losing confidence in her ability to continue to exclusively breastfeed,” shared Erin Andrews, Nurse-Family Partnership Manager. Andrews continued, “Her NFP nurse made a plan with her to weigh the baby weekly to validate the new mom’s efforts and provided regular check-ins to confirm that everything was going well. The baby is still exclusively breastfeeding at 2 months!”
Learn about eligibility information for Nurse-Family Partnership.
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