By Jamie Shuster
It’s World Breastfeeding Week, which provides us with an opportunity to highlight the great work our Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program is doing to encourage more South Carolina women to breastfeed their babies.
Promoting breastfeeding is one of our priority focuses at DHEC Public Health. Increasing the number of women who choose to breastfeed is an effective, evidence-based strategy to fight childhood obesity. And we know that getting a good start is critical to helping moms successfully initiate and continue breastfeeding. Our WIC breastfeeding peer counseling program helps moms get off to a strong start by connecting new moms to education and support at the hospital before mom and baby are discharged.
Our breastfeeding peer counselors are mothers who have successfully breastfed at least one baby and serve as mentors to new mothers who want to nurse. The peer counselors visit new mothers while they are in the hospital, educating them on how to breastfeed and answering any questions of concerns that new moms may have. The peer counselors continue to follow up with moms for at least six months to provide encouragement and guidance to help new moms and their babies thrive. They also attend our breastfeeding, prenatal, and WIC classes at our local health departments to offer their expertise and support to clients in larger group settings.
We have 29 breastfeeding counselors working in communities across the state, all of whom are dedicated and valuable members of our Public Health team. Below are four peer counselors who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty to help breastfeeding moms get off to a great start:
Kristle Prussia is a breastfeeding peer counselor in Beaufort. Kristle’s colleagues say she’s stepped into her role without hesitation and is always looking for new ways to praise the breastfeeding mothers she works with.
Angela Jackson is a peer counselor in Rock Hill and has become a well-known breastfeeding advocate in her community. Angela uses her personal experience to highlight the value of support when initiating and continuing breastfeeding, even when it’s challenging or earlier attempts have been unsuccessful. Her coworkers say she readily evokes trust and a quick report with the new moms she works with.
Connie Palmer serves Marion and Dillon Counties, traveling to rural communities to help new moms successfully breastfeed. Connie is known for being quick to offer words of encouragement and to new mothers during her many hospital, home and clinic visits in the Pee Dee.
Danielle Pelfrey works with new moms at Greenville Health System in the Upstate. Her colleagues say she has a welcoming and bubbly personality that new mothers love. Danielle is able to help new moms at the very beginning of their breastfeeding experience while they are still in the hospital, and is known for her ability to communicate well with not only mothers but hospital staff.
Thank you to all of our breastfeeding peer counselors who are doing a great job increasing access to breastfeeding support and education for South Carolina moms.