WIC peer counselors aid, encourage new mothers learning to breastfeed

By Beverly Brockington
WIC Nutrition Manager
DHEC Division of WIC Services

One of the most effective ways for new mothers to learn to breastfeed is through the guidance of someone who has done it and knows the ups and the downs involved in the process.

In the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, peer counselors fill that role. Peer counselors are WIC moms who breastfed their babies and who have been trained to help others. They know the challenges new mothers face and can use their experiences to answer questions, offer comfort and provide encouragement.

Peer counselors’ experience invaluable

The peer counselors are valuable members of the WIC breastfeeding education and support system, which also includes a wide range of clinical staff. This week is World Breastfeeding Week, a good time to highlight unsung champions of breastfeeding such as peer counselors.

When new moms can talk to someone who has endured similar experiences, it’s easier for them to ask difficult questions and share embarrassing moments they wouldn’t otherwise share.

Because WIC peer counselors are mothers from within the community, they are able to bond with new moms and provide much-needed support in an effort to help young mothers have a good experience with breastfeeding. Among other things, peer counselors:

  • Help new mothers make informed choices about how they will feed their babies.
  • Provide tips for helping mothers get off to a good start with breastfeeding.
  • Encourage mothers when they reach difficult points during breastfeeding.
  • Help mothers find the best way to fit breastfeeding into their schedules.

Help for mothers seeking to breastfeed

Many new mothers are hesitant or afraid to try breastfeeding for various reasons: Some common barriers include embarrassment, the challenge of returning to work or school, a lack of support, the fear of pain, a lack of confidence, and concern about not making enough milk.

But there are ways to address most concerns surrounding breastfeeding, and peer counseling is one of them. Effective peer counseling helps many mothers have good experiences.

When mothers have a good experience with breastfeeding, it increases the chance of them trying to do it longer, which is beneficial to them and their baby.

Hear why WIC counselors love what they do!

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