Tag Archives: breastfeeding

Breastfeeding has many benefits — for mother and baby


By Ellen B. Babb, PhD, MPH, RD, LD
WIC State Breastfeeding Coordinator
DHEC Division of WIC Services

There’s a reason pediatricians and other health officials encourage mothers to breastfeed: It has great benefits — health and otherwise — for mother and baby.

Breastfeeding offers essential nutrients and a nutritionally balanced meal for your baby. In addition to producing nutrition only you can provide, breast milk is easy to digest, and it fights disease — from diabetes to cancer to obesity. The experience of breastfeeding is special for so many other reasons, including:

  • The health benefits it provides mothers
  • The cost savings
  • The joyful closeness and bonding with your baby

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding continue for at least 12 months, and thereafter for as long as mother and baby desire.

World Breastfeeding Week

We cannot overstate the value of breastfeeding, which is why August 1 – 7 is set aside as World Breastfeeding Week. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) encourages all expectant and new mothers to know the facts about the important health benefits of breastfeeding.

In South Carolina, 73 percent of babies have been breastfed for some period of time, 13 percent are exclusively breastfed at six months, and 14 percent are breastfeeding in some capacity at 12 months. Among all WIC mothers in South Carolina, 24 percent of children under age 1 are being breastfed.

What does WIC Offer for Breastfeeding Moms and Babies?

  • Supportive breastfeeding staff: breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors and International Board Certified Lactation Consultants
  • Breastfeeding education materials
  • Enhanced breastfeeding food package
  • Breastfeeding support groups – Circle of Friends
  • “How to Breastfeed” classes
  • Breast pumps and supplies

One of the best ways to get a good start breastfeeding after giving birth is to have your baby at a Baby-Friendly Hospital, where mothers are given optimum support to initiate and continue breastfeeding their babies safely. To view a listing of South Carolina hospitals that have received this designation, please click here.

The success rate among mothers who want to breastfeed can be greatly improved through active support from their families, friends, communities, clinicians, health care leaders and employers.

For more general information about breastfeeding, click here. For information about how WIC can help with breastfeeding, please click here.

Regional Milk Depots Help Babies in Need

Pictured above: Pee Dee Region Nutritional Education Specialist Ellen Edens (left) and Nursing Site Supervisor Rhonda Windham oversee donation collection and deposits to the Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina. 

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

Thanks to the generosity of breastfeeding moms and the help of state health department staff statewide, more babies in need will receive nourishing ​milk for a healthy start.

The Mother’s Milk Bank of S​outh Carolina opened at the Medical University of South Carolina in 2015 to provide pasteurized human milk to hospitalized S.C. infants whose mother’s milk supply is limited. The program created a network of milk deposit sites across the state, including five DHEC locations, to make it easier for breastfeeding moms to donate their surplus milk.

The collaborative effort is off to a great start, and DHEC staff have already helped collect more than 4,000 ounces of ​milk for the Mother’s Milk Bank!

​In January, the Pee Dee Region received its first donation and has since collected a total of 793 ounces through the Sumter County Health Department. The Lowcountry has collected more than 1,100 ounces at the Beaufort and Goose Creek locations. The Midlands’ total is 2,212 ounces, and in the Upstate team is continuing to promote the Spartanburg County depot site. ​

Mother’s milk is important for newborns, especially for premature, very low birth weight babies who are at higher risk for many serious health conditions. ​The Mother’s Milk Bank of South Carolina was created by various partners including the Medical University of South Carolina, the S.C. Neonatal Consortium and the S.C. Birth Outcomes Initiative. For more information, visit scmilkbank.org.​

Pee Dee Region’s Breastfeeding Peer Counselors Reach the Gold

By Mary-Kathryn Craft

S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Women Infants and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Peer Counselors in the Pee Dee Region recently received national recognition for their exceptional work. The team, led by WIC Program Manager Sadhana Tolani and Breastfeeding Coordinator Jenna Deaver, was awarded the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Loving Support of Excellence Gold Award.

The honor recognizes local WIC agencies that provide exemplary breastfeeding promotion and support activities. The Pee Dee program was one of six selected in the Southeast.

WIC Program Manager Sadhana Tolani and Breastfeeding Coordinator Jenna Deaver

WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator Jenna Deaver and Program Manager Sadhana Tolani

“Our ultimate goal is to empower women by giving them the support they need to overcome the physical, emotional and social stigma barriers to breastfeeding their infants,” Deaver said. “This award reinforces the importance of our daily efforts and inspires our team to continue delivering excellent service to new mothers at a time when they most need that one-on-one support.”

Breastfeeding is important because it improves health by protecting moms and babies from a variety of diseases. It is also an effective way to fight childhood obesity. That’s why promoting and encouraging breastfeeding is a key focus in WIC.

The Pee Dee Region’s WIC program was specifically recognized for its partnerships with area hospitals. The program has agreements with more than 10 hospitals throughout the region enabling peer counselors to visit postpartum moms at bedsides to offer breastfeeding information and assistance. The counselors then provide follow-up support in home visits and at clinics.

WIC breastfeeding peer counselors are mothers who have successfully breastfed at least one baby and serve as mentors to new mothers who want to nurse. Tolani said the award was a great morale boost to staff and is the result of the hard work the WIC team has put in since the Loving Support breastfeeding peer counselor program began a decade ago.

Pee Dee Region Breastfeeding Peer Counselors (Left to Right): Shalandra Douglas, Connie Palmer, Jeanetta Dean, Corey Johnson, Tremelia Gore, Priscilla Moyd-McFadden and Renee’ Walker-Andrews

Pee Dee Region Breastfeeding Peer Counselors (Left to Right): Shalandra Douglas, Connie Palmer, Jeanetta Dean, Corey Johnson, Tremelia Gore, Priscilla Moyd-McFadden and Renee’ Walker-Andrews

Congratulations to this dedicated group of DHEC employees in the Pee Dee!

WIC Staff Learns Latest in Breastfeeding Science to Help Moms and Babies

By Mary-Kathryn Craft


DHEC’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program encourages moms to breastfeed their babies for the best start.

But it isn’t always easy, especially when moms must return to work, school or have premature babies still in the hospital. That’s why WIC offers an array of support services ranging from one-on-one help from peer counselors in the hospital shortly after mom gives birth to ongoing classes, support groups and encouraging phone calls and text messages.

Breastfeeding, which is being highlighted in August with National Breastfeeding Awareness Month, improves health by protecting moms and babies from a variety of diseases. It also is an effective way to fight childhood obesity.

WIC breastfeeding peer counselors, certified lactation counselors, registered dietitians and other staff this summer completed training on the latest in breastfeeding research and best practices on how to teach moms effective ways to use a breast pump.

More than 180 staff members from throughout the state attended the trainings held in Florence, Greenville, Lexington, and Walterboro.

For more information on breastfeeding resources and support from WIC, visit this page.

Find a WIC clinic near you here.

To find an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant near you, visit this site.

World Breastfeeding Week

By Mary-Kathryn Craft


World Breastfeeding Week offers a perfect time to highlight the health benefits of breastfeeding.

The annual observance, coordinated by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action, runs through Saturday. This year’s theme “Breastfeeding and Work: Let’s Make It Work!” focuses on supporting women who work and breastfeed. Whether a mother works in a formal, non-formal or home setting, she needs to feel empowered in her choice to breastfeed as it improves health for women and children.

Breastfeeding reduces a mom’s risk of:

  • Breast and ovarian cancer
  • Postpartum depression
  • Iron deficiency

Breastfeeding protects a baby from:

  • Ear infections
  • Diarrhea and other stomach issues
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Bone loss later in life

It also reduces risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), diabetes and obesity.

Creating and supporting breastfeeding-friendly workplaces is part of SCale Down’s A Healthier State initiative. Employers can find a variety of communication and other resources for implementing breastfeeding-friendly environments here.

This week has also been proclaimed National Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Breastfeeding Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

WIC is a supplemental nutrition program for moms, babies and children that also provides breastfeeding support and assistance. Breastfeeding peer counselors are available in WIC clinics throughout South Carolina. Find your nearest WIC location here.

This week DHEC health departments statewide are celebrating the observance with a variety of activities including displays, pump demonstrations, classes and activities designed to educate all employees and customers about the benefits of breastfeeding.

Learn more here about how WIC can help with breastfeeding. For general information about the benefits of breastfeeding, visit this page.