Tag Archives: WIC

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!

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.​

Cooking Matters Program Teaches Healthy Meal Preparation

By Shorus E. Manning, RD, LD, DHEC SNAP-Education Dietitian

cooking matters lex

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Healthy Food Initiative works to empower low-income families, kids, and adults with the knowledge and skills to prepare healthy and tasty meals on a budget. As part of that effort, DHEC has partnered with Share our Strength’s Cooking Matters® program. Participants in the Cooking Matters program learn to shop smarter, use nutrition information to make healthier choices, and cook delicious, affordable meals. Courses and tours equip families with the skills they need to stretch their food dollars and maximize the benefits they receive through public nutrition programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps) and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children). Cooking Matters is currently in 27 states and has served more than 100,000 families across the country since its inception in 1993. DHEC’s Office of Professional & Community Nutrition Services oversees the Healthy Food Initiative and the partnership with Cooking Matters.

Cooking Matters Serves Families in Three Ways

Hands-On, Six-Week Courses

Community partners that serve low-income families offer six-week Cooking Matters courses to parents.  Team-taught by a volunteer chef and a nutrition educator, the course covers meal preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting and nutrition. At the end of each class, participants take a bag of groceries home.

Interactive Grocery Store Tours

Cooking Matters at the Store tours provide families with hands-on education as they shop for food. The tours give families skills to compare foods for cost and nutrition. Families learn how to plan and budget for healthy, affordable, and delicious meals.

Education-Based Outreach

Using Cooking Matters toolkits, handouts and recipes, DHEC presents nutritional information and conducts demonstrations at community events, fairs, and emergency food distribution sites.

Questions?  Email raaschac@dhec.sc.gov or call (803) 898-1629.

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!