In August, the Sacramento County Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program was presented with the nationally recognized, “Gold Level, Loving Support Award of Excellence” by the United States Department of Agriculture. Sacramento County received this award for providing exemplary breastfeeding programs and support services to WIC clients.
The WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program started five years ago helping first-time mothers successfully breastfeed during the first six months after delivery. Peer Counselors provide support individually, through frequent contact with mothers over-the-phone and in-person. WIC also offers interactive group classes where moms are able to share and learn from each other’s experiences. Peer Counselors and other mothers in the program are a great resource for new mothers to ask questions and voice concerns about pregnancy and motherhood. International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC) are available for mothers who experience difficulty when beginning breastfeeding.
“When I spend time talking with the mothers we serve, I see the difference that our WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors make,” notes Sacramento County WIC Program Director Amelia Schendel, RD, IBCLC. “They pour their heart and souls into helping mothers nurse their little ones; their impact transcends culture, race, and ethnicity.”
Approximately 33.2 percent of mothers who participate in the Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program continue to exclusively breastfeed through the first six months which is higher than the state average of 29.75 percent.
The USDA developed the Loving Support Award of Excellence with the intent of helping to provide models, motivate local agencies and clinics to strengthen their breastfeeding promotion, support activities and ultimately increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.
“Breastfeeding is the most precious gift a mother can give her infant. When there is illness or malnutrition, it may be a lifesaving gift; when there is poverty, it may be the only gift,” said Dr. Ruth Lawrence, author and breast feeding expert.
If you are interested in learning more, please visit Sacramento County WIC Program, or take the online eligibility assessment to find out if you qualify.