Breastfeeding is an important part of nutrition for infants and young children. The MSDH Women, Infants and Children's nutritional program provides services and support for mothers who are breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
- Breastfeeding mothers receive follow-up support through peer counselors.
- Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.
- Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps, breast shells, or nursing supplementers to help support their breastfeeding.
The Mississippi WIC Program provides trained breastfeeding staff to provide education and support to WIC participants. Three levels of support are available at the local level:
Peer Counselors are women who have successfully breastfed an infant for at least six months. They usually are or have been WIC participants. Their primary responsibility is to provide information about breastfeeding and to support and encourage WIC participants by telephone.
Lactation Specialists provide specialized breastfeeding support and assistance to WIC participants including home visits, telephone follow-up, and issuing breastfeeding devices as needed. Lactation Specialists also make hospital visits when an arrangement has been made with the hospital administration, or referral from the client's physician.
Lactation Specialists have a combination of college education and personal breastfeeding experience.
An International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) is a health care professional who specializes in the clinical management of breastfeeding. These staff are trained to handle more complex breastfeeding issues. IBCLCs are certified by the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners, Inc. under the direction of the US National Commission for Certifying Agencies.
Lactation Consultants are available in some areas of the state to provide specialized assistance for high-risk WIC participants. Lactation Consultants provide hospital rounds, home visits, clinic counseling and education, telephone follow-ups and issue breastfeeding devices as needed. Lactation Consultants also serve as breastfeeding resources for Mississippi Department of Health Clinic Staff , WIC Breastfeeding Staff and Community Health Professionals.
All staff receive training on the benefits of breastfeeding, how their position is involved with breastfeeding promotion and support, and breastfeeding management and education appropriate to the level of assistance they will provide for WIC participants.
Clinic staff, WIC Breastfeeding staff, and other health professionals, have abundant breastfeeding resources to guide them in providing accurate, consistent breastfeeding information to WIC participants, including drugs and lactation information resources and other medical texts. The WIC Central Office provides a list of approved resources and can assist staff with obtaining information and resources for specialized situations.