Breastfeeding is an important part of nutrition for infants and young children. The MSDH Women, Infants, and Children’s nutrition program provides services and support for mothers who are breastfeeding.
- Breastfeeding mothers receive one-on-one and group support through peer counselors.
- Breastfeeding mothers can receive breast pumps, breast shells, and/ or nursing supplements to help support breastfeeding.
- Mothers who exclusively breastfeed their infants receive an enhanced food package.
- Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
The Mississippi WIC Program provides trained breastfeeding staff to provide education and support to WIC participants. Three levels of support are available.
- Peer Counselor 1
The Peer Counselor 1 is a woman who successfully breastfed an infant for at least 3 months. Their primary responsibility is to provide information about breastfeeding and to support and encourage WIC participants to learn more about breastfeeding and make informed decisions about breastfeeding. These individuals are usually previous WIC participants.
- Peer Counselor 2
The Peer Counselor 2 (previously called Lactation Specialist) provides specialized breastfeeding support and assistance to WIC participants including home visits, hospital visits, hosting support group meetings, and issuing breastfeeding devices as needed. She makes hospital visits when an arrangement has been made with the hospital administration, referral from the client’s physician, or to issue a pump to a high risk mother. The Peer Counselor has a combination of college education and personal breastfeeding experience.
- Peer Counselor 3
The Peer Counselor 3 has specialized breastfeeding training and breastfeeding credentials, such as Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) or International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). These individuals are healthcare professionals who specialize in the clinical management of breastfeeding. They are trained to handle more complex breastfeeding issues. The Peer Counselor 3 provides specialized assistance for high risk WIC participants, including hospital rounds, home visits, clinic consultations, and issuing breastfeeding devices.
All WIC staff receive training on the benefits of breastfeeding, how their position is involved with breastfeeding promotion and support, and the breastfeeding management and education appropriate to the level of assistance they will provide for WIC participants.
Clinic staff, WIC breastfeeding staff, and other healthcare professionals have abundant breastfeeding resources to guide them in providing accurate, consistent breastfeeding information to WIC participants, including drug 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.