My name is Jessica Howell. I’m from Jackson, Ohio, but I moved to Long Bottom about two years ago with my parents and my daughter. I attended the University of Cincinnati for three years, pursuing a degree in Biology as an Arts & Sciences major. After receiving news about my precious daughter, I decided to begin anew with the love and support that I knew I would have with my parents. We all moved to the country together, and I’ve never been happier. It’s been an adjustment moving from the city, but I wouldn’t change it for a minute. Rural Meigs County is absolutely beautiful and I look forward to all of the experiences often associated with country living. I never imagined I would have to slow down for turkey crossing.
I have worked for the Meigs County Health Department since November 2018 as a Breastfeeding Peer Helper, and I love what I do. My job is to reach out to expectant and breastfeeding mothers. I am part of their support team, and I assist them in any way I can; that may be answering a simple question, providing supplies, or making referrals. I also demonstrate breastfeeding with my daughter, Roselyn, and I provide any information and guidance I can to a new breastfeeding mother. Motherhood is particularly challenging in the beginning and it’s very important that these moms have someone to help them jump over any hurdles they may face. I have learned so much from being a part of the WIC staff, and I’ve very grateful for the opportunity to work with such a fun and friendly department.
Breastfeeding Awareness Month, or BAM, is during the entire month of August. Our goal is to spread as much information about breastfeeding as possible to those that may be ill-informed or just don’t know a lot about it. This month is a means of spreading the word in hopes that more mothers will give breastfeeding a chance because it truly is the most natural nutrition a mother can provide her young. The WIC women will be visiting hospitals during the first week of August and speaking with new moms about the benefits of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not only beneficial to the infant, but also the mother. It can reduce the child’s risk of asthma, Type II Diabetes, childhood obesity, allergies, and many more. As well as reducing the mother’s risk of ovarian and breast cancer, Type II Diabetes, and often helps get back to Pre-pregnancy weight. It’s also wonderful in aiding mothers that suffer with Postpartum Depression because it releases Oxytocin, the “happy” hormone with each nurse. The milk, itself has antibacterial properties that can be used, medicinally, for pink eye and diaper rashes, as well as dry, sore nipples. There is no stronger bond than physically providing nutrition to her baby, and breast-feeding should be normalized.
WIC welcomes expectant moms, breast-feeding mothers and children aged birth to 5 years of age in need of assistance for their children upon eligibility determination. Breastfeeding mothers who are not eligible for WIC benefits can still receive help. Contact the Meigs County WIC Office at 740.992.0392, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.
Jessica Howell is the Breastfeeding Peer Helper at the Meigs County Health Department’s WIC Program.