The Meigs County Health Department’s (MCHD) Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program joined the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA) in celebrating Breastfeeding Awareness Week on Aug. 1-7. WABA, which is a global network committed to the protection, promotion and support of breastfeeding worldwide, was formed on Feb. 14, 1991. This year’s WABA slogan is “Support Breastfeeding for a Healthier Planet.” The objectives are to inform people about the connection between breastfeeding and the environment/climate change; anchor breastfeeding as a climate-smart decision; engage with individuals and organizations for greater impact; incite action on improving the health of the planet and people through breastfeeding. Climate change and environmental deterioration are some of the challenges associated with food production systems and consumption patterns.
WIC is a nutrition education program for pregnant women, infants, and children up to the age of five. Although WIC offers formula to participants, it is, in fact, a breastfeeding organization. The Ohio WIC program is devoted to help make breastfeeding the cultural standard for infants. WIC offers education and support to women to facilitate educated feeding decisions while supporting the mother in her choice.
Breastfeeding is the most natural and ecological way to feed your baby. There are no risks of preservatives or contamination in breast milk. Feeding straight from the breast reduces waste and saves energy. Using breast pumps requires extra accessories and storage products; however, it is more earth-friendly than formula. Most of these accessories/products are reusable and, when you consider the waste created by formula manufacturing and packaging, feeding breast milk generates less waste and uses fewer natural resources.
During Breastfeeding Awareness Week, MCHD WIC staff members visited Holzer Medical Center and O’Bleness Memorial Hospital to deliver goody baskets for new mothers. As the Meigs County WIC Breastfeeding Peer Helper, I am responsible for providing information to pregnant and breastfeeding women; making referrals following policy and protocols; assisting with WIC breastfeeding activities. I have ongoing contact with pregnant or breastfeeding WIC participants at the clinic, on the telephone (in the clinic or at home as required) or by mail. I offer information to participants about positioning and latch-on; how to tell if baby is getting enough; how to make milk; normal infant behavior; how to return to work or school; how to wean. I also make referrals to the Lactation Consultant or other healthcare professionals as necessary and when appropriate; complete documentation on all nursing mothers; assist with group classes; conduct breastfeeding support meeting; issue breast pumps; assist the Lactation Consultants with home visits; serve as a breastfeeding resource person to WIC staff; maintain equipment and supplies necessary for the job; assist with clinic and health fair displays.
To see if you are eligible for WIC, call (740) 992-0392 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.). Any woman who is breastfeeding or who is interested in breastfeeding that is not enrolled in WIC can call or text me at (740) 444-3449. Our staff can help answer any breastfeeding questions or concerns.
Amber Evans is the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Helper at the Meigs County Health Department