ST. PAUL (Aug. 6, 2013) — The Saint Paul/Ramsey County Public Health’s Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Program reminds new and expecting mothers that babies who are breastfed are generally healthier and less likely to develop a wide range of diseases compared to those who are fed formula milk.
August is Minnesota Breastfeeding Awareness Month, and Saint Paul – Ramsey County WIC is joining with other organizations to increase awareness of, and support for breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding is important for both mother and baby. Human milk is tailored to the needs of the human infant,” said Mary Peick, Saint Paul – Ramsey County WIC Program Manager.
Peick noted that research shows infants who are not exclusively breastfed for their first six months of life are more likely to develop a wide range of chronic and acute diseases, including ear infections, diarrheal diseases, asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, obesity and respiratory illnesses.
“Mothers also benefit from breastfeeding with a decreased risk for breast and ovarian cancers,” said Peick.
In Minnesota, the majority of mothers breastfeed. However many stop breastfeeding earlier than planned, or do not breastfeed at all, because they face multiple and complex barriers that keep them from achieving their personal breastfeeding goals.
“Support and encouragement from family, friends, employers, communities, health care and child care providers is vital to reducing barriers and helping moms who wish to breastfeed overcome the barriers they do encounter,” said Peick.
WIC staff throughout Minnesota answers questions, help address barriers, provide information to pregnant women and assist new mothers in getting off to a great start with breastfeeding.
Saint Paul – Ramsey County’s WIC Program has a number of resources available at www.co.ramsey.mn.us/ph/wic/breastfeeding.htm#web_resources for women looking for more information about help with breastfeeding.
Ramsey County also provides direct information and support to WIC mothers to encourage breastfeeding. The County has Peer Breastfeeding Counselors who have successful breastfed who are multilingual, and work directly with other WIC mothers to overcome barriers to breastfeeding.
WIC is a nutrition education program that provides vouchers for free, nutritious foods for pregnant, breastfeeding, and postpartum women, and for infants and children up to the fifth birthday. Participants in the WIC Program also receive a health assessment, nutrition counseling, and referrals to services in their neighborhood.
To receive WIC benefits, a participant must have a health need that nutrition education and WIC foods can help, and have household income that falls within certain guidelines.