Breastfeeding is a natural process that benefits babies and moms, but it doesn’t always come easy. Learning breastfeeding skills while coping with exhaustion and the ups and downs of being a new mom can be overwhelming and frustrating.
Sometimes, a quick tip or encouraging word can make the difference between a mom quitting or sticking with a breastfeeding routine that can be invaluable to her child’s long-term health.
Moms enrolled in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program have access to a new texting support service that connects them to peers who have experience breastfeeding and special training to provide lactation advice and education.
“Breastfeeding is a constantly changing process,” said Arin Daigneau, director of the WIC program at Northwest Colorado Health. “It can be easy to quit, but we want to give mothers as many tools as possible so they feel supported and confident in continuing.”
WIC is a free nutrition program for young families that includes support for women who are breastfeeding. Daigneau and her staff meet regularly with clients, helping them manage changes in baby behavior, milk supply, work schedules and other factors affecting breastfeeding routines.
The peer counseling text program adds another level of support to help moms with questions that inevitably arise between appointments.
“We want them to know we are always here for them, but this can really help in instances when they need quick answers,” Diagneau said.
Maybe a mom isn’t sure if she can take a medication while breastfeeding or doesn’t know how long she can keep breast milk in the refrigerator. She might have pain while breastfeeding or is worried because her baby is not eating or wants to eat constantly. Guidance through these types of concerns can boost her determination to keep going.
The texting service, based in Pueblo, is available seven days a week until 10 p.m. Once a mom starts using the program, she is connected with the same peer counselor every time she texts.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women breastfeed their babies for at least 12 months. Research suggests breast fed babies have lower risk of obesity, asthma, ear infections, eczema, type 2 diabetes and other health problems.
Moms benefit too. Breastfeeding helps them recover from childbirth quicker and may also lower their risk of type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancers. These benefits are dose-related – the more a mom breastfeeds, the more it benefits her and her baby.
Colorado receives federal funding to administer WIC through local organizations such as Northwest Colorado Health. Established in 1974, the WIC program seeks to improve the health of low-income women and young children with nutrition education and healthy foods. Women who meet income requirements and participate in regular counseling sessions receive eWIC cards to purchase WIC-eligible foods. Breastfeeding moms also have access to breast pumps.
WIC educators at Northwest Colorado Health serve as advocates, connecting clients with health resources and educating them about laws such as the Colorado Workplace Accommodations Act, which requires employers provide women reasonable time and a private place to express milk. Health educators also are available to help employers meet those requirements.
For more information about WIC, visit northwestcoloradohealth.org/wic or call 970-871-7653.