Font Size:

Breastfeeding

How WIC Supports Breastfeeding (Checklist)Breastfeeding is one of the most important gifts you can give your baby. Breastfeeding provides many health, nutritional, emotional, and economic benefits to mothers and babies. Babies who are breastfed have reduced risk for numerous health conditions, including asthma, ear and respiratory infections, and allergies. Babies who are breastfed also have lower lifetime risk for health conditions such as obesity and cardiovascular disease. Mothers who breastfeed for at least six months reduce their risk for Type II diabetes, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer. The longer a woman breastfeeds during her lifetime, the more her risk is reduced.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2030 establishes objectives to improve the health and safety of infants, including increasing exclusive infant breastfeeding through 6 months old and increasing breastfeeding throughout a child's first year.

Breastfeeding ABC's

Often, mothers begin the breastfeeding journey with their newborns, but stop breastfeeding sooner than planned. One of the most common reasons mothers give for stopping breastfeeding is a concern about low milk production. During pregnancy, hormones prepare a mother's breasts to produce milk. At delivery, a sudden shift in hormones signals her body to start producing large amounts of breast milk. During the first hours after delivery, mothers can use simple strategies, the "ABC's of breastfeeding," to set the stage for abundant milk production.

WIC Supports Breastfeeding

A major goal of the WIC Program is to improve the nutritional status of infants, so the WIC Program encourages WIC mothers to choose breastfeeding in the following ways:

  • WIC mothers are provided with breastfeeding information and support during pregnancy and throughout each stage of the breastfeeding journey to help them meet their breastfeeding goals.
  • Breastfeeding mothers are eligible to participate in WIC longer than non-breastfeeding mothers.
  • Mothers who exclusively breastfeed receive a larger amount and variety of foods.
  • WIC breastfeeding mothers may be eligible to receive breast pumps and other breastfeeding items, if needed, to help support the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding.
  • To help strengthen Alabama's breastfeeding support network, Alabama WIC provides the Alabama Breastfeeding Resource Guide, which is updated annually. Individuals and organziations that provide breastfeeding support may use the attached form to submit information for the Guide.

Relactation

Relactation is the process of re-establishing lactation after having stopped for some time and can also refer to increasing milk supply after a decrease in breastfeeding has occurred – a mother might have stopped breastfeeding earlier than planned or mother and infant might have been separated because of illness, resulting in reduced milk supply.

The process to relactate or build back a declining milk supply requires time and dedication. Not all mothers will be able to establish a full milk supply through relactation. Infants must continue to receive adequate nutrition while mothers work to relactate or build milk supply. As breast milk supply increases, it may be possible to reduce or discontinue formula feedings; however, infant growth should be carefully monitored during the transition.

WIC participants can contact their WIC clinic for help with developing a plan that supports achievement of relactation goals, establishes realistic expectations, and safeguards infant growth. Below are some relactation resources that parents may find helpful.





Page last updated: September 20, 2022