(Salt Lake City, UT) – Today is the first day of World Breastfeeding Week and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) has recognized four local health departments with a Loving Support Award for Excellence.
These prestigious awards are given to Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) agencies with exemplary peer counselor programs which lead to an increase in the number of WIC participants who were exclusively breastfeeding their babies at six months.
The Davis County Health Department and the Utah County Health Department received Gold Premiere Awards, demonstrating strong partnerships that work together to promote and support a mother’s breastfeeding success. At the Davis County Health Department, a partnership between WIC and the local hospital has led to breastfeeding support classes which are taught by a qualified lactation consultant, and offered in addition to regular breastfeeding class. The curriculum includes methods of baby care that support breastfeeding. In Utah County, the WIC program has developed a procedure manual that provides a detailed outline of the Breastfeeding Peer Counseling program, which includes the goal of increasing the number of mothers who breastfeed their babies to 60% by the year 2020.
Two other local health departments, the TriCounty Health Department and the Tooele County Health Department, received Gold Awards. These awards are given to recognize and celebrate local agencies that have been operating a peer counseling program for a least one year and meet all of the core components of the FNS Loving Support© Model for a Successful Peer Counseling Program.
Exclusive breastfeeding for six months provides the most health benefits for babies and mothers. Although women are aware that breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for their infants, many are uncertain about what to expect and how to actually carry it out.
“WIC agencies that use the USDA Loving Support© Model program enlist the help of mothers who have had personal experience with breastfeeding and are trained to provide basic breastfeeding support and education to other mothers. These peer counselors are then paired with other mothers based on similar characteristics such as languages spoken, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. This helps ensure information is provided in a socially and culturally sensitive way and promotes breastfeeding as a healthy part of development for both mothers and babies,” said Chris Furner, WIC program manager at the Utah Department of Health.
The WIC program provides services and supplemental foods to pregnant women, new mothers, infants, and children up to their 5th birthday. For more information about the WIC program and to see if you qualify for WIC, visit https://wic.utah.gov/.
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