The USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children – better known as the WIC Program – serves to safeguard the health of low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating including breastfeeding promotion and support, and referrals to health care.
WIC promotes breastfeeding as the optimal method of infant feeding. Studies show:
- WIC participants who reported having received advice to breastfeed their babies from the WIC clinic were more likely to breastfeed than other WIC participants or eligible nonparticipants
- The program’s breastfeeding policy and program activities were strengthened in the early 1990’s
- Between 1996 and 2001, the percentage of participating mothers breastfeeding in the hospital increased by almost 25 percent, from 46.6 to 58.2 percent
The percentage of participating infants breastfeeding at six months of age increased by 61.2 percent, from 12.9 to 20.8 percent
- For those infants who are fed infant formula, 90 percent received iron-fortified formula, which is recommended for nearly all non-breastfed infants for the first year of life.
All WIC staff members receive breastfeeding education using the USDA curriculum, Grow and Glow. The curriculum focuses on exclusive breastfeeding, barriers, new mothers, continuing breastfeeding, and solutions for breastfeeding complications. The training resources have staff complete worksheets, posters, activities, and speaker notes.
Did you know?
The LiquidGoldConcept Lactation Simulation Model Case Series can easily be used for providing breastfeeding education to WIC staff, peer counselors, and clients. This open-access video series demonstrates essential breastfeeding skills such as hand expression of breastmilk, setting up and using a breast pump, and breast massage techniques for alleviating plugged ducts and engorgement.