The Laramie County WIC Clinic celebrated the mother baby bond with an open house in their community. Sonya Miller, MS, RD, LD, CLC, Registered Dietitian and Breastfeeding Coordinator and her colleagues catered snacks made with WIC foods: veggie muffins made with applesauce, fruit infused water, tortilla chips, bean dip and salsa, along with recipes on how to recreate these snacks at home. Attendees received tiedyed onesies stenciled with “Peace Love Breastfeeding” and other empowering messages. Lactation professionals, public health nurses and other community members gathered to honor A Winning Goal- For Life!
Laramie County WIC Clinic, like other WIC clinics, serves many young mothers facing challenges specific to teen parenting.
There is a stigma attached to being a young mother, Miller explains.
Because new laws meant to protect working, breastfeeding mothers are not taking effect efficiently, Miller finds clients of all ages discontinuing exclusive breast milk feeding when returning to work or school.
WIC supports breastfeeding moms by providing hospital grade pumps for high risk medical or breastfeeding concerns and hand pumps for moms pumping occasionally. WIC also assists moms returning to work in navigating the often complex process of obtaining a pump through their insurance provider.
“We’d love to support moms returning to work even better, but there’s just not enough funds to provide an electric pump for everyone,” Miller says.
Wyoming’s exclusive breastfeeding rates at six months are just over 16 percent as recently reported in the 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card. This number changed since last year’s report when exclusive breastfeeding at six months hovered around 25 percent.
Healthy Children Project’s Cindy Turner-Maffei, MA, ALC, IBCLC offers an explanation for these occasional variances from year to year.
The National Immunization Survey (NIS)– the source of the breastfeeding rate data– reports small sample sizes, albeit regionally representative.
“CDC folks have warned that when a state changes quartile ranking from one year to the next it may mean little or nothing, because of the limited sample size,” Turner-Maffei explains. “If a trend continues up or down over the course of several years, that likely denotes an important change.”
The number of women exclusively breastfeeding at six months is likely small in a state with limited population, like Wyoming with just over 7,500 births in 2012, which may cause quite a bit of variance in percents from year to year, she continues.
The inclusion of cell phones and landlines for the random digit dial NIS Survey may also affect data.
Turner-Maffei points to Breastfeeding Among U.S. Children Born 2001–2011, CDC National Immunization Survey for interesting comparison charts.
The 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card indicates that the number of Certified Lactation Counselors (CLCs) per 1,000 live births is over five times greater than the U.S. national average.
CLCs provide breastfeeding education and counseling and can help mothers initiate and continue breastfeeding. The Lactation Counselor Training Course requires participants to pass a certification exam administered by The Academy of Lactation Policy and Practice (TALPP). The CLC certification is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Miller was 37 weeks pregnant when she took The Lactation Counselor Training Course through Healthy Children Project.
On Friday evening after Miller completed the final exam, her membranes ruptured.
“Sam was born exactly two weeks early to a brand new CLC!” Miller exclaims. “Talk about good timing.”
Miller is realistically optimistic about growing breastfeeding rates in her community.
“It’s just one step at a time,” she says. “The openness to at least trying has hugely increased over the last three years.”
Laramie County WIC Clinic offers comprehensive prenatal breastfeeding education, which Miller says allows her clients to plan according to their needs after the birth of their babies.
In partnership with Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) – the local hospital, Laramie County WIC and the FEWAFB WIC Clinic, also operated by CRMC, are federally funded by the Wyoming Department of Health, WIC Program.
Because the Laramie County WIC Clinic is employed by the local hospital, clients are able to work closely with the lactation nurses. This relationship offers a unique opportunity for continuity of care.
Miller and her colleagues typically visit with clients three times before their expected due dates. The first visit offers mothers an opportunity to express how they feel about their infant feeding options. Miller typically discusses the benefits of breastfeeding during the second visit. The last visit covers breastfeeding specifics including the importance of immediate skin to skin contact and helps mothers envision what to expect breastfeeding a newborn.
Ideally, Miller sees her clients at the clinic within their first week postpartum.
“That’s when a lot of them get discouraged [with breastfeeding],” she explains. “We try to catch them as early as possible.”
Fortunately, CRMC is currently working toward Baby-Friendly designation. Immediate skin to skin contact between mother and baby has become common practice at the birthing facility.
“I got to experience this first hand,” Miller says.
Even so, Miller says she and Sam endured their “fair share of breastfeeding challenges” including bleeding, cracked nipples and over 50 plugged ducts over the course of their 11- months- and- counting breastfeeding relationship.
“But we’ve stuck with it and are glad we did,” she says. “He has never needed a drop of formula.”
Miller reports never giving herself the option to not breastfeed. She credits her colleagues, friends and “incredibly supportive husband” for helping her achieve her Winning Goal.
To learn more about WIC and breastfeeding visit http://www.fns.usda.gov/wic/breastfeeding-promotion-and-support-wic.
To find a Lactation Counselor Training Course near you click here.