A new program developed by NWGPH, called Breastfeeding Peer Counseling, will offer education and support to mothers.
According to a news release from NWGPH, through the program, local public health staff identifies current or former breastfeeding Women Infants and Children clients meeting certain criteria to work as peer counselors in their county.
“The program was designed to provide and/or strengthen the often missing or weak support-component of the three legs to breastfeeding — promotion, education and support,” according to WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Supervisor Lisa Whitfield.
“We train, then hire the peer counselors to work in conjunction with our WIC office and WIC staff at the local health departments to promote breastfeeding, educate the public, as well as clients, about the benefits of breastfeeding and market WIC services,” she said.
But the true highlight of the new program is the support peer counselors offer to pregnant and postpartum women, Whitfield said. BFPC peer counselors are available to provide advice, support and referrals to program clients almost any time, through in-clinic visits, phone calls or text messages.
Breastfeeding is recommended for new mothers, Sexton said.
“Beginning breastfeeding within the first hour of a baby’s life, exclusively breastfeeding for six months and continued breastfeeding for two years and beyond, provides the best nutrition for babies,” Sexton said.
“We recommend exclusive breastfeeding until a baby is six months old and continued breastfeeding with the addition of nutritious complementary foods for up to two years or beyond.”
Breastfeeding has several benefits to the mother and the child, she said.
“Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of severe lower respiratory tract infection, middle ear infections and sudden death syndrome in children — and lowers the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease throughout her life,” Sexton said.
August is World Breastfeeding Month. The Floyd County Health Department, in conjunction with Northwest Georgia Public Health WIC, will host a social for breastfeeding WIC mothers at the health department, 16 East 12th Street, on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
Contact the health department at 706-295-6123 for more information.