ESCANABA - Empowering Women through Mother-to-Mother Breastfeeding Support.
August is Breastfeeding Awareness Month in Michigan. This year's theme "Breastfeeding Support: Close to Mothers, " highlights the importance of peer support.
Public Health, Delta and Menominee Counties (PHDM) offers Breastfeeding Peer Counseling in conjunction with its WIC Program. Through the Peer Program, moms can find encouragement, answers to their questions, and an opportunity to share experiences with a trained Breastfeeding Peer Counselor.
"We know how valuable breastfeeding can be, and we encourage all moms who are able to initiate breastfeeding," says Casey Young, Registered Dietitian and Breastfeeding Coordinator for the WIC Program at Public Health, Delta & Menominee Counties (PDHM). "Our Peer can be a great resource for new moms who have questions and those with experience who may run into challenges."
Dr. Jamie Longhurst, family practice physician with Marquette Medical Clinic in Gladstone and breastfeeding mom of three, agrees that breast is best.
"Compared to formula-fed infants, breast fed infants have less visits to see me for acute illnesses such as ear infections, respiratory infections, and gastroenteritis," she said. "Breastfed infants also have less colic, gassiness, fussiness, constipation, and diarrhea. The benefits of breastfeeding persist even after a mother is done nursing, with some studies showing a decreased risk of obesity, allergies, and diabetes in breastfed infants."
Mallory Brockman has been the Peer Counselor for PHDM since the program began nearly two years ago.
"As a peer counselor it is my job is to meet with pregnant moms who are interested in breastfeeding and to meet with moms who are breastfeeding who might be having some problems," she said. "I became very passionate about breastfeeding when I had my daughter, and I love that I get to share my experiences and training with other moms."
PHDM has seen an increase in breastfeeding initiation rates since the Peer Program began in 2011.
Currently 71 percent of all the infants enrolled have initiated breastfeeding compared to 66 percent a year and a half ago. When including only those infants whose mothers were on the WIC Program prenatally, the initiation rate jumps to 84 percent.
"That figure tells me what we are doing in our clinic with prenatal breastfeeding education and support is making a difference," says Young.
Taryn, a first time breastfeeding mom, found the Peer Counseling program to be very helpful. "I made it four months which I am proud of myself for, and Mallory helped make that possible with all her suggestions and support."
For more information on the WIC Peer Counseling Program, call Mallory at (906) 786-4111, ext. 8171, or search PHDM WIC Breastfeeding Support on Facebook.