Breastfeeding Support is Close By

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Creative Commons License photo credit: ammgramm

Over  the past couple of decades, breastfeeding has been getting a lot of attention among pregnant women and among health providers who treat women. The benefits to both mother and baby make a compelling case for breastfeeding, and more and more communities are developing breastfeeding support systems.





Take, for example, a new peer-to-peer breastfeeding program in Michigan. This program is run in Washtenaw County, and it’s targeted at low income mothers. Low income mothers are around 65% less likely to breastfeed than other women.

The program connects women who have previously been successful at breastfeeding and pairs them with new moms who may need help, guidance, or support during the breastfeeding process.

Michigan ranks low in breastfeeding

The state of Michigan falls at 37th among the states in number of moms who have, at any point, breastfed their babies. Consider some of the relevant numbers:

  • 69.3% of moms in Michigan say that they did start to breastfeed, according to the CDC.
  • By the time babies are 3 months old, only 31 percent of mothers in Michigan were still exclusively breastfeeding.
  • 16% of moms continued to the six month mark.

Why peer support is better than professional support

According to studies, peer support is much more effective than encouragement and education from professionals like doctors and lactation consultants.

The program in Michigan actually employs a total of 85 moms throughout the state of Michigan. The program is funded by the WIC program using federal funds. The mothers who help with peer-to-peer breastfeeding support are themselves WIC recipients.

Women benefit from relating to moms who have been in their shoes. The peer support can say “I know what you’re going through, and here’s what I did to make it through.”

The program tries to capture pregnant women when they first apply for WIC benefits. This allows early intervention, helping to prepare the moms ahead of time, and educate them about the benefits of breastfeeding.

As essential need

The program is doing what traditional approaches to breastfeeding support have not been able to do: reach many low-income women who may not have support in their communities.

So, what do you think? Should we see more of these programs nationwide?


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