Removing funding earmarked for breastfeeding peer counselors will reduce a number of jobs and keep women from reaching their own breastfeeding goals. Peer counselors increase breastfeeding initiation and duration and make communities more supportive of breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding are numerous and have been encouraged by everyone from the AAP to the Surgeon General. The demographic that WIC serves often has many challenges to breastfeeding, and peer counselors may be their only true help.
Women are falling short of their breastfeeding goals in droves. This is important, because breastfed babies are healthier, as are their mothers. Breastfeeding mothers are less likely to abuse their babies, suffer postpartum depression, miss work or school, and are more likely to lose pregnancy weight faster. There are a plethora of health benefits to the baby, too.
Recently, the House Appropriations Subcommittee passed a budget for WIC that did not allow earmarked money for breastfeeding peer counselors. This is a grievous mistake. Mothers on WIC often have limited ability to get breastfeeding help and support, and are in danger of weaning early. This translates into more money spent on formula through the program, and more money spent on state insurance plans as babies who are not breastfed are known to be ill more often.
We urge you to reverse this decision this month and to maintain those funds for this very necessary and helpful program.