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WIC Guidelines Encourage Breastfeeding

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As of October 1, the guidelines for WIC, known as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (up to age 5), changed its emphasis to more fresh fruit and vegetables, and less infant formula. There are now special incentives for women who breastfeed exclusively for six months.

Traditionally, the WIC infant food packages included big amounts of infant formula, except for the mothers who breastfed. Infants will now receive less formula. With the new rules, mothers of infants will receive different packages depending on whether or not they breastfeed exclusively, partially or depend exclusively on formula. Cash vouchers will be received by mothers and children for purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables. The vouchers are worth about $8 for every eligible woman or child. The cash value of these vouchers will vary, depending on whether a recipient is a woman or child and whether or not the woman is pregnant.

These guidelines, according to Kimberly St. Louis, of Womensenews, “provide groundbreaking support for breastfeeding.” Women who exclusively breastfeed will receive an enhanced food package. These mothers will continue to receive food packages 12 months after delivery.

Karla Shepard Rubinger, executive director at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, points out that WIC is an important voice for breastfeeding and these new incentives can help to spread the benefits of breastfeeding to more women and children.

The women who do not wish to breastfeed will receive infant formula and breastfeeding information packets.

The ones who partially breastfeed will receive one can of formula in the first month and are able to receive up to four cans in the first six months.

Cecilia Richardson, nutrition programs director at the National WIC Association, said, “WIC encourages mothers to breastfeed by issuing only one can of powder to supplement breast milk.”

These new guidelines are designed to give WIC state agencies the flexibility to accommodate cultural food preferences. For example, those who are lactose intolerant or who have cultural preferences in New York State can substitute one quart of soy milk or a pound of tofu for one quart of milk. Mothers can substitute whole grain bread for whole grain rice, barley, bulgur or corn tortillas. More canned fish such as salmon and sardines are being offered. One can also get canned beans.

All of these changes have been in-the-making since 2003 and now they have finally come to fruition.

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Most women that think they are not making enough milk or that their milk did not "come in" are mistaken and with a little help would have been able to breastfeed. It's so sad to read these posts.

September 30, 2010 - 7:23pm

You know, I'm all for encouraging breastfeeding! It is definitely best for baby, but what about moms like me who could not breastfeed? It wasn't by choice that my twins were formula fed, but I'd rather make sure they get a great nutrition than not enough because I couldn't produce enough milk to feed one baby let alone two.
The good news is that there are alternatives that will help parents who formula feed, who are on a tight budget as many who are on WIC are. Store Brand Infant Formulas are an excellent way to save up to 50% off of the National Name Brand formulas! Many parents aren't aware of the FDA regulations mandating that all infant formulas be made nutritionally equal. If you take a look at the labels on the Store Brand formulas and the Name Brands, you'll notice that they are almost identical. The main reason that there is such a major price difference is because of the marketing behind those name brands. The national brands spend so much money on their advertising and free samples that they give to the hospitals, and they pass on those costs to the consumer. The store brands don't have the big marketing costs, so they are able to provide their products at a much lower price, saving you some major money! You can use the savings calculator to see the major price differences! http://www.parentschoiceformula.com/baby-formula-savings-calculator.aspx

January 28, 2010 - 1:56pm

Dear Anonymous of Jan. 20,
I know that not all mothers are able to breastfeed, even though they try really hard.

January 20, 2010 - 2:40pm

Hi Rosa,
I wish you the best of luck in breastfeeding your second child. Besides being the best nourishment for the baby, breastfeeding creates a unique and wonderful bond between mother and child.

January 7, 2010 - 9:13am

I think this is a positive direction. Breastfeeding mothers on WIC are also given a lot more food for themselves and usually if they have a low income they will also get food stamps (though not through WIC).

I don't think it's fair to assume that they are all processed food eaters and to dismiss them as being uneducated enough not to know better than to eat junk food all day then breastfeed their child. Breast is best and although I did not breastfeed my first I am definitely looking forward to having better luck with my second.

January 7, 2010 - 6:13am

Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish your infant. Women who are totally unable to breastfeed should not be made to feel guilty.

January 6, 2010 - 3:24pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anna Portela)

I wasn't able to breastfeed because my milk never came in. My daughter was always hungry and she cried a lot because it. I had to switch to formula because of it. I always felt so guilty when I read just about anything online about babies. It seemed like everyone was screaming "BREASTFEED!". I don't think some people realize that some women just can't do it.

January 20, 2010 - 12:20pm

Is this really a good thing? Consider the conditions of the women on WIC assistance. The poor in this country are many times malnourished because they eat unhealthy foods. They live in areas that regular grocery stores don't serve. They don't have good transportation. The foods they are provided are many times processed foods and have too many sugars.. what mama eats.. the baby eats. Generally moms on WIC assistance have a history of bad diet and that will pass to their child. Formula, I believe, might be a better alternative for some babies because of the health of the mother.

I just hope they don't feel guilted into breast feeding. I have known so many women who get the guilt trip from family, friends and medical professionals and do so because of that and all the while, they prefer to bottle feed. These women practically break down because they are doing it for the wrong reasons and hate it.

I know it's the natural process but not every woman wants to.

January 6, 2010 - 1:27pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to CharlotteSal)

I suggested that you should take some time and really learn about breastfeeding. While it is the woman's choice to breastfeed, their diet does not have much of an impact on the quality of their breast milk. No one should have the right to tell a mother that her breast milk is not good enough.

January 8, 2010 - 12:06am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

VERY good point! A lot of women don't realize that even if a woman isn't eating right her breast milk is still best for her baby. Formula should be the very last thing a woman tries.
As for guilt... if a woman is not doing the best for her child in any other way we would expect her to feel guilty. 1 out of a 1000 can't breastfeed that is very few and an excuse I hear from many.

September 30, 2010 - 7:21pm
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