Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Is WIC Really Pro Breastfeeding?

I have been receiving the government program WIC (Women Infant and Children) for some time now. This program is for pregnant or breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 to help supplement their dietary needs by giving them things like milk, eggs, cereal, and peanut butter. It also provides baby formula.

This time with Alyssa I have been determined to exclusively breastfeed her. And I have been successful so far for the first three months of her life. The only formula she had was a couple of ounces at birth and that wasn't even from a bottle. I must say, I am very proud of myself. I chose not to breastfeed Natalie at all for numerous reasons. It was just the right thing for our family at the time. Then when Kaitlyn was born I wanted to give it a try, but she stopped latching on a few days in. Then when CJ came along I thought well, I'll try again. But when I was going to have the c-section I said never mind try I'm doing this because I was worried I would have a hard time bonding with him if I didn't since I wasn't going to get to hold him right after birth. We did it for 3 months, but I was forced to stop when he was 3 months old because of our stupid pediatrician at that time. I was so angry that I had to stop. I enjoyed my time with CJ doing that.

So when I got pregnant with Alyssa I decided that we are going to do this completely differently. We are really going to do it right. I insisted on no pacifiers in the beginning until we established breastfeeding and no bottles at all. I've really had to be strong and stand up for this. In the hospital when they wanted to give her formula they were hesitant about giving it to her any other way but in the bottle. Then when we had to get blood work done when she was 3 days old the person who drew her blood wanted to give her a pacifier which I said no way too. You could tell she did not approve because she didn't want to hear her scream and she handed it to me thinking that I would change my mind, but I didn't. Not sure what the deal is with our society that doesn't support breastfeeding and helping a woman have the best start at that. It's really not a wonder that so many women have so much trouble. If we had more support, then maybe more women would do it and do it for an extended amount of time.

Now WIC is a program that wants children to have a healthy start. There are signs all over the office saying breast is best, but they certainly don't make it seem that way. When I went to put Alyssa on WIC after she was born the nutritionist had asked me about breastfeeding and if I was going to feed her breastmilk exclusively. I told her yes I was and she said that's great, but if you ever have any trouble just give us a call and we'll get you checks for formula. What? Shouldn't you be encouraging a woman to continue breastfeeding as long as possible? Don't give her an out. Why not have lactation consultants on hand? Why not offer vouchers for nursing bras and shirts? Why not give nursing moms breast pumps? I mean if you add up how much they are spending on a baby on formula every month I guarantee you offering lactation consultants, breast pumps, and nursing clothing would cost much less. Yes, it's a nutrition program, but if the best nutrition for baby is breastmilk then maybe the best way to make sure babies are getting the best nutrition they can get is by making sure mom has all of the things she needs to be successful at breastfeeding.

I recently went back to WIC to pick up my checks. A different nutritionist was talking to me and was shocked to find out that I was still breastfeeding exclusively and intended to do it as long as possible. That's really sad. This woman sees hundreds of women with babies and she's shocked that my 3 month old daughter is still exclusively breastfed. She did ask how it was going and if I had any questions. I can honestly say that I don't know if I had mentioned anything about cracked nipples she would do anything to help with that, but given their quickness to offer up formula I'm willing to bet that I probably wouldn't have gotten too much support.

So it really makes me wonder if the WIC program is doing everything possible to support breastfeeding, or if they are receiving kick backs from the formula companies to push formula much like hospitals are. Because saying breast is best, but in the same breath telling people, but if you can't do it just let us know and we'll help you out with formula certainly does not sound like the WIC program believes breast is best for baby.


The Elwood Family said...

I don't know about the different WIC offices in the state, but when I had Ben my middle son we got WIC and I was offered a LC and a breast pump with him... I don't think they do nursing clothing though.

Unfortunately he had a huge allergy to my milk and needed formula anyways. Maybe things changed in the past 2 years though.