March 22, 2023
WIC Program expands access to breastfeeding support services
MOBILE, Ala. — Unlimited, 24/7 access to infant feeding support is now available to participants served by the Alabama Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. This is done exclusively for WIC participants through a partnership with Pacify Health through one streamlined app at no cost to the mother.
The Alabama WIC Program will offer participants instantaneous video access to a nationwide network of International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (IBCLC’s), plus direct access to local WIC clinics across the state. Providing this type of support has been proven to help more parents start and continue breastfeeding for longer, which improves health outcomes for mothers and babies. Access to IBCLC’s may also help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, one of the three leading causes of Alabama’s persistently high infant mortality rate.
“WIC is excited to offer another breastfeeding resource to our participants,” said Meridith Gardner, who is an IBCLC at the Mobile County Health Department. “In addition to having an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff, WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselors, and Breastfeeding Support Groups on Zoom, we now have the Pacify app available to WIC breastfeeding mothers.
“Once the app is downloaded, moms need to contact their local WIC office to get a code to create their account with Pacify and then they have unlimited access to a Lactation Consultant any time of day or night! Since breastfeeding issues do not always happen during business hours, this is a great resource for breastfeeding moms.”
Gardner has been a lactation consultant since 2009. WIC has had Peer Counselors since 2005, starting at our TEEN Center location and calling all locations since 2010. She discusses the Pacify app in the latest edition of Wellness Wednesday, found at https://youtu.be/HqNn6MtxbKk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, among infants born in 2019, slightly more than 71 percent of infants in Alabama were ever breastfed, compared with greater than 83 percent across the United States. Less than 40 percent of Alabama infants were exclusively breastfed at 3 months, and less than 38 percent were still breastfeeding at 6 months.
Many protective health benefits are conferred by breastfeeding. For infants, these include fewer middle ear infections, fewer cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (a potentially fatal gastrointestinal disorder in premature infants), and fewer infant deaths. Breastfeeding can also reduce women’s risk for breast and ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
For more information on the local WIC program, visit https://mchd.org/wic or call 251-690-8829.