A peer counselor is a WIC mother just like you. She lives in your community and has breastfed her own baby. She has been carefully selected by WIC to help give new mothers information about feeding their babies. She is here to give you support to meet your own goals for feeding your baby.New mothers can be successful meeting their breastfeeding goals with the loving support of family, community and healthcare providers. They value sharing experiences with other mothers to help overcome barriers and for positive support and encouragement when concerns arise. Numerous studies show that peer counselors have a dramatic impact on breastfeeding initiation and duration rates because they give new mothers what they need most, a trusted friend who has been there.
Who Is a WIC Peer Counselor?
A breastfeeding peer counselor with the USDA's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is a paraprofessional who:
- Has personal breastfeeding experience
- Lives in the community and is part of the population group served by WIC
- Has been carefully selected by WIC and trained in basic breastfeeding techniques and counseling skills
- Gives basic breastfeeding information and support to new mothers
- Desires to help mothers achieve their own breastfeeding goals
How Can a Peer Counselor Help You?
Your WIC peer counselor can give you:
- Tips for how to breastfeed comfortably and discreetly, even in public
- Ways you can stay close to your baby through breastfeeding after you return to work or school
- Ideas for getting support from your family and friends
- Ways to get a good start with breastfeeding
- Secrets for making plenty of breast milk for your baby
- Help with breastfeeding concerns
What Does a Peer Counselor Do?
Peer counselors help mothers with normal breastfeeding and refer mothers experiencing concerns outside the norm to health professionals. Typically, peer counselors give information and support on:
- Reasons to breastfeed
- How to address common barriers, including embarrassment, returning to work, and lack of support from family and friends
- Getting a good start with breastfeeding
- Maintaining a healthy milk supply
- Preventing common concerns such as sore nipples and engorgement
- Strategies for getting through the first weeks home with baby
- How to know breastfeeding is going well
- How to know when to call for help
- Resources, including breast pumps, available to mothers
A peer counselor also:
- Listens to you
- Contacts you during your pregnancy to answer your infant feeding questions and helps you prepare for having a new baby
- Answers any questions or concerns you might have after your baby is born
- Shows you how to get more help from other healthcare professionals, if needed
For more information on Peer Counseling, contact Michelle Hoff at (772) 873-4891 or FAX (772) 871-5285.