The Norwalk Health Department (NHD) educates, encourages, and supports individuals in their breastfeeding goals through the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program and other outreach efforts. The WIC program is a federally funded supplemental nutrition program available to pregnant and postpartum individuals, infants, and children up to 5 years old who meet income eligibility criteria. WIC provides clients with nutrition education and counseling, breastfeeding promotion and support, nutritious foods, and help in accessing community resources. In addition to providing education and support, NHD also offers a private space at the office for clients to breastfeed or pump.
In honor of August being National Breastfeeding Week and World Breastfeeding Month, NHD WIC staff hosted various special events throughout the month. The special events provided information and support to the community for breastfeeding, including an event at Stepping Stones Museum for Children that offered breastfeeding promotional materials, giveaways, and education and the hosting a baby shower later in the month for expectant WIC clients at the Health Department. Expert support on pregnancy, breastfeeding, nutrition, health, and immunization was offered to all attendees.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and continue breastfeeding through at least 1 year along with complementary foods. Unfortunately, only about 58% of infants in the United States are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. Breastfeeding has its rewards and challenges, and families need a team to support them so they can achieve their goals. This breastfeeding team can include family, friends, physicians, nurses, midwives, employers, and childcare providers. Together, the team provides information to boost confidence, protects breastfeeding individuals from criticism, gives reassurance, and lends a hand to help parents succeed. Team members with special skills and knowledge about breastfeeding, such as a peer counselor, certified lactation counselor, or an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant® (IBCLC®), can be especially helpful. In addition, employers can support their employees’ breastfeeding goals in several ways, such as but not limited to providing paid maternity leave, offering private locked space in the office for pumping, and allowing flexible break times.