Yesterday, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin released the National Prevention Council Action Plan, which “outlines the federal commitment to implementing…the nation’s first ever National Prevention Strategy.” Recommendation #5 under the Strategy’s Healthy Eating section specifically calls to: “Support policies and programs that promote breastfeeding,” and the Action Plan describes planned federal actions. Another recent highlight for breastfeeding was last month’s release of the Institute of Medicine report, Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention, which calls in Strategy 4-4 to “promote breastfeeding-friendly environments.”< /p>
Our Nation’s public health leaders are coming together to call for real changes in the policies, systems, and environments that impact breastfeeding families. But despite the fact that these two new documents, as well as The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support Breastfeeding, and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report, call for the expansion of breastfeeding peer support programs, we’ve just learned that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies has passed a Fiscal Year 2013 bill which would cut all funding for WIC breastfeeding peer counselors.
The National WIC Association has sounded the alarm, saying: “The failure to fund breastfeeding peer counselors would mean an immediate loss of jobs and a reduction in breastfeeding rates.” WIC estimates that women who attend its breastfeeding support groups are twice as likely to plan to breastfeed as those who do not. We know the difference peer counselors make for breastfeeding mothers: just read the stories we’ve collected from real moms (or share your own)!
One Missouri mom shared a story of peer counselor support during her breastfeeding journey with her second child:
“I had been visiting with a breastfeeding ‘cheerleader’ from my local WIC office and since I knew that I was going to breastfeed we spent most of our time talking about how to do it longer, how to make sure the older child understood and generally about being able to nurse in public which I had never felt comfortable doing before. This woman and the others from the support team have been awesome! I ran into some differences the second time around and had felt a little shocked that it wasn’t exactly the same. But with the information that they were able to give me my child and I got right back on track in no time…I wish more women had the support system that I have! In fact, I wish I would have know these women the first time around.”
Take action today to help preserve this critical program that helps thousands of moms overcome the barriers to breastfeeding each year.
Your support makes a real difference for our Nation’s moms and babies. Thank you!