Did You Know?Research has shown a significant increase in the initiation and duration of breastfeeding with peer counselor intervention.
Need a WIC peer counselor?To find your local WIC program call 1-866-942-9675
Mother-to-mother support has proven to be one of the most successful approaches to encourage moms to breastfeed their babies.
The idea behind the program is that mothers, as peers, can help and influence other mothers in ways that health professionals cannot. Peer counselors go through special training that helps them go beyond their own experiences and give other mothers help and advice based on current research and knowledge from experts. And it works—studies have shown that mothers who talk to a peer counselor during pregnancy are more likely to breastfeed.
What Do WIC Peer Counselors Do?
They serve as role models.
In areas where breastfeeding rates are low, some women have never seen a baby being breastfed. Many moms have never talked with a mother who has breastfed her baby. Breastfeeding peer counselors are role models, breastfeeding their infants and telling about their experiences in WIC classes and waiting rooms.
They teach classes and provide counseling.
Breastfeeding education, information and management are labor-intensive and time consuming. Though some WIC staff time is spent on breastfeeding, the ratio of caseloads limits the time staff can spend providing breastfeeding support. Breastfeeding peer counselors teach or assist with group classes, provide one-to-one counseling, telephone counseling, home visits (at some sites), and provide support above and beyond the support available from WIC staff.
They provide hospital counseling where available.
Peer counselors help new moms in their first days of breastfeeding. They provide information about what moms can expect during the first days and weeks of baby’s life. They also provide follow-up counseling on the phone or in the clinic.
They provide referrals.
Peer counselors are trained to help moms with normal breastfeeding. If a mom needs special help, they may refer her to their site supervisor, breastfeeding coordinator, nurse, nutritionist, lactation consultant or the mother’s physician or designated health professional.
They receive training.
Peer counselors receive a 20-hour training course that includes breastfeeding basics, counseling skills, and emphasis on the role of peer counselors in making referrals for circumstances outside the realm of normal breastfeeding.