PHFE WIC Centers provide breastfeeding support groups to postpartum
breastfeeding mothers, and late 3rd trimester pregnant participants are
encouraged to attend. Most Centers provide several monthly scheduling options
for these support groups and provide them in all appropriate languages.
The USDA’s goal for Breastfeeding Peer Counseling is to institutionalize peer
counseling as a core service in WIC. Combining peer counseling with the ongoing
WIC breastfeeding promotion efforts is designed to increase fully and
combination breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among WIC participants.
PHFE WIC began its Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program in 2004 with special
funding from the US Department of Agriculture. At PHFE WIC, Peer Counselors
(PCs) are paraprofessional WIC staff enthusiastic about their breastfeeding
success who want to share this enthusiasm and knowledge with women of their
culture and language. They work with WIC mothers prenatally and up to 6 months
post partum to support the mom’s plan for breastfeeding. Twenty-one WIC Centers
have a PC who receives additional training and provides case management, group
and individual education and facilitates support groups. Twelve IBCLCs provide
mentoring and support for these staff and WIC moms.
Research has shown that peer counseling is a significant factor in improving
breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among women in a variety of
settings. Peer support represents a cost-effective, individually tailored
approach and culturally competent way to promote and support breastfeeding for
women of varying socioeconomic backgrounds, especially where professional
breastfeeding support is not widely available.
The PHFE WIC Breastfeeding Helpline operates from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday
through Friday, with an answering machine for after-hour calls. The telephone
number is advertised to all participants. The Helpline is supervised by a
Lactation Consultant and staffed by several bilingual paraprofessionals who are
Certified Lactation Educators and have excellent communication skills. They are
trained to answer questions and triage breastfeeding problems. Additionally,
participants receiving Breastfeeding Peer Counseling services have access to an
“on-call” Lactation Consultant until 9:00 p.m. every night including weekends.
The Breastfeeding helpline phone number: (888)