"This is the first time we have received this award," said Suzanne Ball, WIC coordinator at the local health department. "Out of around 113 programs in the state, only 27 received the award."
Funding received with the award can only be used for breastfeeding education. The funding, which began on Oct. 1, must be used by Sept. 30, 2013.
"We have stepped up our classes by teaching more sessions per week," said Ball. "We are also doing more phone calls, texting and emailing to women in the program."
The health department employs three peer counselors through the program. Ball said two of the counselors are working around four times as many hours as they were before the department received the grant.
"We provide a lot of education in the first trimester," said Ball. "One of the best ways to increase breastfeeding numbers is early education. A woman doesn't decide to breastfeed when she is in the delivery room."
Peer counselors explain why breastfeeding is important and what expectant mothers should think about before they begin breastfeeding.
"We try to provide a way for them to be educated for those important decisions," said Ball. "They also do follow-up phone calls at the one- and two-week ages."
Peer counselors provide education to woman through the program until children reach 1 year of age. WIC participants can also call counselors with questions throughout the day.
WIC programs must meet the following requirements to be recognized as a Breastfeeding Friendly WIC Clinic:
* Educational and promotional materials portray breastfeeding as the preferred method of infant feeding.
* Materials must be culturally appropriate to the population in the area.
* Breastfeeding promotional materials, including posters, pictures, signs and literature, must be displayed in all rooms in which participants receive nutrition or breastfeeding education and in the WIC waiting room.
* Infant formula, formula company materials, displays and logos, coupons cannot be visible anywhere in the clinic.
* Magazines that advertise or promote formula cannot be provided to participants.
* Extra formula must be stored in a closed cabinet.
* Woman are encouraged to breastfeed in any waiting rooms in the facility and signs encouraging breastfeeding in the waiting rooms must be on display.
* A place is available for women who need to express milk or would like to nurse in private.
* Staff demonstrates positive attitudes toward breastfeeding and encourage breastfeeding as the long-term exclusive norm unless medically contraindicated.
* No monitoring findings in regards to breastfeeding counseling.
* Formula is not routinely provided to breastfeeding infants the first month.
* At least one breastfeeding expert must be on staff who is trained in advanced lactation management. This requires a minimum of 45 hours of training and an additional 75 hours of training every five years.
* All counselors must attend an in-person 18-hour course on basic lactation management and receive five hours per year in continuing education.
* A nutritionist must be available to assess and counsel all breastfeeding mothers who request formula.
* Staff must be available during WIC clinic hours to help mothers with advanced lactation issues.
* Breastfeeding peer counseling program must be established for at least one year and counselors must be a part of the clinic flow or receive referrals from other WIC agency staff.
* A referral list of breastfeeding support in the community is available.
* Agency facilitates or participates in a community or area breastfeeding task force.
* A mothers' support group is offered at least on a quarterly basis.
* Clinic loans hospital grade electric breast pumps, provides manual breast pumps and single-user electric breast pumps.
Ball said that it required the support of the entire health department staff to be recognized as a Breastfeeding Friendly WIC Clinic. Ball serves as the International Board Certified Lactation Consultant on staff. All health department nurses completed 18 hours and Ball and staff member Barbara Miller completed 48 hours of lactation training.
The Barry County Health Department has provided a breastfeeding peer counseling program for 14 years. Current peer counselors are Christian Marcum, Kim Selvey and Priscilla Cruz, who offers bilingul consultations.
For more information, call Ball at 417-847- 2114.