Mt. Vernon Register-News

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August 1, 2013

Health Department highlights peer counselors

MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Health Department is highlighting is Breastfeeding Peer Counseling in conjunction with World Breastfeeding Week.

According to information from the department, Since 2010, the Jefferson County Health Department has had breastfeeding peer counselors that work part-time to support and encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies.

Through the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program, the counselors are available to mothers 24-hours a day, seven days a week by phone or text and can make home visits and hospital visits as requested.

Even when mothers are able to get off to a good start, all too often in the weeks or months after delivery, there is a sharp decline in breastfeeding rates. The peer counseling program is a cost-effective and highly productive way to reach a large number of mothers more frequently, according to information from the department. Peer counselors receive training to support mothers and become the lifeline for mothers with breastfeeding questions and issues.

In 2010, the health department hired and trained four peer counselors for the WIC program. Since then, two of the peer counselors continue to work at the Jefferson County Health Department.

Lindsay is a mother of a beautiful 5-year-old daughter. She is going to college at SIU and plans to stay with the health department until she graduates with her degree in social work. She is a certified lactation counselor and conducts the Jefferson County Health Department prenatal breastfeeding classes.

Jamie is the newest mother working as a peer counselor at the Jefferson County Health Department. She has five children with her youngest just turning one-year-old and she is still breastfeeding. She is also a certified lactation counselor. Jamie shares her story about how breastfeeding fits into her life and is the star of the department’s latest breastfeeding video.

The objectives of World Breastfeeding Week 2013 are to draw attention to the importance of peer support in helping mothers to establish and sustain breastfeeding; to inform people of the highly effective benefits of peer counseling and unite efforts to expand peer counseling programs.

The Jefferson County Health Department is having World Breastfeeding Week Celebration on Friday for all its breastfeeding mothers and babies.

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