These past two weeks I spent the majority of my time in the Monongalia and Marion County WIC offices. With this rotation I was able to learn all about what WIC has to offer! WIC represents the Women, Infants and Children Program, which is a federally funded nutrition education and supplemental food program. This is an excellent opportunity for families that qualify to receive nutrition education, breastfeeding support/education, and assistance with food and other resources. They are even working with the WIC-ICE program to offer free immunizations for children 0-5 years old!
While at WIC I realized that the number of women choosing to feed their baby using formula outnumbered the number of women breastfeeding tremendously! Out of curiosity I ended up looking up the breastfeeding rates for the states of West Virginia and Colorado as well as the national rates.
Data from CDC’s Breastfeeding Report Card, 2013
View entire report here!
Curious to know which state had the highest and lowest rates of exclusive breastfeeding at 3 and 6 months? I was! I found that the highest rate of exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months came from Idaho with 60.3% and the lowest came from Mississippi with only 17%. When looking at the those exclusively breastfeeding at 6 months, the highest came from California with 27.4% and the lowest was Tennessee with only 4.1%. As you can see there are very large discrepancies when comparing each state!
Why is it important to breastfeed vs. formula feedings?
Here are a few of the many wonderful benefits:
- Reduce the risk of diseases in the infant such as:
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Lower respiratory infections
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Protects the baby from illnesses so they get sick less often
- Provides benefits to the mother and helps the body return back to ‘normal’ by:
- Burning extra calories to promoting weight loss
- Causing the uterus to contract to prevent bleeding
- It is safe! No need to worry about:
- Mixing the formula
- Safety of the water
- Selecting the right formula
- Formula safety recalls
- The cost savings!
One interesting thing I learned at WIC was the cost of formula! Did you know that the average cost of formula for the first year was $1,500 dollars just for basic formula! This number would sky rocket if an infant required a special formula (very common since formula is harder to digest than breast milk)! This number also does not include the cost of bottle and supplies!
So, why do so many women chose not to breast feed when it is the best nutrition and supplies of a wealth of benefits for the baby and the mother that will last a lifetime – and not to mention the cost savings?