How WIC Supports Breastfeeding and Bottle-Feeding Moms

All women need support throughout their breastfeeding and pumping journey. And for some families, that includes financial help to better care for both mom and baby. Today, we're talking all about WIC, which stands for Women, Infants and Children. It’s a federal program that helps pregnant and their postpartum moms and children receive the nutritional care they need. Learn more about their services and how they’ve helped lower income families all over the country.

View Episode Transcript

Featured Expert

Featured Segments

  • Breastfeeding Headlines

    What are the top news headlines involving breastfeeding, pumping and parenting? We’ll comb through all the articles and discuss the main issues impacting mothers around the world.

  • Ask Breastfeeding Experts

    Our team of experts are here to help you throughout your breastfeeding journey. Send your questions through email or voicemail sent through our website, and allow our experts to ease your concerns and quench your curiosity!

Episode Transcript

The Boob Group
How WIC Supports Breastfeeding and Bottle-Feeding Moms

Please be advised, this transcription was performed from a company independent of New Mommy Media, LLC. As such, translation was required which may alter the accuracy of the transcription.

[Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: All women need support throughout their breastfeeding and pumping journey. And for some families, that includes financial help to better care for both mom and baby. Today, you’ll learn all about WIC, which stands for Women, Infants and Children. It’s a federal program that helps pregnant and postpartum moms and children receive the nutritional care that they need. Today you’ll learn more about WIC programs and how they’ve helped lower income families all over the country. We are The Boob Group.

[Intro/Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome to The Boob Group! We're here to support all moms wanting to provide breast milk to their babies. I am your host, Priya Nembhard, and I am also the founder of the “Moms Pump Here” a nursing locator app which helps moms all over the world to find great places to pump and breastfeed their babies. And speaking of apps, have you downloaded the New Mommy Media Network? This free app gives you easy access to all our episodes. You can also subscribe to our podcast through iTunes, so all our latest episodes download directly to your mobile phone. And if you are on iTunes, please leave us a review, so other moms can learn about us.
Let’s meet the mamas joining our conversations today! Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, you relation to WIC and how long you’ve been involved.

KIRAN SALUJA: Hi! Thanks so much for having me on your show! My name is Kiran Saluja and I am the executive director of the largest local agency WIC program in the Los Angelis, Orange County area. I have been involved with WIC since 1984 and really, it was breastfeeding that brought me to WIC.

I had my first child in 1982, a daughter, and I was very, very badly [inaudible] in my desire, deep desire to breastfeed her, because of certain things that happened in the hospital and so on. So, I’ve been on this quest: so, what went wrong? Because I was consumed by, you know, guilt and all kinds of things. And I found the WIC program. And through WIC I learned so much about breastfeeding.
I went then to have two more daughters after that, who are now twenty-five and thirty-one, and each of the second and the third were breastfed for over two years. And it became sort of my life ambition and really like a passion, that no mother should have to not be able to reach her goal with breastfeeding. Especially the moms we work with in the WIC program! When I came to this country, I could speak English, I was educated, I could hold my own, and I still wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do. So I realize this is a big deal. And we need to make this happen for all moms.

So, I am happy to tell you that I now am the grandmother to two little girls who are a little over a year old and they have been exclusively breastfed through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and are still being breastfed by their mother, my eldest daughter, the one who wasn’t breastfed. So, it’s just a really… I feel so proud everyday of everything that we do here, my staff does, how many moms we help! It’s a great, great passion!

DONNA BISTER: Hi! I am Donna Bister. I am the state WIC director from Vermont, and I am also the chair of the National WIC Association. I am step mom to two awesome adults and granny to five twins and teens. I grew up in a large extended family that could have used WIC when we were little. That’s what my mom always said: it’s a great program! I wish we had it when you were little! I started working for WIC as a clerk in a local agency just shortly after the program started and I’ve been with WIC all of my adult working life. So, I found that it’s an awesome place to work because it really makes a difference and I’ll stay here until I am done working.

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! And I am Sunny. I am producing today’s show. And I’ve got four kids of my own, ages six, four, and I’ve got twins that are turning three next months. I don’t have any personal experience using WIC programs, but certainly glad that their services are available to moms. And that’s one of the main reasons we wanted to do this episode today, just to make sure that everyone is aware and can participate if it’s applicable to you. So, happy to be here and to be involved in the conversation.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: And I am your host, Priya. And I also have three kids. My oldest is now fourteen, my middle child is twelve, and my middle child is eight. And I breastfed and I breast-pumped and supplemented for all three of them; Liam, my youngest, I breastfed him for three years. And I also happen to use WIC for my first child, Jayden, fourteen years ago, and it was a huge help to my family, and I am so excited to have this conversation today.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright! So before we get started with our conversation today, I did want to talk about a headline. And I realized that this is controversial. It’s so controversial in fact that we really did debate whether we should talk about it. But this is over bed-sharing. Okay, so real quick explanation. So, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but there is co-sleeping and there is bed-sharing. And I believe the official definition is: co-sleeping is if your kids are sleeping in the same room with you, but in different areas, like in their own crib in your room, something like that; and bed-sharing is when they are physically in bed with you, okay? So, two different things!

There is a study that came out from an academic journal that I am not going to even try to pronounce, it’s very Latin-y and I am going to mess it up, and the study basically found that far more mothers who share their bed at night with their baby are still breastfeeding at six months. And let’s face it, you know, as a breastfeeding mom, it really does make sense. I mean, not that I am advocating for this, but I will say that I did bed-share with two of my four kids, I chose not to do with my twins, because I really couldn’t keep track of two babies in the bed plus my husband.

But I did it for convenience purposes. I was trying to feed my babies. And you know how it is, like in the middle of the night, it is like you’re going to go up and go to a completely different room, or you’re going to roll over and try to side-nurse. And now, fortunately, side-nursing worked really well for me, and so, that’s what I did. Again, not advocating for it, but just saying that’s what I did. But it also came… For me, I have a lot of people in my family that are first responders. And it came with a lot of opposition from family saying: you are doing what? You know… How could you possibly do that? The baby could suffocate, and… or you can accidentally strangle the baby, or Sids is a big concern too.

And so I understand this back and forth with it, because if more and more moms are doing it… You know, I have friends and family that go out and see, unfortunately, babies pass, and have to, you know, deal with that situation of grieving parents, and babies passing because of an accident, you know. And so I understand where these two collide and honestly I don’t think we are going to see any relief from this any time soon, especially as we see breastfeeding rates increase. But Priya, do you have any thoughts on this?

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Yes! So, I think this is really a personal decision for the mom and the dad. From a cultural aspect, I shared my bed with my babies, all three of them when they were born. And it was convenient for me, you know. In addition to, you know, my baby not crying all through the night, because they are right next to me, it was convenient, because I was breastfeeding on the hour, you know, every hour for them when they were just born. So, it reduced my stress levels knowing that they were right there and I could just roll over and do that.

But again, there is a liability and there is the dangers of co-sleeping. And, you know, really I would recommend to any moms, listening to this, that they talk to their pediatricians, talk to their GYNs, to other moms out there, get lots of advice, make sure you educate yourself before you make the decision, and make sure that you…that you know, both your partner and you are in agreeance with it, and just take the pre-consciences that you need to, to make sure that your child is safe.

SUNNY GAULT: Absolutely! Big disclaimer: we are not advocating for it.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: We are not! It is your decision!

SUNNY GAULT: It’s you decision!

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Just make sure you are educated!


[Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Today we are learning all about WIC: Women, Infants and Children. You’ve probably heard of WIC before, but do you know exactly what they do? And how do they help breastfeeding and pumping moms all over the country? Joining us today is Donna Bister, the National WIC Association board chair and Vermont WIC director, and Kiran Saluja of the Public Health Foundation WIC in Los Angelis, which is also the largest WIC agency in the country. So, let’s give our listeners a brief history of WIC. Donna, when was it created and why?

DONNA BISTER: So, WIC was created in the early 1970s as part of a whole poverty programs, including Head Start, Action Programs and lots of other programs that were all designed to help families…lift families out of poverty. And WIC in particular started because of congressional kind of field trip to some lower income areas in the country where they found what they called unthinkable poverty, and especially infants and children close to starvation. And WIC was started with the purpose identifying that women, infants and children are at special risk for both physical and mental health if they have inadequate nutrition or health care, or both.

So, WIC was designed to support families and provide supplemental foods and nutrition education in conjunction with good healthcare during times of critical growth and development with the end goal of preventing the occurrence of health problems and improving the health status of young families. And you know, I can almost not read that statement from the authorizing legislation without crying, you know. It makes me feel like what we do is so important for families! A lot things have changed since then, but families still need that kind of support.

SUNNY GAULT: Sure! Of course!

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Today who oversees WIC? How is it structured? And how does it receive funding?

DONNA BISTER: WIC is a Federal Public Health Nutrition Program, so the money comes from the Feds to the States. There are ninety state agencies, geographic states, Indian tribal organizations, territories and the district of Columbia. And those States in turns support about nineteen hundred local agencies, and those local agencies support about a ten thousand clinics all over the country. So, wherever you are, there’s probably a WIC clinic near you.

Those clinics and local agencies may be in community health centers, or in hospitals, or community action agencies, head-start agencies, standalone non profits, there’re lots of different models out there. And the funding comes from the State to the locals, and that’s how we are able to provide services to everyone.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Who typically gets WIC? And what are the eligibility requirements? Like the categories, residential, income, nutritional risk?

DONNA BISTER: So, WIC is set up to serve pregnant women, new moms, infants and children up to their fifth birthday, and dad, grandparents, foster parents, guardians can also apply for children who are in their care. Families need to live in the area where their clinic is, so folks are served in their area of residence. There’s an income guideline, which is a 185% of the Federal Poverty Guideline, which is a little under $45,000 for family for this year.

Families that participate in the Federal SNAP, used to be Food Stamp Program or Medicate, or certain other programs, are considered to be financially eligible for WIC without any other income screening. And the last eligibility criteria is a nutritional or medical reason for needing WIC either foods or referral and education services, and that could be as simple as not meeting the Dietary Guidelines every day, or it could be complicated high risk pregnancy, or chronic health condition, or anything in between.

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so, Kiran, how would a woman apply to receive WIC services? Who does that work?

KIRAN SALUJA: So, the best, simplest way that it works, is really by word of mouth. You know, somebody getting WIC tells their friend who tell a friend. In the Los Angelis, Orange County area, California, WIC is so well known that the word of mouth is sort of our best referral. We also do a lot of outreach to doctors offices, especially, you know, the OB s in the area, and they refer moms to us. And that’s pretty much how it happens, you know. People hear about us and they walk in. Our WIC signs are in large shopping malls, there are big signs on them that say: WIC centres. And WIC is really well known in this area.

SUNNY GAULT: So can you go to any of those places that have those sign that you are talking about to be able to apply?

KIRAN SALUJA: Yes, you can, and given our wonderful age of technology a lot of our mothers go online and google WIC. They find our website, we have a beautiful website and right on there, on the left hand side there’s a big button that says: apply. And so more and more of our mothers are finding that as easy way of getting on many different WIC programs throughout the country we are doing and making it a lot easier for them to get on WIC quickly. Because optimally we want pregnant women in their first trimester, because that’s where you get the best results in terms of, you know, full term birth, a healthy baby and good pregnancy outcomes.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so they can apply online, but is there a time when they actually are going to have to be seen by someone? Or can everything be done online?

KIRAN SALUJA: I wish we could be there, and one day we’ll get there. Currently they can apply online, they can see if they are eligible and they meet, you know, all the various requirements of income, and that’s sort of the big issue that usually comes up, because WIC is a means destined program, you have to be at 185% of poverty. If you get medicate, you are eligible for WIC. If you get any kind of government assistance in term of food stamps, school meal… I am sorry, it’s called SNAP now, not food stamps… you would automatically qualify for the WIC program.

So, answering your question, once they find out they are eligible, we send them some initial paperwork so that makes the WIC visit easier. But they come in. And the reason that they come in to a WIC side, is to really have a conversation with a registered dietician, which is a wonderful unique service in the WIC program, that you have trained people who are basically the experts in nutrition, and you get a one-on-one discussion with them about weight gain, about what’s going on if you have, you know, nausea or vomiting, what is it an easy cures, if you are worried about a diabetes, you had diabetes the last time you were pregnant. That’s what the dietician does. She answers your question and she puts you on a good path for the rest of the months of your pregnancy.

SUNNY GAULT: And then how quickly would a mom know if she qualifies and is accepted into the WIC program? Is it pretty quick?

KIRAN SALUJA: It’s immediate!


KIRAN SALUJA: Yeah! Almost every single program is mandated. My…you know, the people who govern us really, US DA, to respond to a mother within 48hours. So, the woman will know where to go and what to do. And with us, we get an email right away as soon as she clicks the ‘apply’ button. She gets an email back from us immediately letting her know whether or not she qualifies, and we can walk her in the same day.

SUNNY GAULT: That’s awesome!

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Last year alone, WIC helped more than 8 million women and children here, in the United States, and that’s also includes more than half of all infants. We’ll learn more about these services they provide when we come back.

[Theme Music]

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Welcome back! Today we are talking about WIC, and in this second half, we are going to focus more on the specific services WIC offers moms and children. Donna Bister and Kiran Saluja are both with WIC, and are here to help us understand the program better. So, Donna, let’s first talk about the food benefits moms and children receive, how does that work?

DONNA BISTER: Well, right now it depends on what State you are in. In most States still families receive check or vouchers, and go to the grocery store to buy their WIC foods. And in more and more states, they use an e-WIC card, which works somewhat like a debit card, but the specific WIC foods. The WIC foods are food packages designed to meet the specific nutrition needs of young families. So, we provide kind of a wide variety of staple items. We don’t provide prepared food, but more hall-grains, dairy products, eggs, food and vegetables, you know, wide variety of that sort of products. And then families can choose from among those approved products at the grocery store. So, there’s, in addition to the categories of food within each category, there are quite a few different brands and types of foods that families can choose from.

SUNNY GAULT: How does a place qualify to be able to provide these locations or, you know, these services for WIC?

DONNA BISTER: What does it take to be a WIC store?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, there you go! What does it take to be a WIC store?

DONNA BISTER: So, to be an authorized WIC vendor, which a bureaucratic language for a WIC grocery store, a store needs to stock a minimum number of WIC products, and they need to be able to keep that stock so that families can…when families go to shop, they can buy all of their WIC items in one place. If they so choose, they don’t have to. And then we, once a store had agreed to do that, there’s a training process that they go through in order to be able to provide good customer service to WIC families. WIC shopping is a little bit more complicated that your regular grocery shopping, because only certain brands and products are allowed in WIC based on their nutrition content, so we like to work closely with our WIC grocery stores to make sure that families have a good shopping experience.

SUNNY GAULT: And I know that some stores, I know not all of them, but some of them provide like stickers on the foods too that are WIC approved, and obviously that would help parents as well, right?

DONNA BISTER: Sure! It really does. You know, when you go down the cereal aisle, just think about the cereal aisle in your local grocery store, and think of all the choices that are there. WIC has certain nutrition requirements that not every single thing in the cereal aisle meets. So, only, you know, twenty of those hundred and fifty cereals are WIC eligible. So, having the product labeled can really help families to choose. Also, many states use a WIC shopper app, so families can scan the barcode on the product and determine whether or not the state approves that for them.

SUNNY GAULT: Oh, that’s helpful!

DONNA BISTER: Yeah, it’s really helpful! And as more and more moms are shopping with a Smartphone that works in the grocery store, so that’s a really simple way for them to check before they get to the lain where they are trying to check out and the casher may or may not be really familiar with WIC.

SUNNY GAULT: And then what happens when they take something to the front, maybe that they think it’s part of it, and it’s not? They can still buy it, even if it doesn’t ring up as WIC, right? They just have to pay for that?

DONNA BISTER: Correct! And part of education of our WIC stores is that we let them know that they need to either allow someone to buy that with another form of payments, or they need to be able to remove it from their order, if they don’t, you know, want to buy it, if it’s not WIC eligible. Another thing about those shelf tags is that they mark for non WIC families some foods that are particularly healthy. So, if you shop for WIC products, you’ll be choosing healthy products too.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: When it comes to breastfeeding, WIC has also called at the gold standard when it comes to nutrition for infants. Can you explain this a little bit more, Kiran?

KIRAN SALUJA: Absolutely, mainly because we only subscribe to that. So, the gold standard! We always achieve for the very best. And every parent wants what’s the very best for their babies. And breastfeeding, especially exclusive breastfeeding, is really what anybody who knows about breastfeeding aims for. And the reason they do that is because babies that are exclusively breastfed and women who exclusively breastfeed, they only meet the gold standard in terms of the protection for the baby, in terms of all the health benefits be optimized, in terms of the baby gut being sterile so that this baby really in terms of obesity prevention, in terms of IQ, in terms of lower respiratory-tract infections, upper respiratory-tract infections, this baby has the best outcome, reduced allergies, everything. So, it is the gold standard. For the mother is the same thing. The exclusive breastfeeding is really what you want to strive for and go. And we are really wanting that language to come in for everybody to see. Everybody understands gold standard as being: I want to aim for this, this is the best reward! And we find it’s an easy way for us to explain things and for moms to get it. And I think we are there, because a lot of women express the desire to breastfeed.

Over 85% to 90% of our mothers will say: yeah, I want to breastfeed, when they first enrolled. Some will say I want to breastfeed for at least six months, some will say I want to do it for a year, but they all want to start breastfeeding. But the reality is a little far from that. And that’s the sad part of what we are trying to work with in term of really raising the [inaudible] so that all women are able to achieve what they tell us they want to do when they first come in.

SUNNY GAULT: So, what happens when moms come to WIC and they either can’t breastfeed for multiple purposes, or they just don’t want to breastfeed? Have you had that happen? Have you worked with moms that are in that position that, you know, it either just doesn’t interest them, or there’s a medical reason they can’t?

KIRAN SALUJA: Absolutely! Of course they cannot breastfeed women who are HIV positive, it is not recommended, there’re also certain medications that women might be on that it is an absolute, you know, it’s no, no. So, we respect that, we have it in their files and we will not be talking about breastfeeding to these moms, because these notes go on, we have very nice computer systems, all WIC programs do. So, that’s those who can’t breastfeed. With the ones who don’t want to breastfeed, usually there will be some inquiries that would tell me more, some probing, and all WIC programs throughout the nation do what’s called motivational interviewing or motivational counseling where it’s really led by the participants. So, we ask the mothers some questions, tell me more about this. Because sometimes they say: I don’t want to breastfeed, because I’ve heard it hurts. Well, then we kind of talk to them a little bit about that. And a lot of those moms then end up saying: oh, yeah, I do want to try it, then you’ve got all this help and support, of course.

But sometimes they’ll say: no, I don’t want to talk about it. And you know that there’s something going on that’s a little bit more and we just leave the conversation there. So, it is not that you have to force every mother. Now, I will say that the “don’t-want-to-breastfeed” is definitely one of the areas, or one of the groups of people, that we will probably work with, because in many of those cases, those mothers they really don’t understand what it’s all about and the mechanics of it. Some don’t want to put the baby to breast. And it could be because of certain histories of their life, while they would still like to give their babies breastmilk, and so, they can get a pump, and they could pump and feed their babies. So, we try to work out options with that group. It’s the “can’t-breastfeed" group that’s very sort of a sacred group that we would completely leave alone. Does that help?

SUNNY GAULT: Yeah, absolutely! And you know, one other thing. A little bit ago, we were talking about the gold standard and I see this more and more, in a different type of ways that people are marketing breastfeeding. And my concern is, because I’ve talked to a lot of women in doing The Boob Group for a long time now. And I’ve talked to a lot of women who in their own minds failed at breastfeeding, you know, it was just something that just didn’t work out and they hear things like “breastfeeding is the gold standard” and because they weren’t able to do it, they feel sad, they feel a little bit of shame, they feel guilt, which is why I brought up that question about calling it the gold standard. Part of me kind of worries when we… you know, even though we are all breastfeeding advocates here, sometimes I worry that we are alienating people, or we are putting people down, unintentionally because I know we are just trying to raise breastfeeding up, but that women may walk away feeling even more upset because of the way we are labeling breastfeeding…

KIRAN SALUJA: You know, you bring up such good points. And I can completely emphasize with that, because I am one of those moms, because I was not able to breastfeed my first child, never mind what I wanted to do, I didn’t. So, the way our staff always handles things like that is we always reassure mothers that they did the best they could with the knowledge and support they had at that time. And that’s really what a mother can do. Every mother does their best. Now, the thing that you mentioned, you know, we don’t want to make moms feel bad, I get what you are saying, but I will say to you that we have to aim for the best for our babies, for the best for our future generations. I mean, we tell people “don't smoke, it’s going to kill you!” There’re people who smoke. I am sure it makes them feel bad, but we don’t… You know what I mean, it’s a public health message. When we start framing breastfeeding as a public health message, like immunization is, like car seats-we don’t negotiate on car seats. Then it is not about a choice. And we really embrace this as one of the public health measures that is so critical for our future in terms of not just the health benefits for the mother and baby, in a pro-economical term, we could save billions as a country if we had our babies exclusively breastfed to six months. We could save over 900 lives, is our babies were exclusively breastfed to six months. So, I understand that there is some sensitivity around it for folks, but I think we have to give the people a break to say: you did the best you could with the knowledge and support you had at that time! I am here to help you and this is the gold standard!

SUNNY GAULT: Right! I am here to help you, not judge you! That’s not what we… We are not trying to judge, we are trying to help, yeah!

KIRAN SALUJA: We don’t judge, but we have to be really out there to help, because we have to battle all the forces that are against breastfeeding.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Moms who breastfeed can stay in the WIC program longer. Why is that, Donna?

DONNA BISTER: Well, there are a couple reasons for it. One is just too publicly support women who are breastfeeding, to publicly support that choice. But the other reason is that when moms are making milk, they do need a few extra nutrias and calories to keep going, so that’s one the reasons that regulation were expanded to allow moms to stay on WIC up until their baby is a year old as long as they are breastfeeding.

SUNNY GAULT: So, after a year then… because I know both Priya and I have nursed our babies up until like three year. So, there’s some sort of… not for the kids, because I know the kids are like ages five and under. But for mom, is there some sort of cut-off point even though she is like an extended breastfeeder?

DONNA BISTER: Yes! So benefits for herself would stop when the baby is a year old, the food benefits for herself. Now, breastfeeding moms can always call their WIC nutritionist and ask a question. And I think sometimes when moms are breastfeeding longer, weaning questions and those kinds of questions come up and WIC staffs are always happy to talk to moms about it, no matter how old their kids are.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Many moms, including lower-income moms, need to return to work shortly after having their children. How does WIC support pumping moms? Does WIC supply breast pumps and baby bottles?

KIRAN SALUJA: So, WIC is sort of, in my mind, is like the premier social justice program. What we do is we really try to bring everybody up in terms of the equity issue when it comes to all kinds of choices in life, including feeding. So we really have many, many years in my program and every WIC program throughout the country do this, we uphold what was in the Affordable Care Act in 2020. That amended the FSLA, the Fair Labour Standards Act, and said: every employer must provide lactation accommodation at the work side.

It is still one of the best-kept secrets in town! And what are were able to do with a WIC mother who says: I plan to go back to work, we will call the employer for her, and we work with them. In California, we passed this lactation accommodation bill ages ago, way before 2010. But not to disrupt the nation, you know, everybody can get behind it and become advocates for the mothers, because we aren’t just because giving you services when you are there. We are there to advocate for the mother, we are there to educate the employer, and then we give the mother the pump, we’ve already worked it out with the employer, already have given her some paperwork that she can take to the employer, or we send them… There’s a very nice peace called The Business Case for Breastfeeding, it’s online at the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, I can send you a link on that, and that lays out why is important for employer to help them breastfeeding, how it helps productivity, how it helps them to lessen absenteeism and you know, much greater loyalty. So, we provide the mechanics and the support for the mother, but then we do this other level of advocacy so that her work side is also a safe landing place for her when she gets back. And this is for any mothers who wants to breastfeed and pump her milk while she is at work.

SUNNY GAULT: So, the type of pumps that you are giving the moms, are they just pumps that they would kind of on loan or do they ever take home a pump to own? And is it electric versus manual?

KIRAN SALUJA: So, these things vary from state to state. In the state of California, we kind of… You know, California does really well with so many things, I have to say I am biased. But we actually give mothers medela pump, and it is an electric pump. We do not provide bottles. But we do give attachments. So, the pump and the attachments are given to the mother, and we also have in California a Bustle pump, which is again a lovely electric pump in a beautiful little case and we are able to give that to moms also.

So, all depends on how many we have of each kind, but we have plenty of Lactina®s, we have plenty of the medela pumps and as we get more of the personal pumps, often we give a personal pump to a mother one a milk supply is established. And we know that she is in it to pump for some time. Then that pump is hers to keep forever. But otherwise, most moms will get a loan pump for during the time that they are pumping.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay… You mentioned no baby bottles, is there a specific reason behind that? Because is this not a part of the pumping, I mean, it is part of the feeding process to give babies the milk afterword?

KIRAN SALUJA: It is a good point to bring up. We actually have some very specific guidelines as to what is called a breastfeeding aid. And bottles don’t fit in, so WIC funds can’t be used for certain things, and that’s one of the things we can use WIC funds for. It’s a very, very carefully legislated program, and we just have to follow protocols.

PRIYA NEMBHARD: Okay, so talking about baby bottles… So, we all know, that, you know, formula requires baby bottles. For some moms, formula is a necessity. It was recently announced that the National WIC Association is dissolving their relationship with Infant Formula Manufacturers. Can you provide us with some inside on this decision? Also how will impact moms who need WIC services and need formula?

DONNA BISTER: Yeah, so the National WIC Association is the education and advocacy professional organization for WIC staff. It’s not the same as the WIC program. So, that’s been a little bit of confusion there. So, the National WIC Association in its advocacy role has discovered that over the years our advocacy goals and the goals of Infant Formula Manufacturers have diverged significantly and we chose to dissolve our relationship with them.

What that means is that the National WIC Association will no longer allow Infant Formula Manufacturers to be members of the Association, to exhibit at our conferences, to sponsor speakers and have that kind of relationship with the Association. The WIC program still buys Infant Formula as needed, allows families to buy Infant Formula as needed. And individual WIC programs still have relationships with Infant Formula companies. But the National WIC Association will be looking to provide education for our members about Infant Formulas and formula feeding, that’s from neutral, unbiased perspective, instead of from an industry perspective.

SUNNY GAULT: Okay, so from mom's point of view, really it’s kind of business as usual if you will, right? She is still going to get the same services if, you know, is she needs formula or chooses formula from a mom standpoint and working directly with the clinics, there’s really no difference.


PRIYA NEMBHARD: Thank you so much to everyone for being part of today’s show and for sharing their experience! If you are a member of The Boob Group, then be sure to check out the bonus content for this episode where we’ll be sharing more WIC success stories.

[Theme Music]

SUNNY GAULT: Alright, so we have a comment from Tracy. And she sent us an email, she has a question for one of our experts. And Tracy says:

Dear Boob Group, first: may I start this e-mail with a "thank you"", a huge "thank you” for being my advice, encouragement, sanity and joy through the first six months of my daughter breastfed life! I have loved almost every moment of it and my daughter Olivia is a chubby, happy and healthy baby.

Olivia turned six months yesterday and I am wondering if I should continue to breastfeed her alongside introducing foods? My initial intention was to feed her for twelve months, but the journey till today has not been easy. Throughout the six months, I have had sorrow nipples plus one bout of thrush for 70% of the time, still [inaudible] in each feet. I am working twelve hour days and pump three to four times a day, and where I used to pump six to eight ounces per session, I am now struggling to get even five ounces. I am always tired and I can’t work out, because my nipples are so sensitive.

But I love the intimacy I get with her and I want to continue. Is there any encouragement out there for this case? I love my baby more than life itself and holding her at 1am at my breast brings me more joy than payday! However, since her birth my husband has been sleeping in the spare room, because he is such a light sleeper and can't function at work if he sleeps in the same room. Our marriage is wonderful, but I don’t want to get complaisant! For the relationship non-sore nipples-working out again, can you offer any advice?
Eternally grateful for you wise words,

HELEN ANDERSON: Hi, Tracy! My name is Helen Anderson and I am a registered nurse and a lactation educator, and I am one of the experts here, at New Mommy Media. It sounds like you are a really great mom and you’ve had some challenges breastfeeding Olivia, but you’ve been persistent and kept after it, so nice work! Let’s jump right into your questions. First let’s start with the yeast problem you’ve been having. Yeast infections are the number one cause of persistent nipple pain.

Sometimes they go away on their own, but if you have a persistent strain, you should really talk to your doctor about getting a prescription strain ointment. That is going to get rid of your yeasts once and for all. We know that persistent pain can increase your stress hormones and really have a negative effect on breastfeeding, so, if you can resolve that issue, definitely do. Your husband sounds like a great guy that he is willing to sleep in another room, because breastfeeding is important to both of you. Remember, breastfeeding doesn’t last forever, maybe another six months.

So, while you are still breastfeeding Olivia, until you wean, find other ways to connect with your husband. You might make meals together, you might take a walk together, all these things always connect and maintain intimacy without having to sleep in the same bed together. And I know that is important to a lot of us marries couples, but remember-there’s other ways to maintain intimacy when sleeping in the same bed isn’t an option.

Another thing is your persistence in your nipples, sounds like they’re causing you to reduce your activity level. There’s things you can put into your bra that can reduce the friction of your nipples on your bra: so hydrogel pads, sew dies, these are both really great products that just put a barrier between your nipples and your bra with the pads that you are wearing. So give those a shot and see if you can start working out again if you are using and inserting something between your nipple and your bra or your pads. Stay away from disposable pads!

Use cotton or organic, clean: if they start to get wet, change them out, because we know that a warm, moister environment is good to grow yeast and that’s not what we want to do. So, your reduction in the amount of milk that you get when you are pumping, that’s pretty normal. There’s some great videos out there that teach you about hands-on pumping, which is a great way to increase milk supply. You basically use your hands to place pressure on your breast and get more milk out during the pumping session. So, Google hands-on pumping. There’s a great video out there from Stanford University that has just wonderful how to there. So, that’s it! Please, keep up the good work and thanks for calling!

PRIYA NEMBHARD: That wraps up our show for today. Thanks for listening to The Boob Group!
Don’t forget to check out our sister show:
• Preggie Pals for expecting parents
• Newbies for newly postpartum moms
• Parent Savers for moms and dads with toddlers and
• Twin Talks for parents with multiples.

This is The Boob Group where moms know breast!

This has been a New Mommy Media production. The information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Statements and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of New Mommy Media and should not be considered facts. While such information and materials are believed to be accurate, it is not intended to replace or substitute for professional, medical advice or care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating health care problem or disease or prescribing any medications. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

SUNNY GAULT: How would you like to have your own show on the New Mommy Media network? We are expanding our line-up and looking for great content. If you are a business or organization interested in learning more about our co-branded podcasts, visit our website at

[End of Audio]

Love our shows? Join our community and continue the conversation! Mighty Moms is our online support group, with parenting resources and helpful new mom stories you won’t find anywhere else! You’ll also have a chance to be featured on our shows.

Become a Mighty Mom!