Caldwell County WIC works to support breastfeeding moms
In the Gamewell Park picnic shelter on Tuesday, stacks of pamphlets and plates of cupcakes and fruit shared space with dozens of babies – both rubbery-skinned dolls and the real, human thing.
A sign strung up at the entrance to the shelter proclaimed, in hot pink, the name of the gathering: “Sweets and Boobie Treats.”
In any other crowd, that name might draw some snickers. In this group of breastfeeding moms, it was par for the course. So were the “lactation cupcakes” – desserts laced with healthy ingredients such as cinnamon, yeast and dried pineapple to promote lactation.
Sweets and Boobie Treats was a first-time event, sponsored by Caldwell County WIC, the local agency administering the federal Women, Infants and Children program that provides food assistance, education and support for pregnant and nursing mothers and their children.
The staff at WIC works to offer community and support for breastfeeding mothers. That can help moms breastfeed longer, they say, which ultimately carries health benefits for their children.
“We’re trying to get it back where breastfeeding is normal, because it is the normal way of feeding a baby,” WIC breastfeeding coordinator Angela Carter said. “Bottle feeding is common.”
Studies have shown that children who are breastfed for more than six months are less likely to be overweight later in life, and they are less likely to develop some childhood cancers.
Over in a corner at Tuesday’s event, Amber Neill-Swaney held court with a stack of flyers.
A certified lactationist for Caldwell County Early Head Start, Neill-Swaney leads a twice-monthly breastfeeding support group at the Family Resource Center in Lenoir. On the first and third Tuesdays of each month, about 10 parents come together to discuss newborn- and infant-related topics in the context of breastfeeding. The last talk focused on dental health and teething.
Neill-Swaney said it’s easier for women to keep breastfeeding when there’s a low-pressure place to ask questions and share struggles.
“Research shows that breastfeeding works when there’s support, plain and simple, whether it comes from outside agencies or something as simple as your husband or significant other,” she said.
Shannon Paxton is breastfeeding her third child, three-month-old Blake, but she said she still needs community support.
“I think it can help,” she said. “It can help moms to not feel so alone in breastfeeding.”