I went to a Daddy & Baby pizza party at Cape Cod Hospital last night. It’s the same one I’ve been going to since Will was born. I like it because I get to hang out with other dads, listen to speakers with helpful information and there’s free pizza and soda.
Last night, some very nice people from WIC were there to speak with us about nutrition for babies. They were extremely nice, very informative people who gave us a lot of good information. They also told us how the guidelines and food packages for eligible people are changing this year, with nutritionally enhanced food packages becoming available. I think this is a great program, except for one thing.
Breastfeeding moms are given preferential treatment over those moms who choose to formula feed.
I get their rationale. Breastfeeding is undoubtedly the best food for a baby. That’s not even up for debate. And part of their mission is to encourage as many mothers as possible to breastfeed, therefore WIC offers incentives to breastfeeding moms. First of all, moms who breastfeed are eligible for food packages for 12 months after the baby is born, while formula feeding moms only get six months. Furthermore, breastfeeding moms get more food than non-breastfeeding mothers. The nutritionist last night said moms will start to receive jarred baby food with the changes going into effect this year, and breastfeeding moms will receive three times as much jarred food as those who formula feed.
Quite honestly, I think that sucks and I think it’s completely unfair.
I asked the WIC representatives last night what would happen if a mother desperately wanted to breastfeed but couldn’t. I asked what happens if she goes to a lactation consultant, toughs it out, does everything possible to get the baby to breastfeed but just can’t make it happen. I figured a woman who showed proof that she tried that hard, or that her supply just failed, would be given the same benefits as a mom who was actively breastfeeding. But she told me that wasn’t the case. The mother in my hypothetical situation would not be eligible for any any added benefits.
Like I said, I understand and appreciate what WIC is trying to do. But in a case like the one I mentioned all that’s doing is unfairly punishing a mother who tried to breastfeed but couldn’t. And quite honestly, I think it’s unfair to mothers who simply choose to formula feed. Namely because formula is expensive and the people getting assistance from WIC have low incomes. So WIC is giving more help to low income moms who are breastfeeding for free, while those who have to spend more money on formula get less food? That doesn’t make sense to me at all.
WIC is a wonderful organization and they do some great things. In this economy it’s probably more important than ever. But their policy toward non-breastfeeding moms is unfair and I hope they consider changing it in the future.