The New York State Department of Health - WIC Program provides grants to WIC Programs for breast-feeding initiatives. One of those initiatives is the breast-feeding peer counseling program which is aimed at increasing the rates and duration of breast-feeding as a means to reduce infant mortality rates.
The breast-feeding Peer Counseling program is a ten week training program offered to WIC participants or community health educators who have positive feelings about breast-feeding. A breast-feeding peer counselor is a mother who has breast fed one or more infants for several months, has successfully completed the peer counseling training program and is competent to provide breast-feeding guidance and information to WIC participants. A breast-feeding peer counselor can also be a father or a community advocate/educator who has positive feelings about breast-feeding and is committed to providing guidance and support to WIC participants after successfully completing the training.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center offered a Breast-feeding Peer Counselor Orientation on July 26, 2003 at the Caledonian Campus. Prior to the orientation, invitations were sent out to the WIC pregnant and breast-feeding mothers, and potential community candidates. Thirty-four candidates attended the orientation, twenty one participated in the training, and nineteen graduated.
The training was provided by Diana Vargas, MSN, IBCLC and Gessy Matthelier (Breast-feeding Coordinator). Training sessions were done in two groups, a morning class and an evening class to accommodate working parents. Sessions covered included but were not limited to: Communication skills, Breast Anatomy and Physiology, Breast-feeding Positions, Contraindications of Breast-feeding, Expression, Pumping and Storage of Breast Milk, Myths and Cultural Beliefs, Medication and Breast Milk, and Child Nutrition.
To evaluate the knowledge and skills gained, pre and post tests were given at each session. Evaluations were also distributed to all trainees. Teaching tools included slides, videos, breast-feeding equipment, brochures and breast-feeding tools. Training classes were conducted from October 1, 2002 through December 19, 2002 .
The Breast-feeding Graduation Ceremony took place on Friday, July 18, 2003 . Fourteen (14) peer counselor graduates attended the ceremony. Two New York State Department of Health - WIC officials also attended. Ms. Leticia Ajodah, the breast-feeding Coordinator for the NYSDOH - Metropolitan region spoke about the history of the breast-feeding Peer Counseling Program and Ms. Patricia Garrett "NYSDOH - breast-feeding Coordinator" from Albany gave an oversight on the role of the peer counselors.
In attendance were Samuel Lehrfeld (President and CEO of The Brooklyn Hospital Center), Richard Braun, Jr. (Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer), Anne Goonan (Senior Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services), and Robert Cooper (Director of Outreach Programs). The Brooklyn Hospital Center Angelic Choir performed and one of the peer counselors presented a poem she wrote on Breast-feeding. The breast-feeding Peer Counselor song was performed by Ms. Jeaneane Welch from the Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center - WIC Program.
Breast-feeding Peer Counselors provide guidance, encouragement and support as well as up to date information on breast-feeding and lactation to pregnant and lactating women in the WIC clinics and the communities. Peer counselors are familiar with common problems encountered by breast-feeding women and are trained to anticipate when and why these problems might occur so they can teach the mothers how to prevent their occurrence or resolve them quickly if they occur. To learn more about the Breast-feeding Peer Counseling Program, call the WIC Program at (718) 940-5244 or (718) 250-8126.
Breast-feeding Peer Counselors
* a mother who has breast fed one or more infants for several months
* can also be a father or a community advocate/educator who completed training
* has successfully completed the peer counseling training program
* are trained to anticipate when and why these problems might occur
* can teach the mothers how to prevent their occurrence or resolve them quickly if they occur.
* Provide guidance, encouragement and support as well as up to date information on breast feeding and lactation to pregnant and lactating women in the WIC clinics and the communities