The California Endowment has made a $500,000, three-year grant to help the City of Berkeley expand its Breastfeeding Peer Counseling Program to encourage more women to breastfeed their newborn infants.
Aimed at reaching the most vulnerable members of the community, the program is a partnership between the Berkeley Public Health Division's Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC) and the Alta Bates Medical Center. The expanded Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Program will work with new mothers and their infants at the hospital and throughout the babies' first year. The program will also work with employers to make places of work breastfeeding-friendly by helping them set up pumping rooms where women who return to work can continue to breastfeed their infants.
According to a recent report issued by the Surgeon General, breastfeeding is one of the most important contributors to infant health and not only provides the most complete form of nutrition for infants but also protects newborns from a wide array of infectious and non-infectious diseases. Due to many factors, however, including lack of information, limited maternity leave, and the absence of workplace breastfeeding support and facilities, many women do not breastfeed or discontinue breastfeeding after just eight weeks.