Maine looking to boost breastfeeding support - Feb 16, 2013

The state of Maine is looking to increase awareness and breastfeeding support especially with low income mothers.  Maine's WIC program has a vast majority of new moms who are enrolled yet they choose to formula feed their babies.  Even though breastfeeding support classes are offered and the program endorses breast milk, the state still spends over $1.4 million per year to provide the low income mothers with formula.  Although low income moms from Maine represent a high percentage of choosing formula, the state on a whole is about even with the national average.  In 2012, there were 76 percent of babies in the state who were breastfed at least once.  Maine also has several Baby-Friendly hospitals (where formula bags are banned),  they are ranked #3 for the amount of board certified lactation consultants in the nation and ranked #4 for the amount of La Leche League leaders.  Seems like mothers living in Maine should all be breastfeeding!  Unfortunately not so...the Maine WIC program provides around $118,000 of formula cans per month to moms in need.  Maine mothers (of all incomes) also receive unsolicited formula packages in the mail after they come home from the hospital.  While some mothers use formula to supplement, others may see this package as an incentive to not breastfeed...especially if that mother is having difficulties with breastfeeding.  The free package includes formula samples and coupons.  Not all mothers are swayed to switch to formula because of the package, but it sure assists those moms who may already be on the fence with nursing their baby.  A few Maine hospitals (in Augusta and Waterville) that aren't certified as Baby-Friendly have stopped accepting formula bags.  As reported on onlinesentinel.com