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Breastfeeding and health inequities

WIC Center offers services

Special from South Los Angeles Health Projects | 9/10/2020, midnight

Nearly every pregnant Black woman who comes to the Compton WIC Center says she intends to breastfeed her baby, according to Johnette Hardwick, a WIC nutrition, lactation educator and former “WIC mom.”

“Our moms know the benefits of breastfeeding,” Hardwick says. “They know that breast milk has far more nutrients than formula. That breastmilk helps make a baby’s immune system stronger, which means fewer trips to the doctor. And that babies’ brains develop better.”

August 25 to 31 was National Black Breastfeeding Week, but for Hardwick, every day is Black Breastfeeding Day. One of the greatest benefits of breastfeeding is the bonding between mother and baby.

“Being successful at breastfeeding isn’t always easy. We call it ‘10/90.’ It’s easy for 10 percent of moms and babies to breastfeed. The other 90 percent really have to work at it.”

That’s where Hardwick comes in. She helps her WIC moms anticipate those first few hours in the hospital. “Moms need to tell their nurses that during the ‘Golden Hour,’ the hour immediately after the birth, they want their naked baby placed directly on their skin. This is called ‘skin-to-skin’.  It won’t take long before the baby instinctively seeks her nipple.”

Breastfeeding is particularly beneficial for premature infants and for low-birthweight-infants. Hardwick teaches mothers special breastfeeding techniques so that the breastmilk their babies receive contains extra fat and calories.

To learn about enrolling in WIC, The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, phone (310) 661-3080 or visit www.wicforyou.org.