Breastfeeding Initiative Mother to Mother Program

What is the Mother-to-Mother Peer Program?

Mothers with breastfeeding experience are recruited and hired from the community by the local Extension and WIC agency to serve as peers. Peers are trained to provide WIC and SNAP/Bridge Card eligible women with breastfeeding information, encouragement, and support. They are available to see mothers in person or by telephone, in the home, the hospital, or the WIC clinic. The Breastfeeding Initiative Mother-to-Mother program goals are to:

  • Increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among low income women.
  • Provide breastfeeding encouragement and support to women throughout their infant’s first year of life.
  • Enhance state and local WIC/MSU Extension collaboration to expand service delivery and education for mothers and babies.

The Breastfeeding Initiative Program Information and Overview

Breastfeeding is not simply a lifestyle choice. Breastfeeding is universally endorsed by both the world’s health and scientific communities as the first choice in infant feeding. Exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months with continued breastfeeding in addition to age appropriate complementary foods for a minimum of one year has been shown to be the optimal in infant feeding. The evidence is clear that breastfeeding provides immediate and lifelong nutrition and health benefits for both mother and child, as well as larger economic, environmental and social benefits to families and communities. Breastfeeding must be considered the norm for infant feeding for the first year of life or longer.

Breastfeeding offers benefits not only to the mothers and babies but also to the community. It is estimated that breastfeeding has the potential to decrease health care costs, some estimating by as much as $3.6 billion annually, although some small portion of these savings would be offset by the cost of health services to support breastfeeding (i.e., lactation consultants). With the decrease in infant illness associated with breastfeeding, there could be reduced parental absenteeism from work. Breastfeeding also lowers food costs for families, since formula costs average upwards of $1,200 -$1,500 annually. Benefits of breastfeeding for the environment include reduced energy demands to manufacture, store and transport infant formula, as well as decreasing the need for disposal of formula cans and bottles.

The U.S. Food and Drug Association reports that breastfed infants have lower rates of hospital admissions, ear infections, diarrhea, rashes, allergies, and other medial problems than bottle fed babies. Human milk is designed for human babies. It’s easy to digest, and changes as the baby grows to meet the baby’s specific needs. It offers the best nutrition for every stage of growth.

Many new mothers know the value of breastfeeding, but unfortunately run into barriers during their breastfeeding experience. The BFI empowers and supports mothers to overcome these barriers. The BFI program utilizes peers to provide breastfeeding support to mothers throughout the first year of their infant’s life. The program combines the strengths of MSUE and WIC in an effort to reverse declining breastfeeding rates among low-income women. The program began in 1993 as a free program that offers breastfeeding information, encouragement and support.

What are the goals of the Breastfeeding Initiative?

  • Provide breastfeeding peer support and encouragement to women throughout the infant’s first year of life.
  • Increase breastfeeding initiation and duration rates among low income women.
  • Enhance state and local WIC/MSU Extension collaboration to expand service delivery and education for mothers and babies.

What is a BFI peer?

A breastfeeding peer is a mother with practical breastfeeding experience who serves as a support person for other mothers. She is familiar with the resources available to answer questions mothers ask, and she recognizes when to refer mothers to other providers. BFI peers wear pagers to be accessible at critical periods when mothers may experience difficulties. The overall goals of a BFI peer is to encourage women to breastfeed, empower mothers to solve breastfeeding problems, support, encourage breastfeeding women, and help women feel like great mothers to their babies. A BFI peer is a mother who has breastfed and is trained to help support women their breastfeeding experience.