SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) – Unlimited, 24/7 access to infant feeding support is now available to the 50,000 women and infants served by Louisiana WIC, through a partnership with Pacify Health. This expands Louisiana’s ongoing work to improve participants’ breastfeeding duration rates.
The partnership with Pacify supports the Louisiana WIC program’s mission to improve health equity by improving access to breastfeeding support services for people in rural areas and for non-English speaking participants. Pacify’s network of over 100 providers includes certified lactation consultants who offer telelactation care in English and Spanish, without an appointment.
Attendees who speak other languages can access a translation line through the Pacify app. Through Pacify, Louisiana WIC will offer attendees instant video access to a nationwide network of lactation consultants, as well as direct access to its local WIC clinics across the state, all through one streamlined app. Providing this kind of support has been proven to help more parents start and stay breastfeeding for longer, which is known to improve the health of mothers and babies. Access to this care is crucial in a state that has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the country.
Tara Landry, WIC Breastfeeding Program Manager for Louisiana, is an International Board Certified Dietitian and Lactation Consultant. She says breastfeeding is something she has always been passionate about.
“I breastfed my two children and it was a wonderful experience,” Landry said. “I know how important it is for moms, so it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I’ve worked with WIC for 17 years. I love the program and I’m very passionate about public health I’m so excited to be in this role where we’re just trying to improve the health outcomes of our WIC participants and one of those ways is breastfeeding.My main job is to make sure that all of our participants WIC have the resources to be successful in their breastfeeding journey.
Jenica Walker is a peer counselor in LDH Region 3 and a WIC participant herself. She has five children, all of whom she breastfed to varying degrees. Landry was her dietician when she started as a WIC participant; she says she knows Landry’s passion for women’s and children’s health in Louisiana. She says her favorite part of the job is reaching out to other mums and giving them the support they need.
“As a peer counselor, we have this one-on-one contact with mothers who are prenatal or breastfeeding,” Walker said. “We check on them every month initially, just making sure they’re educated on the benefits of breastfeeding not just for their baby, but for themselves. As we get closer to giving birth, we call them every week and talk to them about anything and everything about giving birth or breastfeeding. Many of them are first-time mothers and have never breastfed before. Many also don’t have someone in their family or friends who has breastfed, so they don’t know what it entails. We are here to answer any questions they may have and to reassure them that any questions or concerns they face are questions that all mums ask, wonder and worry about. Sometimes all a mom needs is someone to tell her she’s doing a great job and that’s what I do every day.
Landry says Louisiana doesn’t have the best breastfeeding rates, so access to that kind of care is crucial.
“We know that when a baby receives breast milk, the reduced risk of diseases, ailments, overall well-being, infant death rates, all of these things are greatly reduced when a baby receives breast milk” , Landry said. “Our WIC participants themselves, we have about 14% who will be breastfeeding and we would like to see that number increase. Our biggest concern is that when a mother has a baby, she receives the lactation support in the hospital, but then she is discharged and does not get her first WIC appointment until a week or several weeks later. That window of opportunity to help that mother when she’s going through the most vulnerable time, when problems arise and she doesn’t have that support, that’s where we lose our mothers. Pacify, this application, is going to help us bridge this gap because there is a huge gap.
Landry says that through the partnership with Pacify, moms will be able to use the app anytime they need help or have questions at the push of a button, including video chats with lactation consultants.
“It’s just phenomenal for me,” Landry said. “I know if I had that resource when I had my babies 20 years ago it would have been great. Especially when it’s your first child and you think you’re not doing something right. Just having this support for our moms is phenomenal and Pacify fills that gap for us.
Louisiana WIC participants who would like to access virtual infant feeding support through Pacify can contact their local WIC clinic or call 1-800-251-2229. All WIC participants are eligible.
Along with other public health partners, Pacify has helped improve overall breastfeeding rates by up to 23%. In a study conducted by the RAND Corporation, Pacify demonstrated that virtual breastfeeding services improve breastfeeding rates and patient experience among rural women. This project recently received additional funding from the National Institutes of Health.
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