Women, Infants and Children, more commonly known as WIC, a government-funded program aimed at helping mothers and their children live healthy lives, offers free classes on breastfeeding to women in Utah County.
Austin Hollenbaugh, a BYU graduate and lactation specialist for WIC, is one of the teachers for the class.
“There are tons of rumors about breastfeeding that get sent down through family or friends that aren’t true,” Hollenbaugh said. “I love being able to share basic information with people and dispel common myths.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby be breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. After that, mothers are encouraged to introduce basic foods and continue to breastfeed for at least six more months.
Hollenbaugh said she is constantly amazed with the benefits of breastfeeding and loves to share the facts with others.
“A lot of people don’t realize the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula and the harmful affects that formula can have on their babies,” Hollenbaugh said. “I read about a recent study that said children who are breast fed tend to be more socially adept. The benefits just go on and on.”
A woman does not have to be qualified for WIC to participate. The classes are open to the public and anyone who wants to learn more is encouraged to attend, even if they aren’t pregnant or have children. Most women come in their third trimester of pregnancy, Hollenbaugh said.
“We also really encourage people to bring in their support people, such as their husband or parents, so they can hear the benefits as well,” Hollenbaugh said. “It’s important for them to have this information so they can give the mother support if problems do arise. Moms that don’t have a lot of support aren’t likely to breastfeed for as long.”
According to utahcountywic.org, the mission of WIC is “to safeguard the health of low-income women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutrition risk by providing nutritious foods to supplement diets, information on healthy eating, and referrals to health care.”
WIC wants to provide mothers with information, before and after pregnancy, on how to stay healthy and do the right things that will allow them to breastfeed their child, Hollenbaugh said.
“The number one reason people stop breastfeeding is because they don’t think they have enough milk,” Hollenbaugh said. “Most women can have enough milk if they do the right things from the beginning. It just takes a little bit of work.”
The class is only an hour long and is held at two of the four WIC clinics in Utah County every Friday at 1 and 3 p.m., and at the Provo location every Wednesday at 6 p.m. The class in Provo is held on alternating Fridays at 151 S. University Ave. in suite 2100 and Spanish classes are also available. Hollenbaugh said the Provo classes are the most popular ones but they would love to see more people attend .
“It’s often hard for mothers to know what resources are available to them,” Hollenbaugh said. “We are happy to be able to offer all that we do and would love to see more people at the classes.”
Besides the breastfeeding clinics, WIC offers infant massage classes which helps soothe babies who have colic as well as nutrition and organizational classes. More information about classes can be found online at utahcountwic.org or by calling 801-851-7312.