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P002: Public Health Division (FY17-FY19 Strategic Plan)

P002: Percent of WIC recipients that initiate breastfeeding

Current Value


FY 2017


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Story Behind the Curve

  • The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) population is at particular risk to not breastfeed due to increased barriers that low- and moderate-income women face.
  • WIC is 100% federally funded, providing all pregnant and breastfeeding participants with breastfeeding support through education sessions, individual counseling, referrals, breast pumps, and other resources as needed. WIC receives Breastfeeding Peer Counselor grant federal funding, which provides individualized peer support to WIC mothers via phone calls, home, community support groups, and hospital visits.
  • WIC breastfeeding initiation rates continued to increase in FY17. All WIC staff received required training in lactation education. WIC peer counselor services were expanded in hospitals and support groups. WIC conducted a media campaign. In addition, breastfeeding legislation was passed to help low-income women better access lactation services.
  • Challenges faced included a 12% staff vacancy rate, delay on new hires, and increased staff time needed to develop and test a new management information system (MIS).
  • The WIC Program will continue providing on-going training to staff and peer counselors; rolling out the new MIS system; and providing support to clients through classes, counseling, peer counseling and breast pumps. WIC and the NM Breastfeeding Task Force (NMBTF) will continue collaboration on media, worksite, hospital, childcare, and legislative initiatives.


  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • Public Health Clinics
  • NM Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System
  • Association of State and Territorial Health Officials
  • United States Breastfeeding Committee
  • U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Mothers and caregivers of infants

What Works

  • Peer counselor support: effective in improving breastfeeding initiation and duration rates in low-income women in WIC and in women overall.
  • Implementation of maternity care practices (e.g., Baby-Friendly USA Hospital Initiative) that support breastfeeding at hospitals, birthing centers, and other health care providers.
  • Longer maternity leave, part-time work options, and breastfeeding support programs in the workplace.
  • Access to breastfeeding education and information for new mothers in the prenatal and intrapartum periods.
  • Social marketing: promotes breastfeeding practices in community, hospital, and workplace settings; educates policy makers about issues related to breastfeeding; and educates the public about healthy infant nutrition practices.


  • Provide breastfeeding education, support and peer counseling services for WIC mothers.
  • Provide education/training for WIC staff, community health care professionals, and breastfeeding advocates.
  • Collaborate with the NM Breastfeeding Task Force to support for breastfeeding in hospitals, workplaces, schools, and childcare facilities, and to support breastfeeding advocacy and policy issues.
  • Conduct breastfeeding awareness campaigns.

Action Plan


  • Provide beginner and advanced breastfeeding trainings for WIC staff: Met.
  • Decrease vacancy rate to 5%: Not met.
  • Work with NM hospitals to accept WIC Peer Counseling support: Met.

FY17 Annual Progress Summary

  • WIC trained approximately 80 new staff through four required USDA breastfeeding workshops; trained 32 new peer counselors through required USDA breastfeeding workshops; trained 26 nutritionists and 15 peer counselors through two advanced breastfeeding workshops; and trained 89 nutritionists and 45 peer counselors through the NM National Breastfeeding Conference.
  • In NM, a total of eight hospitals achieved Baby-Friendly USA designation, while 14 others are working on the certification pathway, and 19 have banned formula discharge bags to mothers, an important step to this process.
  • WIC Peer Counselor services expanded into two more hospitals during FY17, now totaling nine statewide, and breastfeeding support groups expanded into five more locations, now totaling 15 groups statewide. 
  • WIC collaborated with the NMBTF on a media campaign to support breast pump use in the workplace law. WIC aired three TV commercials, while the NMBTF’s four statewide Breastfeeding Worksite liaisons and the New Mexico Department of Health Worksite Initiative continued to provide education and technical assistance to employers and working mothers about incorporating flexible breaks and a place to use a breast pump in the worksite. 
  • A bill passed in the 2017 Legislative Session that creates a process for lactation consultants to become licensed through the NM Nursing Board, helping reduce health care costs for women to receive lactation services.

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