HONOLULU – During National Breastfeeding Month in August, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) reminds everyone to support nursing mothers and encourages new mothers to take advantage of recent changes in health insurance coverage that now offer more support for breastfeeding moms.
Health care insurance providers in Hawaii, such as AlohaCare, Hawaii Medical Service Association (HMSA), Kaiser Permanente, Ohana Health Plan, TRICARE, United HealthCare Services, and University Health Alliance (UHA) provide breast pumps, breast pump supplies and breastfeeding counseling at no cost for new mothers, including mothers who adopt an infant and plan to breastfeed. This is a significant benefit change in providing additional support for breastfeeding and makes breast pumps more accessible and affordable.
Breastfeeding is one of the most effective ways to ensure infant health. The composition of breastmilk changes to adapt to the specific nutritional needs of a growing child. As recognized by experts, breastfeeding provides many benefits not only to children but to mothers, families, and society as well.
All nursing mothers deserve the services and support they need to nurse. WIC is committed to providing these services to low-income women and children. Thanks to WIC and other breastfeeding advocacy groups, Hawaii breastfeeding duration rates have improved. Hawaii’s 2014 Breastfeeding Report Card shows an increase from 20.7 percent in 2000 to 36.5 percent of infants who were breastfed at 12 months. With the latest advancements in health insurance coverage, breastfeeding women are significantly more likely to achieve and maintain optimal breastfeeding practices. For more information on WIC programs and benefits for breastfeeding moms, contact: Rhoda Castillo at (808) 586-8368 or go to http://health.hawaii.gov/wic/.
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Linda Chock, MPH, RD
WIC Services Branch Chief
Phone: (808) 586-8191