School of Public Health

Idaho Bridges Gaps in Breastfeeding Promotion

June 2017

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) | Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program

Idaho’s Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program will work with the state breastfeeding coalition, local agency WIC clinics, and other breastfeeding stakeholders to strengthen connections among community, professional, and clinical breastfeeding advocates. WIC will use the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Breastfeeding Performance Bonus Award to fulfill breastfeeding “wish lists,” develop accessible training in breastfeeding support, and coordinate a statewide breastfeeding conference.

Idaho WIC Breastfeeding Rates
Initiation Duration at 6 months
81% 60%
Source: Idaho WIC data

Breastfeeding Wish Lists

The State WIC Program invited  local agency WIC breastfeeding coordinators to submit “wish lists.” Some requested special equipment like a digital baby scale to determine how much breast milk an infant ingests or a medical model of the breast to demonstrate the physiology and mechanics of breastfeeding. Others requested breastfeeding promotion items for moms such as t-shirts and buttons. But the biggest ask from breastfeeding coordinators was for continuing education and training courses for lactation counseling and breastfeeding support to be held throughout the state.

Breastfeeding Support Training

Oregon is also working to make breastfeeding support training more  accessible to state and community employees

WIC helped facilitate a partnership between the state Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program and the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition to develop additional training for employees who work with pregnant women and families. The 90-minute webinar will help home visitors – with backgrounds in nursing, social work, and early childhood education -  to more effectively assist breastfeeding mothers and engage fathers in support. It integrates WIC resources that might be helpful for MIECHV clients, such as free access to board-certified lactation consultants and increased food benefits for nursing mothers and babies. The webinar also includes tools that home visitors can use to help clients explore and express their own feelings about breastfeeding.  They will be equipped to help mothers in the workforce advocate for a pumping schedule and location. MIECHV staff will gauge the impact of the training by assessing the home visitors’ comfort level with the subject matter before and after the webinar.

Breastfeeding Summit 2017

The State WIC Program provided funding and oversight to the Idaho Breastfeeding Coalition to organize the first annual Idaho Breastfeeding Summit.   This three-day event (August 1-3, 2017) will feature experts in the medical and lactation fields and is open to lactation consultants, nurses, doctors, midwives, dietitians, WIC employees, and nursing mothers. Summit organizers hope this will help to foster communication among all types of breastfeeding advocates in Idaho and encourage sustainable breastfeeding education opportunities year after year.

For more information about these projects please contact Mimi Fetzer, Idaho WIC Breastfeeding Coordinator, at or Kristin McKie Bergeson, MIECHV Professional Development Specialist, at