Breastfeeding Military Families and WIC: An Invisible Underserved Population

Time-frame: 45-60
CERP: no

Co-authored with Felisha Brooks-Floyd

WIC is a vital benefit for many military families, but it is often underutilized.  This presentation explores barriers to access to WIC and the particular challenges facing breastfeeding military families, and examines potential channels for connecting with this underserved population.  Many military families do not know about WIC, or that they are eligible.  Frequent moves to different locations often mean that families may qualify for WIC in one state, but not in another.  WIC-Overseas is a separate agency run by the Department of Defense that also has its own qualifications. For families that do qualify, Peer Counselors may be available to offer lactation support, but may not have access to military installations, where many families live.  For single-car families, traveling to a WIC office in a distant location may be impossible. Birthing locations and pediatric/family care facilities, especially those located within Military Treatment Facilities (MTFs) may not share information about WIC with their patients.  WIC agencies do not track military family demographics in the populations they serve, so there is a lack of data to calculate what percentage of military families are eligible, and what percentage of those eligible are receiving benefits.

Mom2Mom Global is a military-specific peer support and advocacy organization that offers a template for reaching breastfeeding military families.  Our model combines peer mentoring, online and social media presence, and forging partnerships with the medical facilities, lactation professionals, and other community resource organizations in military communities, including WIC, to create a seamless network of support, based on the specific needs and culture of breastfeeding military families.



Amy Barron Smolinski

Amy Barron Smolinski, MA, ALC, CLC


Country: USA/Germany
Phone number: US: 402-557-0532 DE: +49.152.07430986
Email: amy.smolinski@mom2momglobal.org
Site: http://mom2momglobal.org http://amybarronsmolinski.com
Download CV
socialsocialsocial

Publications

#MilitaryMonday: The New Military Parental Leave–What does it really mean?

Paid Family Leave for military families has rapidly changed in the past two years, and the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act brings even more changes.  While some of these changes appear to be improvements for military parental leave, several points of the new law have left us with some serious concerns.

Regular Contributor to MomsRising.org #MilitaryMonday

Established in 2006, MomsRising and its members are organizing and speaking out to improve public policy and to change the national dialogue on issues that are critically important to America’s women and families. In addition to being a grassroots force, MomsRising also has a strong readership reach: With over 1,000 blogger, in 2013, Forbes.comnamed MomsRising‘s web site as one of the Top 100 Websites For Women for the fourth year in a row and Working Mother magazine included MomsRising on its “Best of the Net” list.

Regular Contributor to Mom2Mom Global Blog

Regular contributor to the Mom2Mom Global blog, with particular focus on national policies and events that impact military families and equity gaps in breastfeeding rates within military culture.

Why is it so important to give all military servicemembers paid family leave?

Guest blog post for the United States Breastfeeding Committee in support of the Military Parental Leave Modernization Act, proposed by Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to give all active duty servicemembers 12 weeks of paid parental leave when a new child enters the family by birth, adoption, or foster care placement.

Taking the Village Online: Mothers, Motherhood, and Social Media (Chapter 4)

From Demeter Press: The rise of social media has changed how we understand and enact relationships across our lives, including motherhood. The meanings and practices of mothering have been significantly impacted by the availability of [online] communities…  The village that now contributes to the mothering experience has grown exponentially, granting mothers access to interactional partners and knowledge never before available. This volume of works explores the impact of social media forms on our cultural understandings of motherhood and the ways that we communicate about the experience and practice of mothering.

Chapter 4, authored by Amy Barron Smolinski, specifically explores the intersectionality of breastfeeding, military families, and social media.