NURTURING: Broward County Offers Free Help to Nursing Mothers, Infants

Author  Edited from article submitted by Florida De-partment of Health in Broward County.

So, you just found out you’re pregnant and you’re wondering if you need to change your diet.

breastfeedingYou’d also like information on breastfeeding and you’re worried about the additional costs associated with newborns.

The Women Infants & Children program (WIC) may not completely eliminate the stress and uncertainty associated with having a baby, but it offers nutritional guidance from dietitians, breastfeeding support from lactation consultants, referrals to other programs and an electronic benefits card to buy food and artificial baby milk, if necessary.

There’s no waiting for a pregnancy confirmation or waiting for the birth of the baby.

“Once you find out you’re pregnant, you can apply,” said Reginald Shagoury, public health nutrition program director.

“We help families ensure a healthy beginning for their baby from pregnancy until the child is five years old. We want families to receive the benefits and services WIC provides.”

FREE

WIC is free.

“WIC helps mothers, babies and young children stay healthier,” said Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of the Florida Department of Health in Broward County, which operates WIC locally.

“Families may be missing out on valuable nutrition benefits because they delay signing up.

In Broward County, 59,221 residents are estimated to be eligible for the program but only 73 percent of those deemed eligible actually apply, Reginald noted.

“It’s a missed opportunity,” he said.

WIC serves pregnant women, mothers for six months after delivery, breastfeeding women and children under age five.

“Some women do not enroll early,” Dr. Thaqi said. “We want women to sign up when they learn they are pregnant so they can receive WIC benefits right away.”

Families are eligible if household income is below 185 percent of the federal poverty level. That means monthly income under $1,926 for one person, $2,607 for two, $3,289 for a family of four, etc. Florida Medicaid recipients qualify automatically.

Foods covered include cereal, whole grains (bread, rice, tortillas, pasta), canned tuna and salmon, fruits and vegetables, baby foods, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, beans and fruit juice.

In addition to nutrition services, DOH-Broward offers free dental fluoride varnish to children up to age 20 in WIC-eligible families. The treatment prevents cavities.

WIC services are available at the seven Broward County offices in the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Sunrise,Pompano Beach, Coral Springs, Pembroke Pines and Lauderdale Lakes.

For more information, call 954-767-5111 or visit http://broward.floridahealth.gov. Appointments are available.

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