What Does WIC Provide? 10 Questions and Answers for New Mothers

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Are you pregnant or do you have children under the age of 5? Do you have trouble getting enough food for you and your children? You are not alone.

About 6,870,000 Americans participated in WIC programs in 2018. This program focuses on women and children. Their goal is health and wellness for pregnant women and their young children.

You may wonder, “what does WIC provide?” Keep reading to learn how WIC can help you and your family.

What Is WIC?

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children is the program known as WIC. Their mission is to protect the health of low-income women, infants, and children until the age of 5.

They provide nutritions services as well as a variety of other programs.

  1. What Kind of Food Does WIC Provide?

The program focuses on nutritional support and supplemental diets. Many states provide checks, vouchers, or electronic cards each month. These vouchers specify what foods you can buy with this money.

Examples of WIC foods include infant cereal, iron-fortified adult cereal, fruit or vegetable juice, eggs, milk, cheese, and beans. You may buy soy products such as soy beverages, tofu, and baby foods. Fruits, vegetables, whole wheat bread, and other grains are also part of the program.

The WIC Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program started in 1992. You get coupons to buy fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmer’s markets. You will need to check with WIC in your area to see if you have this option.

  1. Are You Eligible for WIC?

WIC provides help for women during and after pregnancy. They also help young children. The program specifies the following criteria:

  • Pregnant women during their pregnancy
  • Postpartum women up to 6 weeks after giving birth or the pregnancy has ended
  • Infants until their first birthday
  • Children until their fifth birthday

WIC participants must show proof of residency in the state. Second, you must be at “nutritional risk.” WIC provides a free health assessment to see if you meet the nutritional risk criteria.

  1. What Are the Income Requirements?

WIC eligibility is also based on income. Your income before taxes must be at or below 185% of the U.S. poverty income guidelines. The WIC staff can help you determine if you meet this requirement.

If you are not sure about your eligibility for WIC services, contact WIC. They will talk with you about your situation and determine if you qualify for services. Go to this website to find the WIC office in your area.

  1. What Does WIC Provide?

WIC focuses on providing nutritious food and supplemental nutrition.

Homes with children have a 20% higher risk of not having enough food. Thus, WIC’s goal is to protect the health of this at-risk population.

These nutrition programs help decrease illnesses related to poor nutrition. WIC empowers moms to learn and then teach their children about healthy nutrition and lifestyles. This leads to healthier moms and children.

  1. Can WIC Help You With Referrals?

Yes. WIC helps with referrals to health and social services. Staff members can assist women access healthcare for themselves and their children.

Social service referrals can help you with other needs in your life. They may help with housing concerns or paying bills. Job coach services help you learn more about applying and achieving employment.

  1. Why Is Prenatal Care Important?

During pregnancy, WIC works to make sure women receive proper prenatal care. This impacts the mother’s and baby’s health and future wellness.

Women who receive regular prenatal care and follow healthy living styles have better outcomes. There are lower incidences of low birth weight babies and early deliveries.

The healthcare provider may find problems that can affect you and/or your baby. By identifying problems early, you can often take action to correct the problem.

Infants gain much of their weight during the last part of the pregnancy. If the mother has unhealthy nutrition habits or lifestyles, the baby may not gain a healthy weight at this stage.

  1. What Puts You Baby at Risk for Low Birthweight?

A number one risk of low birth weight involves delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This early, or premature birth, decreases the time for the baby to gain weight at the end of the pregnancy.

Increased risk factors for low birth weight include:

Race. African-American babies have twice the risk of low birth weight compared to white babies.

Mother’s age. Babies of teen mothers, especially those under the age of 15, have increased risk.

Multiple births. More than half of twins or other multiples have increased risk because they are often born early.

Mother’s lifestyle. Babies are at risk when mothers use illicit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes.

Mother’s socioeconomic status. Low-income pregnant women often have poor nutrition, inadequate prenatal care, and complications.

  1. Why Does WIC Focus on Preventing Low Birth Weight?

Why is a baby’s birth weight a concern? Babies with low birth weight are often at higher risk for complications. Low birth weight babies often experience:

  • Trouble eating
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Problems staying warm due to lack of body fat
  • Trouble fighting infections
  • Low oxygen levels at birth
  • Infant respiratory distress syndrome because the lungs aren’t fully developed
  • Brain or neurologic problems including bleeding inside the brain
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis occurs when bacteria gets in the intestinal walls causing swelling and destruction of the bowel
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is when an infant less than 1 year of age dies without an explanation

These risks for low birth weight babies is why WIC promotes healthy nutrition and prenatal care.

  1. Why Does WIC Promote Breastfeeding?

WIC supports and promotes breastfeeding. They provide moms with information, resources, and support for breastfeeding.

Benefits of breastfeeding for your baby include decreased:

  • Allergies and eczema
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood, respiratory, ear, and urinary tract infections
  • Risk of SIDS
  • Necrotizing enterocolitis
  • Incidence of Type 1 and 2 Diabetes
  • Incidence of lymphoma, leukemia, and Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Childhood overweight and obesity

These reasons describe why WIC actively promotes and supports breastfeeding. This is a learned skill. WIC staff stand ready to support you during this process.

  1. Does WIC Provide Infant Formula?

Yes. If you are unable to breastfeed, WIC provides formula for infants. You often do not have a choice about the brand of formula you receive.

Each state WIC program works with formula companies in their area. Arrangements with these companies often change from one year to the next.

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