The York County WIC program believes that every interaction between our staff and our participants is an opportunity to make a positive lifelong difference in the health of that individual and his or her family.
At your first WIC appointment, whether you’re prenatal or a parent (mom or dad) with young children, you’ll meet the staff and learn about the various services available to you—from breastfeeding support (free use of an electric pump for your baby’s first year, after which a manual pump will be provided) and free children’s books at each WIC visit, to food vouchers that can be redeemed at your local grocery store for milk, juice, eggs, cheese, fruits and vegetables, and other nutritious foods. Pregnant moms will have their weight taken and their iron checked (to make sure they are not experiencing anemia). We’ll talk with you about healthy eating, and, if you’re pregnant, about what things to avoid to protect your baby.
We are here for you. The WIC team looks forward to seeing you soon. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, or stop in at one of our six clinic sites in York County.
Happy all the Time
But it wasn’t always that way.
When her second daughter, Maxine, was born, on September 23, 2009, weighing 6 pounds 7 ounces, Leslie Hylton felt confident that she could breastfeed the infant until she was old enough to begin taking solid food. She had breastfed her older daughter, two years earlier, for a short while, switching to formula only when it was clear that the child was not comfortable nursing. Maxine showed no such resistance; she nursed easily and without complaint. She was, her mother would say, “always hungry.”
Leslie brought Maxine to the WIC office in Sanford for her first appointment in late October, when the baby was just over a month old. Maxine weighed 7 pounds 4 ounces and measured 20 inches in length. During the session, which lasted about 30 minutes, WIC counselor Brenda Feenstra talked with Leslie about breastfeeding. She asked if there were any problems with feeding Maxine, or if there were questions about nursing that Brenda might be able to answer. Leslie said everything was fine. The next WIC appointment was scheduled for January 27th, when Maxine would be four months old.
Jessica Michaud met with Leslie and Maxine for the child’s second WIC appointment. A nutrition counselor and certified lactation counselor, Jessica noticed that Maxine was thin and frail. The infant’s legs were, she said, “like sticks.” When she placed Maxine on a scale to weigh her, she found that the baby had gained only 4 ounces in 3 months—she now weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces. Maxine should have gained at least four pounds in that time.
Jessica was worried. She feared the child’s health might be in danger. She consulted with Jamie Huddleston, another WIC staff member who is also a nutrition counselor and an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant. Jamie examined the baby and conducted a thorough breastfeeding assessment on Leslie and Maxine. She then asked Leslie’s permission to contact the baby’s medical practitioner.
Leslie would say later that she had thought her daughter had colic. “She cried a lot and was always hungry. I couldn’t put her down for a second without her crying.”
Jamie spoke by phone with Maxine’s nurse practitioner. She described the minimal weight gain and the infant’s physical appearance—tiny, fragile, with limbs so delicate they seemed like those of a newborn.
The nurse practitioner had already scheduled to see Maxine in two days’ time—on Friday. She said to keep that appointment. She advised that Maxine continue breastfeeding, but with a formula supplement. She wanted to see if the infant gained weight over the next 48 hours.
Jamie and Jessica asked if they could give a high-calorie formula—27 calories per ounce rather than the standard 20. They both believed that Maxine needed this additional boost to help with her weight gain. The nurse practitioner agreed, and gave her authorization.
While most mothers are able to successfully breastfeed, some mothers may have difficulty. They may produce too little milk to meet their infant’s needs. This seemed to be the case with Leslie Hylton. She nursed her baby constantly, but Maxine was not getting a sufficient quantity of her mother’s milk. The result was a brief period of delayed growth.
Jamie and Jessica provided Leslie with the high-calorie baby formula and told her to begin feeding it to Maxine immediately, as a supplement to breastfeeding.
“Our first priority is always to see that the baby is fed,” Jamie said. “We encourage mothers to breastfeed, but sometimes that’s not enough. Formula can certainly be used to supplement breast-milk when the baby is not gaining weight as he or she should.”
Jamie phoned Leslie at home that night to find out how Maxine was doing. She phoned again the next day, Thursday, and again on Friday. She asked Leslie to call her at if she had any questions or if she needed any more information about feeding Maxine.
On Friday, 48 hours after the WIC appointment, when Leslie brought Maxine back to the WIC office for a follow-up, the infant’s weight was up 12 ounces. Two days later, she had gained another 8 ounces. Over the next four to five weeks, while taking the high-calorie formula and breastfeeding, Maxine put on nearly 4 pounds. And in early March, for the first time in over five months, Maxine was within her weight percentile, tipping the scale at a healthy 12 pounds 4 ounces.
During the period when Maxine was on the high-calorie formula, through most of February, the WIC staff monitored her weight and growth closely, checking her twice each week. In March, her appointments were changed to bi-weekly. She was no longer so thin, and she had exchanged her early tears for giggles and smiles. She was, or seemed to be, happy all the time.
“I didn’t really know what the matter was,” Leslie said, thinking back to that frightening period early in her daughter’s life. “I knew she was crying a lot, and I worried that something was wrong, but I didn’t know that she hadn’t gained weight until I brought her in for her WIC appointment.”
Leslie lifted Maxine high into the air, above her head, and held her there for a few moments. She lowered her slowly, kissing her daughter’s cheek. Then she cradled her in her arms and said, “There’s not a thing in the world bothering her now.”