Breastfeeding Peer Update

Statewide Peer Update is an opportunity for peer counselors from across the state to come together and learn new information from a national recognized speaker, share best practices and network with other peers. This year’s speakers focus on Supporting Breastfeeding while being socially distanced and How to Virtually Pivot Your Practice.

2021 Upcoming Dates & Locations

September 2021
Venue TBD
Registration coming soon

Celebrating 10 Years of Service

Edye has enjoyed working for the InterCare WIC Program since 1991. She was originally hired as a WIC Technician until 1999 when her supervisor approached her about a great opportunity to attend the Certified Lactation Educator Training program through a UCLA Extension Program. She breastfed her two daughters and has always felt that breastfeeding is a beautiful way for Mom and baby to bond and the best way to give her baby a healthier start in life, not just physically but emotionally as well! “After completing this certification, I started doing breastfeeding education classes in my Holland WIC clinic. When the Peer Counselor program was started, I just transitioned into that position. I have continued working as both a breastfeeding peer counselor and WIC Tech and I love the balance that both of these job positions offer me each week!”

Edye has helped clients that are both English and Spanish speaking and this is something that makes her feel happy! Her Spanish speaking clients always seem to appreciate that they can speak to someone directly about their breastfeeding questions or concerns. Texting has more recently been a great way to have contact with her clients in both languages to provide support​.

Eliamar Reyna (Ellie) is married and the mother of three beautiful children which were breastfed. She explains that she has been truly blessed to be part of the WIC Breastfeeding Peer Counselor program since it was introduced to Intercare Community Health Network ten years ago. She has worked as a breastfeeding peer at the Bangor clinic in Bangor Michigan. Eliamar is very happy with what she does every day. Being part of a mom to mom breastfeeding peer program has helped create memories and brings her job satisfaction. Offering the extra day to day support and breastfeeding education, has helped many to achieve their personal breastfeeding goals. She tries to bring different cultural values and diversity awareness to her job. Working in a migrant health center, they serve many clients who are breastfeeding moms who work in the fields. She reports that the clients are happy they can count on the WIC staff being there to provide essential information to be successful at breastfeeding.

“I remember when I was having some breastfeeding issues with my youngest child. Years before I was hired as a tech/bf peer I called the WIC office and I spoke to an employee that was very pro breastfeeding. She gave me the best guidance and the support I needed. I breastfed the longest with this child. Yes, breastfeeding peer counselors make a difference! I am very happy to be part of this wonderful program and hope the breastfeeding peer counselor program continues for many more years. I love what I do, every little bit of education and support matters!”

My name is Irasema Martinez and I have been a WIC breastfeeding peer counselor for 10 years.​

I had my oldest son at a very young age, I wanted to nurse, but I was uncomfortable nursing in public or when we had visitors. So, I would pump, but I would only pump when he was ready to eat and starving. He would cry and I would cry because he was crying, and my milk wasn’t coming out fast enough. After a couple months of struggling, we gave up and formula fed. ​

Six years later I had my daughter, nursing started off great. Then I needed surgery, gallbladder removal. Again, I did not have the support or the information that I needed in order to have surgery and still be able to keep my milk supply. Feeling like a failure, we started to formula feed. ​

Six years after that I had my youngest son, I worked at WIC by this time and had received lots of breastfeeding education. Even though I worked at WIC and had the information I needed, I still needed support. I would call my coworkers because it hurt too much, all he did was cry, he wanted to nurse every 15 minutes, and the list grew bigger of why I wanted to stop. But I did not, in fact I nursed him until he was three years old, even with the remarks I would get from friends and family like he was “too old” to nurse. Why did I not stop? Because I had the support and encouragement that I needed.​

Now it is my turn to give that encouragement and support. I want our clients to understand that I am here to help, that it is ok to have issues and there is nothing wrong with her if she asks for help. I will support them in any way that I can, even if they call me every day; that I will give them all the information that they need so they can make the correct decision for their family.​

I am a first generation breastfeeder. I have breastfed my six biological children and have raised seven others.

I have had a variety of experiences through my personal breastfeeding journey including not receiving support with my first child causing me to quit after three weeks. It was due to having mastitis and feeling like I was starving my child.

With my second child, I received support and encouragement and she was breastfed for 15 months. I went on to breastfeed four more children. In total, I breastfed 6 children. Even though my confidence grew throughout my journey, I still felt like an amateur.

When a breastfeeding peer counselor position became available, I applied and became employed with my current employer. Through the support of the WIC program, I am far more confident in myself and my abilities now more than ever before.

This position has blessed me by giving me the opportunity to bless others with the support and knowledge that I did not have.

I am eternally grateful for everything this job has been for me and my family, and for being placed where so many in my community could benefit.

Linda Marshall and Vicki Wood started as WIC Peer Counselors at the Marquette County Health Department in November 2010.

They have continued to offer virtual breastfeeding classes, breastfeeding support groups, and consultations this year during the pandemic.

Linda and Vicki believe in the power of breastfeeding education and support for all families and hope to continue their partnership serving families in the Upper Peninsula for many more years to come.

  • Describe two ways to engage clients while maintaining social distancing.
  • Identify counseling techniques which will build the client/breastfeeding peer counselor relationship.
  • Identify ways an emergency, including a pandemic crisis, can affect vulnerable outcomes and breastfeeding practices that can help mitigate the impact.
  • Describe current recommendations for breastfeeding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This training provides continuing education hours for Nurses and Certified Lactation Consultants. A Certificate of Attendance with educational hours will be provided for healthcare professionals who can self-report. If you have questions, please contact CEInfo@mphi.org.

  • Cathy Carothers
  • Heather Shalayko
  • Linda Marshall
  • Denisha Lundy
All participants registering in advance will receive a Participant Reminder with the training details. If you do not receive a confirmation email prior to the event, or if you have any questions regarding registration, please contact MPHI at (517) 324-8330.
This policy is available for you to read during the registration process under “Terms and Conditions” prior to submitting your registration.