It’s been a rollercoaster year for Avra Anagnostis. On January 1, Avra welcomed her daughter Ilani into the world. A few days later, Avra heard about COVID-19 for the first time, then watched it spread across the globe.
Ilani was only nine weeks old when Minnesota had its first confirmed case of the virus.
The subsequent shutdowns, social distancing, and phased re-openings have brought a lot of uncertainty. But Avra says one thing’s been constant: the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.
Hennepin County WIC and other Minnesota WIC programs continue to operate during COVID-19.
family could save
while on WIC
Avra enrolled in WIC on December, 31, 2019, a day before Ilani was born.
Through WIC, she was connected to a breastfeeding peer counselor named Stacey Welman. Although many people know WIC as a nutritional support program, WIC also helps moms breastfeed successfully, even pairing them with peer counselors like Stacey who have experience breastfeeding their own children and can help troubleshoot breastfeeding challenges.
Right after giving birth, Avra encountered her first breastfeeding challenge: she worried that she wasn’t producing enough breastmilk and that Ilani was going to starve.
With the help of a hospital lactation specialist, Avra learned that it’s normal for moms to produce minimal breastmilk right after delivery. However, this amount is usually sufficient for a newborn and typically ramps up after a few days.
Once at home, Avra began texting Stacey and they worked through more challenges. For instance, Avra noted that Ilani’s lips were calloused from sucking so much. She worried that they would bleed and hurt her, but Stacey reassured Avra that it was normal. Another issue they’ve worked through together? Breastfeeding can hurt!
Since January, Stacey and Avra have continued to connect through text and phone calls – and have overcome more challenges together.
For instance, in June, when the killing of George Floyd brought pain and grief to the Minneapolis community, Avra’s milk supply dropped due to stress. “Stacey talked me through everything and gave me a lot of reassurance,” Avra says. A few days later, her milk supply returned to normal.
“Stacey’s been the best part of the WIC program for me,” Avra says. “It’s one thing to talk about breastfeeding and another thing to have done it. This woman knows.”
In addition to breastfeeding support, Avra has used WIC for nutritional support. She doesn’t consume dairy or juice but was able to work with a WIC nutritionist to create a personalized food plan. She can use her electronic WIC card at a co-op near her home.
“I’m just happy that this valuable resource is available to families always, but especially now during COVID-19,” says Avra. “With so many things being uncertain, it’s nice to know that something is certain when it comes to food and breastfeeding support.”
For more information about Hennepin County WIC visit hennepin.us/wic or call 612-348-6100.
Visit the Minnesota WIC website for a directory of WIC programs in Minnesota.
Written by: Lori Imsdahl
“It baffles me that what I love doing every day can make such a significant impact on a mom and baby’s life! – Stacey Welman, WIC breastfeeding peer counselor