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Department of Health Celebrates August as National Breastfeeding Month

Department of Health Celebrates August as National Breastfeeding Month

During National Breastfeeding Month, the New Jersey Department of Health is highlighting New Jersey’s continued improvement in breastfeeding rates and recognizing outstanding breastfeeding programs and the dedicated professionals, volunteers, counselors, and organizations that encourage, support and empower mothers to breastfeed.

“Breastfeeding provides a healthy, sustainable source of nutrition and immunization for infants,” said Health Commissioner Cathleen D. Bennett.  “The best food for a baby’s first year of life is breast milk.” 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 

 The 2017 CDC Breastfeeding Report Card indicates that New Jersey rates continue to increase in all categories.  The most significant increases over the previous year occurred in the percentage of mothers exclusively breastfeeding at 3 months – up 13.8% (41.4% to 47.1%); breastfeeding at 6 months – up 12.4% (52.6% to 59.1%); and breastfeeding at 12 months – up 15.6% (30.2% to 34.9%).

 

“For infants, breastfeeding helps prevent hunger, increases nourishment and protects against obesity.  For mothers, breastfeeding can be a satisfying and empowering experience, which should be supported by employers, the healthcare system, and the community,” the Commissioner said.  

 

Breastfeeding also benefits a mother’s health, it leads to lower risk of Type 2 Diabetes, certain types of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.  Additionally, breastfeeding is a low-cost way of feeding infants and children that does not burden household budgets.

 

Hospitals play a critical role in increasing the initiation and duration of breastfeeding.  In 2011, the Department launched the New Jersey Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative to encourage and recognize hospitals that promote and support exclusive breastfeeding.  The initiative is based on a program of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which established the guidelines – “Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” – that hospitals must follow to earn the Baby-Friendly designation.

 

Ten New Jersey hospitals have achieved Baby-Friendly status by meeting the criteria that require a hospital to identify, assess, plan for and accommodate the breastfeeding needs of nursing mothers: 

 

  • AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center, Pomona
  • Capital Health Medical Center – Hopewell
  • Inspira Medical Center Elmer, Elmer
  • Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Neptune
  • Morristown Medical Center, Morristown
  • Newton Medical Center, Newton
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center, Camden
  • Overlook Medical Center, Summit
  • Southern Ocean Medical Center, Manahawkin
  • University Hospital, Newark

 

The New Jersey WIC (Women, Infants and Children) program provides breastfeeding promotion and support to low-income women across the state that encourages and empowers them to breastfeed their infants.  Women who exclusively breastfeed receive the largest WIC food package to support their own nutritional needs while nursing.

 

This year, three New Jersey WIC agencies will receive the highest level – the Gold Award – of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) WIC Loving Support Award of Excellence for Exemplary Breastfeeding Support and Practices.  Selection is based on performance measures, effective peer counseling and community partnerships. The award’s intent is to provide models that will motivate other local agencies to strengthen their breastfeeding programs and ultimately increase breastfeeding rates among WIC participants.  The recipients are:

 

  • NORWESCAP WIC Program
  • North Hudson Community Action WIC Program
  • Gloucester WIC Program

 

Another WIC initiative was the first annual statewide Breastfeeding Peer Counselor Meeting held in May to provide skills training for peer counselors and International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants, who work at local WIC agencies.

 

Work environments that accommodate breastfeeding mothers help contribute to high breastfeeding rates. The New Jersey Breastfeeding Coalition selected Jersey Shore University Medical Center and Hackensack University Medical Center as “NJ Breastfeeding Friendly Worksites,” for their supportive practices for working mothers, including breaks and private spaces for women to express milk or nurse their child.

 

This year’s National Breastfeeding Month theme is “Charting the Course Together” focusing on how we can use data and measurements to ensure breastfeeding is incorporated into all relevant areas of the public health agenda.  For more information and resources for breastfeeding families, visit http://nj.gov/health/fhs/wic/nutrition-breastfeeding/.

 

Follow the New Jersey Department of Health on Twitter @njdeptofhealth, Facebook /njdeptofhealth, Instagram@njdeptofhealth and Snapchat @njdoh.

For more information, visit our homepage at nj.gov/health.

Last Reviewed: 8/15/2017