STATE — August is National Breastfeeding Month and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) is reminding residents of the positive health outcomes to both mother and baby when a child is breastfed.
“I encourage women to breastfeed their babies because of the many health benefits for both baby and mom. Breastfeeding also provides a great way to bond with your newborn,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Mary O’Dowd. “Breast milk provides superior nutrition for infants, helps boost their immune systems and reduces the incidence of illness and childhood obesity. Moms that breastfeed have lower rates of breast and ovarian cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.”
Recognizing that hospitals play a crucial role in increasing the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding, the DHSS awarded 10 maternity hospitals with $10,000 grants in January 2011 to support their implementation of the Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative.
The Baby Friendly Hospitals Initiative is a World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) program that encourages and recognizes hospitals that promote and support for breastfeeding, which include hospital policies and practices and staff education.
Hospitals that received funding to implement the initiative include
- AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center
- Capital Health
- CentraState Medical Center
- Cooper University Hospital
- Hunterdon Healthcare System
- Jersey Shore University Medical Center
- Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center
- Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
- Saint Barnabas Medical Center
- South Jersey Regional Medical Center – Vineland
These hospitals have worked together and formed an informal collaborative called the New Jersey Baby-Friendly Hospital Coalition to share best practices.
Funding for this initiative was provided by US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to DHSS as part of their efforts to ensure hospitals are promoting breastfeeding. The goal of this 18 month quality improvement initiative is to increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the state, thereby preventing obesity and improving health outcomes.
Research shows that hospital policies specifically designed to support breastfeeding can dramatically increase exclusive breastfeeding rates resulting in reduced risk of pediatric overweight, decreased incidence of infectious diseases and protection against obesity and other chronic diseases. Hospitals have opportunities to implement practices in labor, delivery, postpartum care and discharge planning that can protect, promote and support breastfeeding and improve the success rate among women who want to breastfeed.
As part of National Breastfeeding Month, the Department’s WIC staff will attend the Monmouth-Ocean Breastfeeding Consortium annual breastfeeding seminar on August 3 at Jersey Shore Medical Center, which is focusing on “Family Centered Maternity Care and Baby-Friendly™ Hospital Initiative: Perfect Together.” WIC Services will have a display of breastfeeding statistics and projects and provide handouts.
The New Jersey WIC office is providing T-shirts to the local agencies to give away to clients to promote breastfeeding infants.
WIC local agencies around the state are also recognizing Breastfeeding Awareness Month with various activities and events around the state. The Passaic WIC Program will hold a party for exclusively breastfeeding mothers on August 8. Throughout the month, St. Joseph’s WIC Program will have a photo shoot of mothers and their breastfed children to fill bulletin boards with pictures of their “stars.”
Throughout August, WIC staff are conducting “Using Loving Support to GROW and GLOW in WIC: Breastfeeding Training for Local WIC Staff.” This USDA sponsored training has been tailored to the needs of local WIC staff to help them provide consistent messages about breastfeeding to clients.
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