August is National Breastfeeding Month and Burlington County is hosting its first Breastfeeding Summit to provide new and expecting parents with information about breastfeeding benefits and supports.
The Burlington County Breastfeeding Summit will be held Thursday, Aug. 18, from 10 AM to 1 PM at the Burlington County Amphitheater, 5 Pioneer Boulevard, Westampton. The free event will feature presentations and discussions from lactation experts, counselors and health care advocates, as well as several local mothers with their own tips and personal stories about overcoming breastfeeding challenges.
Attendees will receive free baby items and there will also be raffle prizes, bagged lunches and other handouts from various agencies and nonprofit groups. To register, click here.
The event is being organized by the Burlington County Health Department and its Women, Infants and Children program, also known as WIC, along with the Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition and the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative.
“Burlington County is one of the healthiest places to live in America for a lot of reasons and one of them is because our Health Department does a great job educating and promoting healthy choices, resources and services for all our residents,” said Burlington County Commissioner Felicia Hopson, the Board’s liaison to the Health Department and WIC. “The upcoming Breastfeeding Summit is a great place for new and expecting parents to come for information, support and resources that may be beneficial for them and their babies. It’s a great new initiative by our WIC program and we’re incredibly proud of its outstanding work and the work of our entire Health Department staff.”
Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for the first six months of a baby’s life by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization, and research has found that breastfeeding provides infants with nutrition and supports healthy brain and immune system development. Research has also determined that breastfed babies have decreased risk of infant mortality and decreased risk of many chronic diseases, including childhood asthma, gastroenteritis, diabetes and childhood leukemia.
About 89% of all infants born in New Jersey were initially breastfed, however, that percentage dropped to 63% after six months and less than 38% after one year, according to 2017 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Burlington County Health Department Director Dr. Herb Conaway said the upcoming summit could help address the falloff and other breastfeeding disparities, including dramatically lower breastfeeding rates among Black mothers.
“Research has demonstrated that breastfeeding is beneficial for both mothers and babies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that they continue to breastfeed for at least a year while other foods are introduced,” said Burlington County Health Department Director Dr. Herb Conaway. “Despite the health benefits, we know breastfeeding is not always easy decision and that disparities exist. This summit is a way to try to address some of those gaps by letting new and expecting parents know about the many supports available to them.”
The summit will also feature discussion of the civil protections and rights of nursing mothers. Under New Jersey, employers are required to provide reasonable break times for mothers to express milk, as well as a suitable location other than a toilet stall for an employee to breastfeed or pump in private.
New Jersey law also forbids an employer to fire or discriminate against a women who chooses to breastfeed or express milk during breaks.